“The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of us but those who win battles we know nothing about.”
Amidst the daily grind in today’s world, we fail to recognise the astounding efforts made by these ‘camouflaged people’ impacting mankind in innumerable ways. Unfortunately, these names fail to break through ‘the lead story’ since they are subaltern and marginalized. These people have surely achieved phenomenal feats, helping India to emerge as a superpower.
Father of the Indian Space Programme, Vikram Ambala Sarabhai was an extraordinary combination of a scientist, an innovator, industrialist and a visionary. He founded the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) which eventually became the largest government space agency in the world. He convinced the government of the importance of a space programme after the Russian Sputnik launch. “He who can listen to the music in the midst of noise can achieve great things.” Indeed, his vision of India achieving new heights in space technology has been accomplished as ISRO has emerged as one of the world’s leading space agencies.
Captain Vikram Batra
The popularity of “How is the josh?” prompted me to pen down the sacrifices made by the valiant soldiers of our country and Captain Vikram Batra. It reminded me of his adage “Yeh Dil Maange More”. It has been more than 19 years now, but the exceptional prowess of Kargil heroes are still engraved in our memories. Amongst these dauntless and gutsy soldiers was a man who would become the face of every young soldier who fought fearlessly and died heroically with his last words being “JAI MATA DI”. Our flag does not fly because the wind moves it, it flies with the last breath of each soldier like Captain Vikram Batra who died protecting it. “Don’t worry. I’ll either come back after raising the Indian flag in victory or return wrapped in it, but I will come for sure,” was Captain Vikram Batra’s reply to his friend’s concerned words.
“The Indian Army conducted surgical strikes on terror launchpads across the Line of control,” read the morning headlines on the 29th of September, 2016. This aggressive approach was the brainchild of none other than National Security Adviser, Ajit Doval. “For one bullet fired by them, you respond with two,” said Doval. This strike was recognised as a substantial shift in India’s policy of restraint with Pakistan. It factually meant that our country could strike back at will to counter cross border terror. The ‘Doval Swag’ has boosted the morale of the security forces while Pakistan has got a straightforward message that ‘it will bleed more’ if it continues its proxy war against India. “India has a mindset that, where it hits, it punches below its weight, we have to increase our weight and punch proportionately,” Doval said at an August 2015 lecture.
The mastermind of the Pokhran test, Rajagopala Chidambaram is an Indian Physicist known for his integral role in India’s nuclear weapons program alongside Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. He was there when India went nuclear in May 1974. He was there when the country went back to Pokhran to test another bomb and declare itself a nuclear state, evading detection by American Intelligence. He has served as a principal scientific adviser to the governments of Prime Minister AB Vajpayee, Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi. Under his 56 years of service to Indian science, ‘Smiling Buddha’ and ‘Operation Shakti’ were his greatest achievements. He claims that “The Power of a country is science and technology.” With this ethos and keen enthusiasm in research, he gave a push to India’s participation in several international projects.
Dr Verghese Kurien
In a country which started taking flight with the predominance of the primary sector and was leaving no stone unturned to become self-sustainable, there stood this one man who revolutionized the dairy sector. Dr Verghese Kurien single-handedly led India from a milk-deficient nation to the world’s largest producer of milk! It was he who organised dairy farmers into cooperatives, removing all middlemen and this very Milk Cooperative Movement is what we see today in the form of AMUL. A Padma Bhushan awardee, he was called on by the then Prime Minister to head the National Dairy Development board to replicate the success story of Amul throughout our country. India’s sustainability in the dairy sector today has been made possible only because of Dr Kurien’s efforts back then. No wonder he is the Father of the White Revolution in India.
All of us Delhites take the metro practically every other day as our primary mode of travel, right? The metro in itself is no less than an infrastructural revolution amidst the proliferating pressure on our roads. This revolution would not have taken place had it not been for the expertise of E Sreedharan. A civil engineer and an IRSE officer, he is credited for changing the face of public transportation in India by heralding the Konkan Railway and the Delhi Metro Project. Keeping away from political pressures, he has been instrumental in implementing all his assignments before anticipated timelines and below estimated costs. The main force behind the Calcutta Metro – the first metro system in India, and the Kochi and Lucknow metros, Mr Sreedharan is rightly recognized as the Metro Man of India.
Chief Justice H.R. Khanna
Chief Justice H.R. Khanna — ‘a man who stood up to the Emergency and the prime minister herself.’ He is said to be one of the bravest judges the Indian Supreme Court has ever seen, and rightly so. CJI Khanna, on account of his judgements in two landmark cases, has been credited for upholding some of the most basic fundamental rights on our behalf. Famous for dissenting in the Habeas Corpus case during the darkest hours of Indian Emergency, he solely claimed that the fundamental rights to life and liberty could not be subdued even in the period of national emergency. On account of this very dissent, he was succeeded by Justice M.H. Beg irrespective of the fact that he was the senior-most judge, leading to his immediate resignation from the court.
Equally celebrated is his judgement in Keshavananda Bharati vs. State of Kerala wherein a large 13-judge bench deliberated on the Parliament’s right to amend the Constitution. Amidst neck-to-neck opposing opinions, Justice Khanna ruled that the legislature had the right to amend the Constitution provided that it does not fiddle with its “basic structure.” He added – “if no provision were made for the amendment of the Constitution, the people would have recourse to extra-constitutional methods like a revolution.” I doubt whether our country will again witness as courageous an upholder of justice as Justice HR Khanna.
P.V. Narasimha Rao
While India might have become a sovereign independent state in 1947, our country witnessed another round of independence in 1991, wherein our country was pulled out from the abyss of economic depredation by P.V. Narasimha Rao, who fathered the 1991 economic reforms. Serving as our 9th Prime Minister, Rao was the 1st non-Hindi speaking politician to hold office, that too from a South Indian background. While Dr. Manmohan Singh’s role is well celebrated, Rao’s role in the economic reforms often tends to take the backseat. Despite heading a minority government, he was instrumental in pulling us out of bankruptcy at a juncture when his own party was out to tamper his most ambitious undertaking.
To add to this, he pioneered the Look East policy in order to develop deep strategic ties with South-East Asian nations in a bid to counteract the influence of China, initiated inter-state friendships with Iran and Israel and established trilateral relations between India, Japan and USA through Exercise Malabar. Not to forget, it was Rao who facilitated India’s nuclear programme and was influential in ending insurgencies in Punjab. Aptly referred to as ‘Chanakya’ by his peers, Narasimha Rao manoeuvred our nation through political and economic instability, despite the odds that were personally and politically stacked against him.
Hard times don’t create heroes. It is amidst hard times when the ‘hero’ within us is unveiled. Amidst the aura of nationalistic fervour, this was an attempt on our part to remember all those ‘unsung’ heroes from different walks of life who have devoted their lives to something bigger than themselves. All the mini revolutions spearheaded by each of them in the diverse avenues of agriculture, infrastructure, economy, industry, military, astronomy, politics and justice culminated into a mega revolution that our beloved Bharatvarsh beheld post our Independence in the last 7 decades.
By Sailesh Buchasia and Rishav Jalan
2nd year undergraduate students, Shri Ram College of Commerce