Nobel Prize is a set of international awards bestowed upon by the Swedish and Norwegian institutions in recognition of academic, scientific and cultural advancements. It was established in the year 1895 by the will of Alfred Nobel, a Swedish Chemist, engineer and industrialist. The prize is awarded in five categories namely Chemistry, Medicine, Peace, Physics and Literature.
Nobel Prize was first awarded in the year 1901 in all five categories and since then it is awarded every year to distinguished personalities in the above fields. It is worth noting that the Nobel Prize is not awarded posthumously and that was the reason why Mahatma Gandhi was not awarded Nobel Prize for Peace despite being a global messenger of “Satya” and “Ahimsa”.
In India, various personalities have been awarded Nobel Prize from time to time for their contribution to the world in different fields, with the first being Rabindranath Tagore. Let’s read more about some of our Nobel Laureates.
1. Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941): Rabindranath Tagore was the first Indian to receive Nobel Prize. Rabindranath Tagore was born on 7 May 1861 in Kolkata. He started writing at a young age and became one of the prominent poets of India known by the name Gurudev. Tagore is the author of India’s National Anthem and the founder of Shantiniketan which later became Vishwabharati University. He was awarded Nobel Prize for Literature in recognition of his collection of poems under the name Geetanjali in the year 1913.
2. C.V. Raman(1888-1970): Chandrashekhar Venkatraman was born in Thiruvanaikkaval near Tiruchirapalli in Tamil Nadu. Raman completed his studies from Presidency College in Chennai and later worked as a Professor of Physics at Calcutta University. He was the recipient of many awards and honours, including the title of “Sir”. He discovered that diffused light contains rays of other wavelengths and this was known as Raman Effect. In 1928 his theory explained the change in frequency of light while passing through a transparent medium and for this discovery in the field of optics he was awarded Nobel Prize of Physics in the year 1930.
3. Hargobind Khorana (1922-2011): Hargobind Khorana was born in Raipur, Punjab (now in Pakistan) on 7 January 1922. He completed his doctoral degree in Chemistry from Liverpool University and joined the University of Wisconsin as a Faculty Member in 1960. He interpreted the genetic code and analysed its function in protein synthesis which was a breakthrough at that time. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1968 for this research. Although he was a citizen of the USA when he was awarded Nobel Prize in 1968.
4. Mother Teresa (1910-1997): Mother Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu was born in Skopje(now in Yogoslavia) on 26 August 1910 to an Albanian family. She joined the Irish order of the Sisters of Loretto at Dublin in 1928 and later came to Kolkata in 1929 as a missionary. She was very concerned about the poor & sick people and this prompted her to found a new congregation, Missionaries of Charity. Teresa became a Citizen of India and founded Nirmal Hriday to serve the dying destitute and drug addicts. Her selfless service and unique devotion to humanity earned her a Nobel Peace Prize in the year 1979.
5. Subramanian Chandrashekhar (1910-1995): Subramanian Chandrashekhar was born on 19 October 1910 in Lahore, British India(present-day Pakistan).He was the nephew of Sir C.V. Raman. He completed his education from Presidency College in Chennai and later migrated to the United States where he authored several books on Astrophysics and Stellar Dynamics. S. Chandrashekhar was an Indian-born Astrophysicist who later took citizenship of USA. He developed a theory of dwarf stars which posts a limit of mass on dwarf stars known as Chandrashekhar Limit. His theory also explained the final stages of Stellar evolution for which he earned Nobel Prize for Physics in 1983.
6. Amartya Sen (born 1933): Amartya Sen was born on 3 November 1933 in Bengal Presidency(present-day West Bengal). He is an Indian Economist and Philosopher who has pioneered in Welfare Economics and has several books and papers to his credit. He has distinguished himself with his outstanding writings on famine, poverty, democracy, gender and social issues. The “Impossibility Theorem” suggested earlier by Kenneth Arrow states that it was not possible to aggregate individual choices into a satisfactory choice for society as a whole. Amartya Sen showed mathematically that societies could find ways to alleviate such a poor outcome. He became the first Asian to receive Nobel Prize for Economics in the year 1998 for his contribution to Welfare Economics.
7. Venki Ramakrishna (born 1952): Venki Ramakrishna is an Indian Structural Biologist born in 1952 in Chidamabaram, Tamil Nadu. He completed his bachelors from Baroda University and went to the USA for further studies. He has worked as a group leader at the Medical Research Council(MRC), Laboratory of Molecular Biology in the Cambridge Biomedical Campus in the UK. He is currently the President of the Royal Society. Venki Ramakrishna was awarded Nobel Prize for Chemistry in the year 2009 along with Thomas A. Steitz and Aza Yonath as co-recipients.
8. Kailash Satyarthi (born 1954): Kailash Satyarthi is an Indian Social Reformer who campaigned against Child labour in India & abroad and advocated the Universal Right to Education for children across the world. Kailash Satyarthi was born on 11 January 1954 in Vidisha district of Madhya Pradesh. He completed his education from Barkatullah University in Bhopal. He started “Bachpan Bachao Andolan”, an initiative which has liberated around 88,000 children in India from bonded labour till date. Kailash Satyarthi has been a member of UNESCO body established for providing Education to all. In 2014 he was awarded Nobel Peace Prize along with Malala Yousafzai as co- recipient “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.”
9. Abhijit Banerjee (born 1961): Abhijeet Banerjee is an India-American economist who was born in Mumbai on 21 February 1961 to a family of academicians. His early education included study at the University of Calcutta and Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. Later he completed his PhD from Harvard University in 1988. He was a Joint Supervisor of Esther’s PhD in Economics at MIT in 1999. In 2019 he was awarded Nobel Prize for Economics along with Esther Duflo of the MIT and Michael Kremer of Harvard University “for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.”