What do you remember from the year that has gone by? Who made it to the headlines? More importantly, who do you remember from 2013?

The year 2013, like any other year, was eventful and more. It had its ups and downs, and causes for celebrations and mourning. It gave us a peek into the discoveries that expanded our intellectual horizons, and disasters that broke our hearts, making us conscious of our actions and the fleeting moments in life. Other than the events that made the year special, there were many people who made news. Some were in the news for the wrong reasons while others made some significant impact on our lives and ideals. On New Year’s Eve, let’s take a look at some people who were in the spotlight.

Edward Snowden

What made the world sit up and take notice of this 29-year-old American computer specialist and former employee of a US defence contractor? Snowden exposed the mass surveillance programme – PRISM – operated by America National Security Agency (NSA) that collected private electronic data (including personal emails and chats) of billions of internet users around the world. Edward Snowden released top-secret documents to the press and left the US fearing prosecution. He is currently in Russia seeking asylum elsewhere.

“I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things. I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded.” – Snowden in his interview to The Guardian

Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai came to the public eye in 2012 when she was shot by the Taliban for her unrelenting pursuit for girls’ education and stand against their oppressive regime in Pakistan. Following her recovery in London, Malala has been actively involved in women’s rights and education. On July 12, 2013, her 16th birthday, Malala delivered an inspiring speech at the United Nations calling for worldwide access to education and it was dubbed ‘Malala Day’. She has co-authored the book I am Malala, which was released in October. She has also won several awards and honours including the 2013 United Nations Human Rights Prize.

“Let us pick up our books and our pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.” – Malala at the UN

Eleanor Catton

Eleanor Catton is a New Zealand author. Why was she in the news, you wonder? Her second novel The Luminaries won her the 2013 Man Booker Prize, making her the youngest author, at 28, to win the prize.

“In which a stranger arrives in Hokitika; a secret council is disturbed; Walter Moody conceals his most recent memory; and Thomas Balfour begins to tell a story.” – Opening lines of the chapter ‘Mercury in Sagittarius’ from The Luminaries

Alice Munro

Do you know who was awarded this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature? No points for guessing, you just read her name! Alice Munro is the first Canadian and 13th woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. She is primarily known for her short stories and is cited as a “master of contemporary short story”. In 2009, she was honoured with the Man Booker International Prize for her lifetime body of work. She announced that she was retiring from writing in June 2013.

“In my own work, I tend to cover a lot of time and to jump back and forward in time, and sometimes the way I do this is not very straightforward.” – Alice Munro about her writing style

Sachin Tendulkar

Sachin Tendulkar neither needs an introduction nor a description. India’s ‘God of Cricket’ announced his retirement from all forms of the sport after playing his 200th test. The Indian government has decided to confer him with the Bharat Ratna, making him the youngest recipient of the award.

“We did not lose to a team called India... we lost to a man called Sachin.” – Mark Taylor, former Australian captain in 1998

C.N.R. Rao

Chintamani Nagesa Ramachandra Rao is an Indian scientist and chemist known for his work in solid-state chemistry. It was announced this year that he would be conferred with the Bharat Ratna for his contribution to the scientific community. He currently serves as the Head of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India and is a member of major scientific organisations including ISRO, Indian Institute of Science, Oxford University and Cambridge University among others.

“I feel basic science is getting its due now...” – C.N.R. Rao on being conferred with the Bharat Ratna

Margaret Thatcher

Have you heard of the Iron Lady? Margaret Thatcher, the former Prime Minister of Britain, died on April 8, 2013. She was known as the Iron Lady, a frequently used nickname for female world leaders, for her strong and uncompromising politics. She was UK’s longest serving PM and the only woman to have held the office from 1979 to 1990.

“In politics, if you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman.” – Margaret Thatcher

Shakuntala Devi

If you could multiply 7,686,369,774,870 and 2,465,099,745,779, and arrive at the correct answer within 28 seconds, you could earn yourself the title of a human computer and a place in the Guinness Book of Records. Shakuntala Devi, who had achieved this feat long ago, died on April 21, 2013. Known as the human computer, her arithmetic talents and mental abilities are revered by many around the world including Google, which honoured Devi with a Google Doodle on her birthday on November 4. She has authored several fiction and non-fiction books on mathematics, puzzles and astrology.

“The purpose of my life is to make everybody, especially children, enjoy Maths as an affable and joyful experience.”– Shakuntala Devi

Magnus Carlsen

The Norwegian invasion has begun! At least on the chess board... Twenty-three year-old Magnus Carlsen of Norway was crowned the new chess champion after beating India’s Viswanathan Anand in the World Chess Championship 2013 in Chennai.

“You could say that both (Bobby) Fischer and Carlsen had or have the ability to let chess look simple.”– Viswanathan Anand

P.V. Sindhu

Saina Nehwal needs to make room for the newest star in the badminton circuit. Pusarla Venkata Sindhu is a badminton player who became the first Indian to have won a medal in women’s singles at the World Badminton Championship in August this year. She also won the Malaysian Open Grand Prix Gold and the Macau Open Badminton Championships further cementing her status in the international circuit.

“The most striking feature in Sindhu’s game is her attitude and the never-say-die spirit.”– Pullela Gopichand, former badminton player, coach and founder of Gopichand Badminton Academy, where P.V. Sindhu trains

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela, former South African president, messenger of global peace and anti-apartheid revolutionary, died on December 5, 2013. He spent 27 years in prison for his fight to end apartheid (racial division). A follower of Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent movement, Mandela was able to influence not only his countrymen, but also many from different walks of life around world. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1993. He won the general elections and became South Africa’s first black president in 1994.

Did you know that he was also conferred with the Bharat Ratna by the Indian government?

“I hate race discrimination most intensely and in all its manifestations. I have fought it all during my life; I fight it now, and will do so until the end of my days.” – Nelson Mandela

Arundhati Bhattacharya

Arundhati Bhattacharya is the first woman to be the chairperson of the State Bank of India (SBI) and also lead a Fortune 500 company in India. Heading the country’s largest banking institution makes Bhattacharya one of the most powerful women in the world.

Arvind Kejriwal

Arvind Kejriwal hit the headlines when he won the Delhi Legislative Assembly polls and was sworn in as the Chief Minister. He is the youngest CM of Delhi at the age of 45 years. Last year, he had formed the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which recently won 28 seats in the Delhi elections. The Magsaysay awardee had joined Anna Hazare’s India Against Corruption (IAC) movement following a slew of scams and corruption cases that blew the lid off of the Central Government in 2011.

“Political revolution in India has begun. Bharat jaldi badlega.” – Kejriwal’s Twitter profile description.

Chanda Kochhar, Chitra Ramkrishna, Shikha Sharma and Naina Lal Kidwai

In October, Fortune magazine released the list of the world’s top 50 women business leaders, which featured Chanda Kochhar (CEO of ICICI Bank), Chitra Ramkrishna (MD & CEO of National Stock Exchange), Shikha Sharma (CEO of Axis Bank) and Naina Lal Kidwai (Country Head of HSBC India). That these women are on the list is a great moment for our country as we compete among other giants in the global economy.