Punjab has always been at the forefront of India’s progress, from the movement for independence to the supply of large numbers of soldiers to the Indian army. As a result, Punjab has significantly contributed to the country’s development. That concludes our list of;
27 famous Punjabi figures who have shaped India’s Today
1. Brigadier Kuldip Singh Chandpuri
Kuldip Singh Chandpuri was born in Montgomery, Punjab, British India, on November 22, 1940, to a Sikh family. A decorated army officer, Brigadier Kuldip Singh Chandpuri, served the Punjab Regiment during the 1971 war between Pakistan and India. He was a major in the 23rd Battalion of the Indian Army. Due to his heroism as a leader during the Battle of Longewala, he was given the Maha Vir Chakra (MVC). As a brigadier, he retired from the army, his contribution towards the society is one of the reason for current shape of India.
2. Diljit Dosanjh
Diljit Dosanjh is a Punjabi singer, actor, and television presenter from Punjab, India. He was born in the village of Dosanjh Kalan in Phillaur tehsil, Jalandhar district, Punjab, India, on January 6, 1984, to a Sikh family. He has made significant contributions to the Punjabi music industry. In 2023, Diljit Dosanjh was named to the Coachella line-up, one of the world’s most well-known and popular music festivals, which takes place in California, USA. This will be a tremendous milestone for the Indian music industry and Diljit Dosanjh, giving him a global platform to showcase his talent.
3. Sunil Mittal
Bharti Enterprises’ chairman, founder, and group CEO is Indian businessman Sunil Mittal, born on 23 October 1957 in Ludhiana, Punjab. Mittal was named one of the world’s greatest philanthropists after opening over 200 schools in 2009. In 2007, he received the Padma Bhushan. When we talk about the Indian businessman that shaped India, Sunil Mittal definitely holds a place on the list.
4. Har Gobind Khorana
Har Gobind Khorana was an Indian-American biochemist who worked on nucleic acids. He was born in Raipur, which is now in Punjab, Pakistan. In 1968, Khorana was awarded the Physiology Nobel Prize. India’s development as a nation in the field of science is greatly contributed by him.
5. Rakesh Sharma
Rakesh Sharma is a former test pilot in the Indian Air Force who was born in Patiala. He is the first and only citizen of India to travel into space. Sharma famously responded, “Saare Jahan se accha, Hindustan Hamara,” when Indira Gandhi, the former prime minister of India, asked him how India looked from space.
6. Mohammed Rafi
Mohammad Rafi, born in Amritsar, was one of Bollywood’s most well-known and sought-after singers. His songs included qawwalis, ghazals, bhajans, sad laments, patriotic songs, classical numbers, and patriotic songs. He won six Filmfare Awards, one National Award, the Best Singer of the Millennium Award, and the Padma Shri throughout his career. He also recorded songs in Hindi, Konkani, Bhojpuri, Odia, Punjabi, Bengali, Marathi, Sindhi, Kannada, Gujarati, Telugu, Magahi, Maithili, Urdu, English, Persian, Spanish, and Dutch, in addition to Assamese, Konkani, Bhojpuri, Odia, and Hindi.
7. Yash Chopra
Yash Chopra was a scriptwriter, film producer, and one of the most recognizable Hindi film directors. He was born on 27 September 1932 in Lahore(Present-day Pakistan) , Punjab, British India. He established and served as Chairman of Yash Raj Studios and Yash Raj Films and is regarded as one of the most influential Hindi film directors of all time. Throughout his illustrious and lengthy career, Chopra, better known as the “King of Romance” of Indian cinema, won six National Film Awards, eleven Filmfare Awards, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, and the Padma Bhushan.
8. Gulzar (Sampooran Singh Kalra)
Sampooran Singh Kalra is an Indian poet, lyricist, and film director born in Dina, Punjab Province (present-day Pakistan). He is better known by the name Gulzar. He has also written poetry, dialogues, and scripts. He has received numerous honors, including a Grammy and an Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire. In addition, he has been praised with the Padma Bhushan, a Sahitya Akademi Award, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, several Indian National Film Awards, and the Filmfare Awards.
9. Manmohan Singh
Manmohan Singh, a prominent economist who served as India’s 13th Prime Minister from 2004-2014, was born in Gah, Punjab Province (present-day Pakistan). He worked for the United Nations from 1966 to 1969. Before becoming Prime Minister, he had previously held the positions of Chief Economic Advisor, Governor of the Reserve Bank, and Head of the India Planning Commission. In addition, he has earned an honorary doctorate from several universities. Manmohan Singh is the one who has greatly contributed to the current Image of India.
10. Milkha Singh
Milkha Singh, better known as The Flying Sikh, was a former Indian track and field sprinter born in Govindpura, Punjab Province (present-day Pakistan). He competed in 80 races and won a staggering 77 of them. He won four gold medals at the Asian Games and one at the Commonwealth Games, but he famously missed out on the bronze medal at the 1960 Olympics in Rome by one-hundredth of a second. In 1959, he was given the Padma Shri.
11. Yuvraj Singh
Indian cricketer Yuvraj Singh was a member of the Indian team that won the 2007 ICC World Twenty20 and 2011 Cricket World Cup. He was born in Chandigarh. In 2007 World Twenty20, Yuvraj was famous for hitting six sixes in one over against England, resulting in the fastest fifty runs ever scored in the twenty-20 format from just 12 balls. The Padma Shri and the Arjuna Award were presented to Singh.
12. Navjot Singh Sidhu
Navjot Singh Sidhu was an Indian cricketer who played from 1983 to 1999. In the 2000s, he became famous for his one-liners, or “Sidhuism,” in television commentary. He was born on 20th October 1963 in Patiala, Punjab. Sidhu became the first Indian participant to score more than five centuries in a single-day international.
13. Raj Kapoor
Raj Kapoor was an actor, producer, and director in Bollywood who was born in Peshawar. He is considered one of the most talented artists in Bollywood history. He received the Padma Bhushan, two National Film Awards, nine Filmfare Awards, and a Dadasaheb Phalke Award. In addition, in 1951 and 1954, he was up for the Palme d’Or grand prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
14. Kapil Sharma
Kapil Sharma is an Indian actor, comedian, and television personality born in Amritsar. He became famous after winning multiple seasons of Sony’s Comedy Circus. In the end, he got his show, Comedy Nights with Kapil, which was hugely popular with viewers. In 2016, he was ranked 11th; in 2017, he was ranked 18th on Forbes’ Celebrity 100 list.
15. Harbhajan Singh
Harbhajan Singh is an Indian cricket player, commentator, and actor born in Jalandhar, Punjab. Singh has taken the second most test wickets of any off-spinner, and Mumbai Indians won the Champions League Twenty20 in 2011 under his captaincy. In 2009, he was rewarded the Padma Shri.
16. Kuldip Nayar
Kuldip Nayar was an Indian journalist, author, columnist, human rights activist, and former High Commissioner of India to the United Kingdom. He was born in Sialkot, Punjab Province (present-day Pakistan). From 1997 to 2003, he was a Rajya Sabha member. Kuldip Nayar’s contribution to today’s image of India is also undoubtedly great.
17. Kalpana Chawla
Kalpana Chawla was an Indian-American astronaut born in Karnal, Punjab, and served as the primary robotic arm operator aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1997. In 2003, she flew for the second time into space aboard the STS-107, Columbia’s 28th and final mission.
The space shuttle spent more than 15 days in orbit, carrying out several experiments successfully. However, Columbia exploded upon re-entry, killing all seven crew members. Kalpana will always be the pride of the nation.
He is an actor, politician, and producer who goes by the professional name Dharmendra. Dharam Singh Deol has been the lead actor in more than 100 successful films. He was born on 8th December 1935 in Nasrali, Punjab. From 2005 to 2009, he served as a Lok Sabha member representing Bikaner. He has won several awards, the most recent of which was the 1997 Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2012, he also received the Padma Bhushan.
19. Bharti Singh
Born in Amritsar on July 3, 1984, Bharti Singh is an Indian comedian and television personality. Singh has hosted numerous award shows and created numerous comedy shows. Singh has been on Forbes India’s Celebrity 100 list since 2016. She is one of the comedy industry’s most well-known women. In addition, Bharti has been ranked nationally in pistol shooting and archery.
20. Harnaaz Sandhu
Harnaaz Kaur Sandhu is an Indian model, actress, and beauty pageant winner who was crowned Miss Universe 2021. She was born on March 3, 2000, in the village of Kohali in the Gurdaspur district of Punjab. Sandhu is the third Indian contestant to win Miss Universe. She previously won the title of Miss Diva Universe 2021. Sandhu also won Femina Miss India Punjab in 2019 and made it to the Femina Miss India 2019 semifinals.
21. Balbir Singh Seechewal
A Nirmala Sikh who spearheaded an anti-river pollution campaign in Punjab, India, Balbir Singh Seechewal was born on February 2, 1962, to an agricultural family in Seechewal, which is in the Jalandhar district of Punjab.
He has revived the 110-mile (180-kilometer) long Kali Bein rivulet by combining Gurbani’s environmental philosophy with his meticulously developed self-help philosophy. In 2017, former Indian President Pranab Mukherjee presented him with the Indian civilian award Padmashri. He is also known as Eco Baba.
22. Surjit Pattar
Surjit Patar is a poet and writer of the Punjabi language. His poems are well-liked by the general public and have received a lot of praise from critics. Patar is from the Jalandhar district village of Pattar Kalan, where he got his surname. He began writing poetry in the middle of the 1960s.
“Hawa vich Likhe Harf,” Words Written in the Air,” Birkh Arz Kare,” Thus Spake the Tree, “Hanere Vich Sulagdi Varnmala,” Words Smouldering in the Dark, “Lafzaan Di Dargah,” Shrine of Words “Patjhar Di Pazeb,” Anklet of Autumn,” and “Surzameen” Music Land are among his poems. He has welcomed several honors, including the Padma Shri Award for Excellence in Literature and Education.
23. Bhagwant Singh Mann
Bhagwant Singh Mann was born on October 17, 1973, in Satoj, a village in the Sunam tehsil of the Sangrur district in the Indian state of Punjab. He is an Indian politician serving as Punjab’s 16th and current chief minister. He is an associate of the Aam Aadmi Party and heads the Punjab cabinet ministry. He was an actor, comedian, and satirist in the past.
24. Kapil Dev
Kapil Dev Ramlal Nikhanj, also known as Kapil Dev, was born on January 6th, 1959 in Chandigarh and is a former Indian cricketer. In 2002, Wisden named him the Indian Cricketer of the Century. He was a middle-order batsman and a fast-medium bowler who hit hard. Kapil Dev won several Awards, including the Arjuna Award, Padma Shri, Bharat Gaurav award, and many more.
25. Bhagat Singh
Bhagat Singh was born on 28th September 1907, in Bangay (Present day Pakistan). He was a prominent Indian socialist revolutionary during the Indian independence movement. He is known for his revolutionary activities against British colonial rule in India.
He was a key member of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA). Bhagat Singh, along with his associates, plotted and executed several bombings and acts of violence against the British government in India. His execution at age 23 made him a martyr and a symbol of resistance to the Indian independence movement. He is still celebrated as a hero in India and holds a major role in today’s image of India.
26. Sidhu Moose Wala
Sidhu Moose Wala is a Punjabi singer, lyricist, and actor from Punjab, India. He was born in Moosa, Village in Punjab. His songs often focus on social issues such as poverty, unemployment, and drug addiction. He has a huge following in Punjab and other parts of India. He has become a prominent figure in the Punjabi entertainment industry and is an influential voice in the region.
27. Narinder Singh Kapany
Narinder Singh Kapany, born in Moga, Punjab was an Indian-American physicist and entrepreneur widely considered the “father of fiber optics.” He made significant contributions to the fiber optics field, a key technology in telecommunications and internet infrastructure. He was the first to demonstrate that light could be transmitted through thin, transparent fibers made of glass or plastic. He also developed several important fiber optic devices and systems, including the first microscope.
His work laid the foundation for the modern fiber optic communications industry. The Government of India awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2002 for his contributions to science and technology. He has majorly contributed to the today’s shape of India. Unfortunately, Kapany passed away in 2018.
These were the 29 Famous personalities that have played a significant role in the today’s shape of India. Some of them have contributed in the science sector while some in entertainment and while some in the freedom fight, drawing one similarity in common that is dedicating themselves for a better picture of our nation, India.