Weekend Image Post – Indian Nobel Laureates
The Nobel Prizes are prizes awarded annually to individuals and organizations who make outstanding contributions in the fields of chemistry, physics, physiology or medicine, literature, peace, and economics (established in 1968). They were established by the 1895 will of Alfred Nobel, which dictates that the awards should be administered by the Nobel Foundation. Each laureate receives a gold medal, a diploma, and a sum of money.
In our weekend image blog post we publish a list of Nobel laureates of Indian citizen, Indian birth and origin, and Indian connections. From 1913 to 2014, only eight Indians (citizen, birth and origin) have won the Nobel Prize.
Indian Citizen Laureates
The following are Nobel laureates who were Indian citizens at the time they were awarded the prize.
Rabindranath Tagore – Literature, 1913
(May 7, 1861 – August 7, 1941)
He was regarded one of the greatest literary and polymath of all time. He reshaped Bengali literature and music, as well as Indian art with Contextual Modernism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Author of Gitanjali and its profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse, he became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913.
“because of his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse, by which, with consummate skill, he has made his poetic thought, expressed in his own English words, a part of the literature of the West”
Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman – Physics, 1930
(November 7, 1888 – November 21, 1970)
He was an Indian physicist, born in the former Madras Province, whose ground breaking work in the field of light scattering earned him the 1930 Nobel Prize for Physics. He discovered that, when light traverses a transparent material, some of the deflected light changes in wavelength. This phenomenon is now called Raman scattering and is the result of the Raman effect. In 1954, he was honoured with the highest civilian award in India, the Bharat Ratna.
“for his work on the scattering of light and for the discovery of the effect named after him”
Mother Teresa – Peace, 1979
(August 26, 1910 – September 5, 1997)
Mother Teresa was a Roman Catholic Religious Sister and missionary of Kosovo Albanian origin who lived for most of her life in India. She founded the Missionaries of Charity that run hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis; soup kitchens; dispensaries and mobile clinics; children’s and family counselling programmes; orphanages; and schools.
Mother Teresa was the recipient of numerous honours including the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize.
Amartya Sen – Economic Sciences, 1998
(born on November 3, 1933)
Amartya Kumar Sen is an Indian economist and philosopher who since 1972 has taught and worked in the United Kingdom and the United States. He has made contributions to welfare economics, social choice theory, economic and social justice, economic theories of famines, and indexes of the measure of well-being of citizens of developing countries. He was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1998 for his work in welfare economics.
“for his contributions to welfare economics”
Kailash Satyarthi – Peace, 2014
(born on January 11, 1954)
Kailash Satyarthi is an Indian children’s rights advocate and an activist against child labour. He founded the Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement) in 1980 and has acted to protect the rights of more than 83,000 children from 144 countries.
His work is recognized through various national and international honours and awards including the Nobel Peace Prize of 2014, which he shared with Malala Yousafzai, a female education activist from Pakistan.
“for struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education”
Laureates of Indian Birth and Origin
The following are Nobel laureates of Indian birth and origin who subsequently took foreign citizenship; however, they are still often included in lists of Indian Nobel laureates.
Har Gobind Khorana – Physiology or Medicine, 1968
(January 9, 1922 – November 9, 2011)
Har Gobind Khorana was an Indian-American biochemist who shared the 1968 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Marshall W Nirenberg and Robert W Holley for research that helped to show how the order of nucleotides in nucleic acids, which carry the genetic code of the cell, control the cell’s synthesis of proteins.
“for their interpretation of the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis”
Subramanyan Chandrasekhar – Physics, 1983
(October 19, 1910 – August 21, 1995)
Subramanyan Chandrasekhar was an Indian American astrophysicist born in Lahore who, with William A Fowler, was awarded the 1983 Nobel Prize for Physics for his mathematical theory of black holes, which was a key discovery that led to the currently accepted theory on the later evolutionary stages of massive stars. The Chandrasekhar limit is named after him.
“for his theoretical studies of the physical processes of importance to the structure and evolution of the stars”
Venkatraman Ramakrishnan – Chemistry, 2009
(born in 1952, Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu, India)
Venkatraman Ramakrishnan is an Indian-born American and British structural biologist, who shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Thomas A Steitz and Ada E Yonath, “for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome”.
“for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome”
Laureates with Indian Connections
The following are Nobel laureates with Indian connections – those of Indian birth or descent or those who were resident in India when they were awarded the prize.
Ronald Ross – Physiology or Medicine, 1902
(May 13, 1857 – September 16, 1932)
Sir Ronald Ross, born in Almora, Uttarakhand, India, in 1857, was an Indian-born British medical doctor who received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1902 for his work on malaria. He worked in the Indian Medical Service for 25 years.
“for his work on malaria, by which he has shown how it enters the organism and thereby has laid the foundation for successful research on this disease and methods of combating it”
Joseph Rudyard Kipling – Literature, 1907
(December 30, 1865 – January 18, 1936)
Rudyard Kipling was an English short-story writer, poet, and novelist. He wrote tales and poems of British soldiers in India and stories for children. He was born in the Bombay Presidency of British India, and was taken by his family to England when he was five years old. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1907.
14th Dalai Lama – Peace, 1989
(born on July 6, 1935)
The 14th Dalai Lama (religious name: Tenzin Gyatso, born Lhamo Dondrub), is the current Dalai Lama, as well as the longest-lived incumbent. Dalai Lamas are the head monks of the Gelug school, the newest of the schools of Tibetan Buddhism. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, and is also well known for his lifelong advocacy for Tibetans inside and outside Tibet. He exiled to India in 1959.
Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul – Literature, 2001
(born on August 17, 1932)
VS Naipaul is a Trinidad-born Nobel Prize-winning British writer of Indian heritage known for his comic early novels set in Trinidad, his bleaker later novels of the wider world, and his autobiographical chronicles of life and travels.
The omission of Mahatma Gandhi has been widely discussed and publicly regretted by later members of the Nobel Committee. The Committee has confirmed that Gandhi was nominated in 1937, 1938, 1939, 1947, and, finally, a few days before his death in January 1948.
In 1948, the Nobel Prize in Peace was not awarded. The Nobel Foundation’s website suggests that it would have been awarded to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, however, due to his assassination earlier that year, it was left unassigned in his honor.
The greatest omission in our 106-year history is undoubtedly that Mahatma Gandhi never received the Nobel Peace prize. Gandhi could do without the Nobel Peace prize, whether Nobel committee can do without Gandhi is the question.
Geir Lundestad, Secretary of Norwegian Nobel Committee in 2006
Nobel laureates of India
List of Nobel laureates by country
List of Nobel laureates
Official WebSite of Nobel Prize
India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: Bhārat Gaṇarājya), is a sovereign country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second most populous country, and the most populous democracy in the world.
Home to the Indus Valley civilization and a region of historic trade routes and vast empires, the Indian subcontinent was identified with its commercial and cultural wealth for much of its long history.