20 Famous People from Punjab Who Shaped the India of Today

It is no secret that Punjab has contributed immensely to make India what it is today – starting from the movement of independence, to supplying soldiers to the Indian army in large numbers (second highest among all Indian states), Punjab has always been in the front seat on India’s journey of progress. With that, we bring you 20 famous people from Punjab who shaped India today!

Also read: 13 Interesting Facts About Punjab

1. Brigadier Kuldip Singh Chandpuri

Major in the Indian Army’s 23rd Battalion, Brigadier Kuldip Singh Chandpuri was a decorated army officer who served in the Punjab Regiment during the 1971 war between India and Pakistan. He was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra (MVC) for his heroic leadership in the Battle of Longewala. He retired from the army as a brigadier. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons

2. Kiran Bedi

The first women IPS officer in India, Kiran Bedi is also the first woman to be appointed as the United Nations civilian police adviser. She has won the President’s Police Medal, United Nations Medal & Ramon Magsaysay Award. Bedi contested the 2015 Delhi Assembly Elections as BJP’s CM candidate against Aam Aadmi Party’s Arvind Kejriwal, but was defeated. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

3. Sunil Mittal

Sunil Mittal is an Indian businessman who is the chairman, Founder and Group CEO of Bharti Enterprises. By 2009, Mittal had opened more than 200 schools and was named as one of the greatest philanthropists in the world. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2007. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons

4. Gulshan Kumar

Founder of T-Series music label (Super Cassettes Industries Ltd.) which is now well worth over $500 million, Gulshan Kumar was also a Bollywood movie producer & Singer. He was especially popular among the Indian masses for his devotional songs. He was tragically murdered in 1997, allegedly by D-company, which was a terrorizing force in Bollywood back then. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

5. Har Gobind Khorana

Born in Raipur in Punjab province (now a part of Punjab, Pakistan), Had Gobind Khorana was an Indian-American biochemist noted for his work in Nucleic acid. Khorana won a Nobel Prize for Physiology in 1968. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

6. Rakesh Sharma

Born in Patiala, Rakesh Sharma is a former Indian Air Force test pilot. He is the first and the only Indian citizen to have travelled in space*. When the former Indian prime minister, Indira Gandhi asked Sharma how India looked from space, he famously replied, “Saare jahaan se accha, Hindustan hamara.” 

*Not including people of Indian origin but not Indian citizens 

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

7. Mohammed Rafi

Born in Amritsar, Mohammad Rafi was one of the most popular & sought after singers of Bollywood. His songs ranged from classical numbers to patriotic songs, sad lamentations to highly romantic numbers, qawwalis to ghazals and bhajans. Over the course of his career, he won six Filmfares, one National Award, Best Singer of the Millennium Award & the Padma Shri. Apart from Hindi, he had also recorded songs in Assamese, Konkani, Bhojpuri, Odia, Punjabi, Bengali, Marathi, Sindhi, Kannada, Gujarati, Telugu, Magahi, Maithili, Urdu, English, Persian, Spanish & Dutch. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

8. Yash Chopra

One of the most iconic Hindi film directors of all time, Yash Chopra was also a scriptwriter, and film producer. He was the founder & Chairman of Yash Raj Films & Yash Raj Studios, and is considered one of the leading filmmakers in the history of Hindi cinema. Known as the “King of Romance” of Indian cinema, Chopra won 6 National Film Awards, 11 Filmfare Awards, Dadasaheb Phalke Award & the Padma Bhushan over the course of his celebrated and long career. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

9. Gulzar (Sampooran Singh Kalra)

Born in Dina, Punjab Province (Present day Pakistan) as Sampooran Singh Kalra and better known professionally as Gulzar, he is an Indian poet, lyricist and film director who has also written poetry, dialogues and scripts. He has won various accolades and awards, including an Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire and a Grammy. He has also received the Padma Bhushan, a Sahitya Akademi Award, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, Several Indian National Film Awards and Filmfare Awards. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

10. Manmohan Singh

Prominent economist and the 13th Prime Minister of India from 2004-2014, Manmohan Singh was born in Gah, Punjab Province (present-day Pakistan). He served the United Nations between 1966-1969. Prior to becoming PM, he had served as the Chief Economic Advisor, the Reserve Bank Governor and the Planning Commission Head of India. He holds honorary doctorate degrees from various universities. 

Source: Flickr

11. Milkha Singh

Born in Govindpura, Punjab Province (present-day Pakistan), Milkha Singh was a former Indian track & field sprinter known as The Flying Sikh. Of the 80 races he ran in, he won an astounding 77. He won 4 Golds in Asian Games and 1 in the Commonwealth Games, famously missing the Bronze in the 1960 Rome Olympics by 1/100th of a Second. He was awarded Padma Shri in 1959

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

12. Abhinav Bindra

Born in Zirakpur, Punjab, Abhinav Bindra is an Indian shooter who was the youngest participant in the 1998 Commonwealth Games. He was also the first Indian to win an individual gold medal at the Olympic Games. He was also the first & only Indian to have held both the World and Olympic titles at the same time. He has won six gold medals for India and has received the Arjuna Award, the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna award & the Padma Bhushan. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons

13. Yuvraj Singh

Yuvraj Singh is an Indian Cricketer who was part of the Indian national team that won the 2007 ICC World Twenty20 & 2011 Cricket World Cup. Yuvraj famously hit 6 Sixes in a single over against England at the 2007 World Twenty20, thus scoring the fastest fifty runs in twenty-20 format ever, off of just 12 balls. Singh has been conferred with the Arjuna Award & the Padma Shri. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

14. Navjot Singh Sidhu

Navjot Singh Sidhu is a former Indian Cricketer (cricket career lasted from 1983 until 1999) who came to be known for his television commentary in the 2000s, popular for his one-liners or “Sidhuism”. He was the first Indian batsman to score more than 5 centuries in one day international. He is currently the president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

15. Raj Kapoor

Born in Peshawar, Raj Kapoor was a Bollywood actor, director, and producer, who is considered to be one of the most talented artists of Bollywood of all time. He was the winner of 2 National Film Awards, 9 Filmfare Awards, the Padma Bhushan and a Dadasaheb Phalke Award. He was also nominated twice for the Palme d’Or grand prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1951 & 1954. 

Source: Flickr

16. Kapil Sharma 

Born in Amritsar, Kapil Sharma is an actor, comedian and television personality who rose to fame after winning several seasons of Sony’s Comedy Circus. He eventually landed on his own show, called Comedy Nights with Kapil, which was a huge hit with audiences. He was ranked 11th and 18th in Forbes’s Celebrity 100 list in years 2016 and 2017 respectively. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons

17. Harbhajan Singh 

Born in Jalandhar, Punjab, Harbhajan Singh is an Indian cricketer, commentator and actor. Singh has the second-highest number of test wickets by an off-spinner. Under his captaincy, Mumbai Indians won the 2011 Champions League Twenty20. He was conferred with the Padma Shri in 2009. 

Source: Quote Park  

18. Kuldip Nayar 

Born in Sialkot in Punjab Province (present-day Pakistan), Kuldip Nayar was an Indian journalist, columnist, human rights activist, author, and former High Commissioner of India to the United Kingdom. He was a member of the Rajya Sabha from 1997 to 2003. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

19. Kalpana Chawla 

Born in Karnal in Punjab (present day Haryana), Kalpana Chawla was an American astronaut of Indian origin who flew on the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1997 as a primary robotic arm operator. Her second space flight came in 2003 on the STS-107, the 28th and final flight of Columbia. During this flight, the space shuttle orbited for over 15 days, successfully conducting a number of experiments. Upon its re-entry, however, Columbia disintegrated, killing all seven members on board. 

Source: Flickr

20. Dharmendra 

Born as Dharam Singh Deol but professionally known as Dharmendra, he is an actor, producer and politician who has over 100 successful movies under his belt as the lead actor. He was a member of the Lok Sabha from 2005 to 2009, representing Bikaner. He has won several awards, including the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement award in 1997. He was also awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2012.

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

Did you like our list of famous people from Punjab? If you think we missed someone out, tell us in the comments below!

   
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