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The 20 Most Successful Indians Alive Today

The CEO of Microsoft. Nobel-prize winning scientists. A towering author. The God of Cricket. The governor of Louisiana. Here is the Goa Streets list of the 20 Most Successful Indians Alive Today. Amazing, extraordinary people! You may agree or disagree with our choices. But what’s crystal clear is that the accomplishments of these extraordinary men and women – whether in business, the arts, sports, science, music and other fields – are nothing short of breathtaking. Is someone on the list who shouldn’t be? Who isn’t on it but SHOULD be? Tell us by writing to, or in the “Have Something To Say” section below!



.Satya Nadella

Mr. Nadella is topping our list because last month he was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft, the world’s largest software maker and one of the world’s most valuable companies. Originally from Hyderabad, he’s the son of a former IAS officer. This 46-year-old who “always wanted to build things” has a humble demeanor that has won him a lot of appreciation.


Azim Hashim Premji

Mr. Premji is Number 2 on the list not just because he’s one of the richest men in the world, but also because he’s committed to making that world a better place. The 69-year-old chairman of software company Wipro Limited has already given away 25 percent of his wealth to charity, and the Azim Premji Foundation is working tirelessly to transform primary education in rural India. He is the first Indian and third non-American to sign up for Giving Pledge, an initiative led by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to encourage the world’s richest people to use their wealth for the betterment of humanity.


Amartya Sen

The contribution of this Indian economist to global society was acknowledged when he won the Nobel Prize in 1998. His welfare economics, social choice theory, and indexes measuring well-being of developing countries’ citizens, among other works, have been widely applauded. Few know that this 80-year-old Bengali, who shuttles between India and the United States, is fond of going on bike rides when he’s back in the Motherland.


Lata Mangeshkar

Did you know that India’s Nightingale traces her family roots to Goa? Her father’s family hails from Mangeshi, near Ponda in North Goa. This 84-year-old legend has recorded songs for over 1,000 Hindi films, and she’s been an integral part of India’s musical landscape for nearly seven decades. She was decorated with India’s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna. The Guinness Book of World Records had long listed her as the most recorded artist in history – a designation that has since gone to her younger sister Asha Bhosle.


Salman Rushdie

No list of the most successful Indians could be complete without this 66-year-old prolific novelist and essayist whose works include Midnight’s Children (winner of the 1981 Booker Prize), Joseph Anton: A Memoir and The Satanic Verses. The latter, with its irreverent depictions of Islam (Rushdie himself comes from a liberal Muslim family), earned him death threats and a fatwa issued against him by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, in 1989. Rushdie’s literature combining magical realism with historical fiction is among the most important of our times.


Sachin Tendulkar

This 40-year-old God of Cricket is indisputably the greatest batsman of this generation, and many believe of all time. Illustrating just how much he’s revered in India was the Bharat Ratna, the nation’s highest civilian award, he received last month. He took up cricket at age 11, and there’s been no stopping him since.  In 2012, Tendulkar was nominated to the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of Parliament.


Sonia Gandhi

Her party may be suffering badly in the polls, and she may not be Indian by birth, but there’s no denying that 67-year-old Italian-born Sonia Gandhi, as president of the Indian National Congress party, remains one of the most influential people in the world today. Her ability to remain at the forefront of politics in the world’s second most populous nation for decades is undoubtedly a sign of stunning success.


A R Rahman

Allah-Rakha Rahman, hailing from Tamil Nadu, is an incredibly successful Indian composer known for a mix of Eastern classical music with electronic sounds. His achievements have included two Academy Awards and a number of Grammys. Known as the Mozart of Madras, this 47-year-old singer-songwriter won an Oscar for original score and original song in the film Slumdog Millionaire. He’s also a serious philanthropist devoted to charitable causes – a facet of his success as important as any other.

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Amitabh Bachchan

You know it and we know it. You can’t put together a list of the most successful Indians alive today without including Amitabh Bachchan, who shot to prominence back in the 1970s and is widely regarded as one of the greatest figures in the history of Indian cinema. The 71-year-old actor made his Hollywood debut just last year, by playing the non-Indian Jewish character Meyer Wolfsheim in The Great Gatsby.


Saina Nehwal

This 24-year-old Indian from Uttar Pradesh did her nation proud when she became the first Indian to win a medal in Badminton at the London Olympics in 2012 and a medal in the women’s singles badminton in Commonwealth Games in 2010. Her stunning performance saw her rising to a career best ranking of 2 in 2010.   She’s also become a leading voice urging corporate houses to support young athletes. All power to her!


Bobby Jindal

Piyush “Bobby” Jindal, 42, is an American politician who is the current Governor of the state Louisiana. He was born in America, to immigrants from India (he has said his mother was four months pregnant with him when they arrived in the U.S.). As governor, he must be doing something right, as he keeps getting re-elected. Raised in a Hindu household, he subsequently converted to Catholicism. If the United States ever gets an Indian-origin president, there’s a good chance it will be him.


Kiran Bedi

Kiran Bedi, 64, has stayed in the limelight long after retiring from the Indian Police Service. The first woman officer in the IPS, an apologetically male bastion, she held several challenging postings such as Director General of Narcotics Control Bureau, Civilian Police Advisor in UN peacekeeping operations, and Inspector General of Prisons, in the Tihar Jail, where she pushed through a number of important reforms.  She founded several NGOs and currently plays an active role in the India Against Corruption Movement.


Lakshmi Mittal

It’s hard to avoid including steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal on a list of the world’s most successful Indians. He is, after all, one of the world’s richest men, and he does, after all, run the world’s largest steel company, ArcelorMittal. He’s also a big supporter of up-and-coming athletes and has done a lot to improve education and health care in India.


Vinita Bali 

She is one of the most prominent businesswoman in the world and currently Managing Director of the Indian food company Britannia Industries Limited. In addition to tripling her company’s revenue, she also established the Britannia Nutrition Foundation to fight malnutrition by distributing fortified biscuits to Indian schoolchildren. Hers is the face of success.


Perumalsamy Namperumalsamy 

The Indian ophthalmologist might not exactly be a household name, but there’s no denying his success in the field of eye surgery. Chairman of Aravind Eye HospitalMadurai, he is credited with bringing assembly-line efficiency to eye surgery. His work in the field of cataract surgery has won him worldwide recognition, and Time magazine listed him as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2010.


Venkatraman “Venki” Ramakrishnan 

If the Nobel committee thinks he’s one of the finest scientists of this generation, who are we to argue? This 62-year-old Indian born American and British structural biologist shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He received India’s second highest civilian honor, the Padma Vibhushan, in 2010, and was knighted in the UK in 2012. Suffice to say he’s a big deal. A very big one.


Wendell Rodricks

This son of Goa is not only one of India’s top fashion designers, but also one of the world’s.  It’s no accident that the central government recently granted him the Padma Shri, one of the top civilian awards in the country.  Wendell does India, and Goa, very proud.


Shahrukh Khan

It’s not for nothing that this Indian acting legend is known as King Khan, for yes, in many ways he IS the king of Indian cinema, having acted in more than 50 Hindi films in a wide variety of genres and won pretty much every major award in the book. He’s 48 now, and still going strong. He’s also a noted philanthropist. At one point, he purchased shares in the cricket team Kolkata Knight Riders, but his talks to buy shares in a Goan football club didn’t pan out.


Leander Paes

This 40-year-old tennis legend of Goan origin is considered one of the best players in the world. He’s won eight doubles and six mixed doubles Grand Slam titles and finished as runner up in various other Grand Slam finals. Last year he and doubles partner Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic beat Austrian Alexander Peya and Brazilian Bruno Soares to lift the US Open Doubles title. He received India’s highest sporting honour, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, in addition to the Arjuna Award  and the Padma Shri. He is a descendant of the Bengali poet Michael Madhusudan Dutt through his mother. His father Vece Paes, a noted athlete in his own right, is Goan. And his family hails from Velim, where Paes himself has spent time. See the Goa Streets story on Paes at


Sanjit ‘Bunker’ Roy 

Mr. Roy deserves to be on this list not for his business prowess or ability to amass great wealth, but for his work to boost literacy in rural India and other humanitarian causes. He’s the founder of Barefoot College, which has trained more than 3 million people in the fields of solar engineering, teaching, weaving, architecture, medicine and midwifery.  His work has combined entrepreneurship, education and humanitarianism to help lead people out of poverty. For him, success has never been about lifting himself up, but rather his countrymen in need.