Twenty-five legends honoured for outstanding contributions

To become achievers we need courage and determination, said President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday while presenting India’s 25 greatest global Indian living legends awards at the Rashtrapati Bhavan here.

The awards, instituted by television news channel NDTV as part of its 25-years celebrations, recognise and honour 25 individuals for outstanding contribution in their respective fields.

Presenting the awards, Mr. Mukherjee said India must take its rightful place among nations and invest in education and innovation to build a world-class education system. Commenting on the achievements of the awardees, the President said a lesson that can be drawn from the lives of these 25 awardees is that there are no shortcuts to success.

Pushing for reforms in education and innovation, the President expressed concern that Indian universities had not been able to produce any Nobel Laureate after Sir C.V. Raman.

“There is no lack of talented teachers, students but what we are failing in is to coordinate them, to give them the priority to create the atmosphere which can produce Amartya Sen, Venkat Rama Krishan, Har Gobind Khorana and many others,” he said.

Both the Nobel Laureates who were awarded at the function had done their post-graduation from Indian universities, Mr. Mukherjee pointed out adding: “We can invest in innovation in education and build up a world class education in this country, which is not a dream.”

Among the awardees were Bharat Ratna Dr. Amartya Sen; actors Amitabh Bachchan, Rajnikanth, Waheeda Rahman, Shah Rukh Khan; eminent scientists M.S. Swaminathan, Bharat Ratna C.N.R. Rao; cricketers Sachin Tendulkar, Kapil Dev; Nobel laureate V. Ramakrishnan; noted orchestra conductor Zubin Mehta; Dr. S.S. Badrianth of the Sankara Nethralaya for his contribution to medicine, Tennis player Leander Paes; eminent lawyer Fali Nariman; social activist Ela Bhat; noted artist Anish Kapoor; Ratan Tata of Tata group, Mukesh Ambani of Reliance, N.R. Narayana Murthy of Infosys, CEO of Pepsi Indra Nooyi and Cipla Chairman Y.K. Hamied; and novelist Vikram Seth.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Sen said he was “extremely honoured, deeply grateful, quite overwhelmed.” Dr. Swaminathan spoke of India’s transition from a nation that was perceived to have no future and a food crisis to the present day where food security is a reality. “The future belongs to nations with grains not guns,” he said in his acceptance speech.

Mr. Tendulakar’s advice to the youth was to play outdoor games. “I would encourage the youth of India to dream because dreams come true if you chase them hard,” he said while superstar Rajnikanth said miracles do happen in life. Mr. Rahman said he was deeply humbled and that being an Indian was a great blessing. He also thanked the state of Tamil Nadu for encouraging him. Mr. Bachchan recalled the advice he received from his father poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan.

Accepting the award, Dr. Badrinath called for the young to contribute towards making affordable and quality health care in India a reality. He said since India was a poor country, there was a deficit of affordable and good health care.

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