25 Famous Indian Americans Who Achieved the American Dream!

For hundreds of thousands of Indians, moving abroad is the ultimate ticket to upward mobility. Not only does it secure the future of their children, but also provides families with financial security. Of course, some of us are happy living in India, but it does make one especially proud to see our people doing well abroad too. Here are 25 famous Indian Americans who seemed to have achieved the great American dream!

Also read: 9 Major Tech CEOs Of Indian Origin You Should Know About!

1. Kamala Harris

Born in Oakland, California to a Tamil Indian biologist mother and a Jamaican professor father, Kamala Harris is an American politician who is the current vice president of the United States. She is the first female vice president of the US, and is also the first Asian American and African American to hold the office. Harris graduated from Howard University and the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

2. Sunita Williams

Born in Ohio to Indian American neuroanatomist Deepak Pandya and Slovene American Ursuline Bonnie Pandya, Sunita Williams is an astronaut who is the second woman of Indian origin to fly to space. She formerly held the record for the most number of spacewalks by a woman. 

Source: Flickr

3. Kalpana Chawla

Born in Karnal in Punjab, Kalpana Chawla was an astronaut and engineer. She was the first woman of Indian origin to fly to space. She made her first space flight on Space Shuttle Columbia in 1997. On her second flight on STS-107 in the Space Shuttle Columbia, Chawla lost her life after Columbia disintegrated upon re-entering earth’s atmosphere.

Source: Flickr

4. Salman Rushdie

Born in Bombay, Salman Rushdie is a British American writer who won the Booker Prize in 1981 for his Midnight’s Children. Rushdie is a critically acclaimed writer whose writings often merge historical fiction and magical realism. His most famous work, Midnight’s Children, follows the story of Saleem Sinai, born with supernatural powers at the exact moment India became an independent country. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

5. Kiran Desai

Kiran Desai is an Indian author and the daughter of another famous novelist, Anita Desai. Kiran won the 2006 Man Booker Prize for her novel, The Inheritance of Loss. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons

6. Jhumpa Lahiri

Born in London, England, to Indian immigrants, Jhumpa Lahiri is a short story writer, novelist, and essayist. Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies (1999), a collection of short stories, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. She also published her first novel in Italian, Dove mi Trovo in 2018, and received the National Humanities Medal from the United States in 2014.

Source: Flickr

7. Amitav Ghosh

Born in Calcutta and brought up in Dehradun, Amitav Ghosh is a critically acclaimed novelist who’s the winner of the 54th Jnanpith Award, India’s highest literary honor and was also awarded the Padma Shri in 2007. Ghosh’s novels usually explore individual and national identities, especially that of the Indian diaspora. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons

8. Vidya Vox

Born in Chennai and raised in Virginia, Vidya Iyer is a YouTuber and singer. Born to Tamilian parents, Vidya learnt Carnatic music from the age of 5. She employs a mix of classical rap, Indian classical music, and EDM in her music. She currently has over 7 million subscribers on YouTube.

9. Satya Nadella

Born in Hyderabad to a Sanskrit lecturer mother and an IAS officer father, Satya Nadella is the executive chairman and CEO of Microsoft. Nadella got his BTech from Manipal Institute of Technology in Karnataka and then an M.S. in computer science at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. He received an MBA from University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and worked at Sun Microsystems as a member of its technology staff before joining Microsoft in 1992. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons

10. Sundar Pichai

Born in Madras, Sundar Pichai is the chief executive officer of Alphabet Inc. and its subsidiary, Google. Pichai earned his BTech in metallurgical engineering from IIT Kharagpur. He then got an M.S. from Stanford University, and an MBA from Wharton Business School.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

11. Bibhu Mohapatra

Born in Rourkela in Odisha, Bibhu Mohapatra is a fashion and costume designer based in New York. His work has been featured in a number of magazines including Time, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and Vogue. His clients include former first lady Michelle Obama. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

12. Vikas Khanna

Born in Amritsar, Vikas Khanna is an Indian chef based in New York City. Khanna worked at a number of famous Indian hotels including Taj Hotels, Oberoi Group and Leela Group of Hotels before moving to New York. He has worked with top chefs including Gordon Ramsay, Bobby Flay and Eric Ripert.  He rose to fame in India after appearing in MasterChef India as a judge. 

Source: Flickr

13. Mindy Kalling 

Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to South Indian parents, Mindy Kaling is an American actress, comedian, director, producer and screenwriter who’s known for her role as Kelly Kapoor on popular sitcom The Office. Kaling also produced and starred in The Mindy Project, and has also created several popular shows, including Never Have I Ever, Four Weddings and a Funeral and The Sex Lives of College Girls. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons

14. Poorna Jagannathan 

Born in Tunisia to an Indian diplomat, Poorna Jagganathan is an American actress who moved from country to country growing up, including Ireland, India, Pakistan, Brazil, and Argentina. She’s appeared in a number of movies, including Bollywood movies Delhi Belly and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. But Jagganathan shot to fame with her role in the hit Netflix Original show, Never Have I Ever, where she plays the role of the protagonist’s mother, Nalini. 

Source: Instagram

15. Mira Nair 

Born in Rourkela, Mira Nair is a filmmaker based in New York City. She is best known for Salaam Bombay! (1988) which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. She’s also directed other critically acclaimed movies, such as Monsoon Wedding, Mississippi Masala, and Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons

16. Kal Penn

Born as Kalpen Suresh Modi in New Jersey to Gujarati immigrants, Kal Penn is an American actor and former member of the White House staff who’s best known for playing Kumar Patel in Harold & Kumar film series. Penn has also appeared in sitcom How I Met Your Mother, and has starred in and created Sunnyside, an NBC sitcom. 

Source: Flickr

17. Venki Ramakrishnan 

Born in Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu, Venki Ramakrishnan is a structural biologist. He won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, alongside Thomas A Steitz and Ada Yonath. Ramakrishnan also served as the President  of the Royal Society from 2015-2020. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

18. Abhijit Banerjee

Born in Mumbai to a Bengali father and Marathi mother, Abhijit Banerjee is an economist who received worldwide recognition after winning the 2019 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences alongside his wife Esther Duflo, and Michael Kremer. Banerjee received his master’s from JNU and his PhD from Harvard University. During his time at JNU, Banerjee was arrested and imprisoned in Tihar Jail for participating in student protests, but charges against him were later dropped. 

Source: Flickr

19. Amartya Sen

Born in Shantiniketan in West Bengal, Amartya Sen is an economist who won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1998. Sen was also awarded Bharat Ratna in 1999 for his work in welfare economics. Sen is the youngest person to ever head the department of economics in Jadavpur University, where he worked from 1956 to 1958 between ages of 23-25. He received his education from University of Calcutta and Trinity College, Cambridge.

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

20. Har Gobind Khorana

Born in British India in Multan, Punjab (Present day Pakistan), Har Gobind Khorana was a biochemist who received worldwide recognition after winning the 1968 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine alongside Marshall W. Nirenberg and Robert W. Holley. Khorana, alongside Nirenberg, also received the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize from Columbia University in the same year.

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

21. Hasan Minhaj

Born in Davis, California, to Indian parents from Uttar Pradesh, Hasan Minhaj is a comedian, satirist, television host, producer and writer. He’s best known for Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj and the Daily Show. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

22. Paramahansa Yogananda

Paramaahansa Yogananda was an Indian monk and Yogi who introduced the ancient Indian practice of Yoga through his organizations Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) and Yogoda Satsanga Society (YSS) of India. He was a leading figure for the Yoga movement in America and especially in Los Angeles, where he was known as the “Father of Yoga in the West.”

Source: Wikimedia Commons

23. Aziz Ansari

Born in South Carolina to immigrant Indian Muslim parents, Aziz Ansari is an actor, comedian, writer, director and producer. Ansari is known for his role as Tom Haverford in popular sitcom, Parks and Recreation, and the Netflix series, Master of None. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons

24. M Night Shyamalan

Born in Mahe in Pondicherry, Shyamalan’s parents moved to the US when he was a little over a month old. He is known for making movies with supernatural plots and twists, making his movies almost a subgenre by themselves. He’s directed popular movies like The Sixth Sense (1999) and The Village (2004). 

Source: Wikimedia Commons

25. Lilly Singh 

Born in Ontario, Canada, to Indian Punjabi parents, Lilly Singh is a YouTuber and comedian. Lilly earlier went by her internet pseudonym, IISuperwomanII. Singh is one of the most popular female YouTubers, and has also one of the highest earnings. She also hosted a late-night talk show, A Little Late With Lilly Singh. 

Source: Flickr

Which of these famous Indian Americans do you like the most? Comment below to tell us your pick!