Indians are often considered to be amongst the most intelligent people in the whole world. As Albert Einstein once noted, “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change,” Indians too have evolved and grown with time, in the process contributing significantly to issues concerning the whole world. Not only are they born intellectuals, but they also display the drive to learn, practice and hone their skills in whichever field of studies they set their mind to. To Indians, since time immemorial, education has been synonymous with a sense of pride and freedom. Knowledge and intellect go hand-in-hand, and are the two essentials for defining the character of a person. There are innumerable Indians who have proved to be pioneers of revolutionary thoughts and ideas in the field of mathematics, physics, engineering, astronomy, economics, philosophy, medicine, and politics. Most of these people have proved, not just to their own country but also to the rest of the world that they are indeed worthy of being worshipped. Read the article to know more about the 15 most intelligent Indians ever.
1. Amartya Sen
A Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences and a recipient of the Bharat Ratna Award, Amartya Sen is an alumnus of Kolkata’s Presidency College, and the Trinity College of Cambridge. He is known for having found solutions to the chronic issue of food scarcity and starvation, rampant in India. Sen has also written numerous books, including ‘On Economic Inequality,’ ‘Development as Freedom,’ ‘The Argumentative Indian’, which has gained immense popularity across the globe. Not only is he a writer and an economist, he also teaches at various prestigious educational institutions such as Thomas W. Lamont University and Harvard University.
2. APJ Abdul Kalam
Not only is A.P.J. Abdul Kalam well-known as the 11th President of India, but is also a celebrated scientist. Nicknamed the “Missile Man of India,” Kalam was responsible for having designed missiles for various projects undertaken by the ‘Indian Space Research Organization.’ A student of the prestigious Madras Institute of Technology, Kalam worked as the Secretary of Defense Research and Development Organization, as well as Chief Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister, before being appointed as the President.
3. Satyendranath Bose
Satyendranath Bose was a famous Indian scientist known best for his research on quantum mechanics, and collaboration with the renowned Albert Einstein. Having been trained under the likes of Prafulla Chandra Roy and Jagadish Chandra Bose, he shot to fame for the Bose-Einstein statistics. Bose also specialized in a wide range of subjects such as nuclear physics, engineering, geology and organic chemistry.
4. C.V. Raman
Sir Chandrasekhar Venkata Raman was the first Indian to be awarded the Nobel Prize for his contribution to the field of Physics. Though he initially started studying the principles behind acoustics and optics, he eventually became famous after his monumental research on the dispersion of light. This significant research conducted by this brilliant scientist was referred to as the ‘Raman Effect.’ His scientific papers and articles were published in prestigious journals such as ‘Physics Review,’ ‘Nature,’ and ‘The Philosophical Magazine.’
5. Srinivasa Ramanujan
This brilliant mathematician, who specialized in areas like continued fractions, number theory and identities, showed particular skill in his research on Bernoulli numbers. Ramanujan was held in high regard by others like him all around the world, including G.H. Hardy from England. In fact, his work in the subject was so exemplary that Bruce C. Berndt, a famous American mathematician, compiled and published all his research in what is known as ‘The Ramanujan Journal.’
6. Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar
This Nobel Prize-winning astrophysicist catapulted to fame for his theory of black holes. He has also worked on other scientific areas of study, such as quantum theory, radiative transfer, and the evolution of stars. However, it is his theory involving gravity, mass and the structure of atoms, called the ‘Chandrasekhar Limit,’ that he is best known for. Having shown an interest in astronomy from a tender age, he studied at the best of institutions, including the University of Cambridge, Trinity College, Born’s Institute, and the Institute for Theoretical Physics.
7. Manmohan Singh
Manmohan Singh, a former Prime Minister of India, is highly educated and is considered as one of the most learned Indians ever. Specializing in Economics, he has studied at esteemed institutions like Punjab University, University of Cambridge, and University of Oxford. Having completed his Doctor of Philosophy in Economics, he served in various capacities including the Director of Reserve Bank of India, before serving as the Prime Minister of India.
8. P.V. Narasimha Rao
Hailed as the “Father of Indian Economic Reforms,” P.V. Narasimha Rao was a famous Indian politician. As the 10th Indian Prime Minister, Rao introduced several measures to enhance development of the nation’s economy. This learned man was well-versed in 17 languages, despite being born into a Telugu speaking family. He has made major contributions to long-standing economic concerns, including privatization of public sector companies, fiscal deficit, and investment in various areas of development.
9. Raghuram G. Rajan
Presently holding the distinguished position as the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, Raghuram Rajan is a gold medalist from renowned institutes such as the IIM Ahmedabad and IIT Delhi. He earned a Ph.D. from the MIT Sloan School of Management in Cambridge, specializing in Management. Before his current office as RBI Governor, he has also served as the President of the American Finance Association, and an honorary economic adviser to Dr. Manmohan Singh when the latter was the Prime Minister.
10. Homi Jehangir Bhabha
Homi Jehangir Bhabha is considered by many to be the “father of Indian nuclear program.” Though Bhabha was a mechanical engineer by profession, it was research in physics that he actually wanted to pursue. He moved to Europe, where he had the opportunity to work along with accomplished physicists, and once back to India, he founded the ‘Cosmic Ray Research Unit.’ He is known for his extensive study of theoretical and nuclear physics.
11. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar
Dr. B. R. Ambedkar broke all discriminating boundaries in India, and went on to become the first law minister of Independent India, despite belonging to the Dalit caste, who were then considered untouchables. This intelligent man studied from the finest of colleges, including the London School of Economics and the Columbia University. He is known as the mind behind the Indian Constitution, and his struggle against injustice towards the backward classes of the society. His contribution is considered so significant that he was honored with the Bharat Ratna posthumously.
12. Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy
The second Chief Minister of West Bengal, Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy is revered to this day, not only as a prominent patriotic leader, but also as one of the most qualified doctors of those times. Having studied from the Medical College affiliated to the University of Calcutta, he was also a reputed social reformer. He revolutionized the treatment of patients suffering from tuberculosis and cancer, establishing hospitals like Chittaranjan Cancer Hospital and Jadavpur T.B. Hospital, across Kolkata. He even encouraged women to not only opt for quality maternity services, but also to start earning a living for themselves as nurses and social workers.
Aryabhatta was an accomplished astronomer and mathematician who is still eulogized for his accurate calculation of the mathematical value of ‘pi’ up to four decimal points. He is also known for developing the formula for finding out the area of circles and triangles. As an astronomer, he observed that it is sunlight that reflects from the surface of planets, hence making them shine bright in the sky. He also researched further on the concept of eclipses, coming to the conclusion that they are the result of the shadows of the earth and the moon. His astronomical studies gave birth to the idea that the earth may not be flat and one-dimensional after all.
This learned Indian gained prominence during the rule of Chandragupta Maurya, who proved to be an efficient king only under the influence of Chanakya, who is also known as Kautilya or Vishnu Gupta. Chanakya is famous for his book on politics and economics, known as ‘Arthaśāstra.’ He also taught both the subjects at one of the earliest Indian universities established at Takshila. He also exercised great power as Chief Advisor to Chandragupta and successor Bindusara.
15. Swami Vivekananda
An Arts graduate from Calcutta’s premier institution, the Presidency College, Swami Vivekananda was well-versed in Hindu scriptures, religion, and Western philosophy. However, he chose to renounce worldly attachments and became a spiritual leader at a very young age. Considered Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa as his guru, Swami Vivekananda had travelled around the whole world, delivering lectures of philosophy, logic and spirituality at various institutions. He is also known for his establishment of the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission, both aimed at the society’s betterment.