We see that the number of millionaires of Indian origin in Europe, USA, Canada, South Africa and East Asian countries held together far exceeds the number of millionaires in India.

There is a popular saying that “Indians are best when they are out of India”. Who or what gave rise to this line is not known, but there can hardly be any gainsay to this statement. For time immemorial we have seen that most of the famous people, who have made the name of India shine in global terms, are people of Indian origin but basically residents of a foreign country.

Intriguing, but true. The Non Resident Indians have really made a indelible mark for themselves in the international scenario. It is been consistently seen from entering into the list of top innovators of the world or people who are receiving prestigious awards; or people who are being who nominated so as to give a facelift, the NRIs are making news anywhere and everywhere.

On one hand, in the US and UK universities, we have students of Indian parents always getting the best of grades and topping the charts; while on the other, we see that the number of millionaires of Indian origin in Europe, USA, Canada, South Africa and East Asian countries held together far exceeds the number of millionaires in India. One can find a long list of eminent academicians; eminent art, culture and literary personalities; men of high profile business and enterprise; politicians; sports persons – representatives of all walks of life, among these highly talented and conspicuous Indian Diaspora.

While the triumphing NRIs are found all over the globe, the most successful and remarkable lot is probably found in the United States. These Indian achievers include Sindhis, Sikhs, Gujaratis, Punjabis, Keralites, and Bengalees, and they don the role of corporate bigwigs to technology whizkids to Hollywood impresarios and have leapfrogged into mainstream America.

Not only in terms of talent and expertise in their respective fields, the NRI community in the US is also an affluent lot, in fact better than the native Americans. A recent US Census study revealed that the average annual income of Indian American family happens to be $ 60,000 against that of the national average of $38,885. The annual buying capacity of the American Indian community stands at an astronomical $20 billion!

A cursory glance on the following list of such successful and eminent NRIs in USA will indeed make every Indian proud.


– Shreeram Shankar Abhyankar, mathematician, singularity theory and Abhyankar’s conjecture of finite group theory
– Balamurali Ambati, physician, world’s youngest doctor at age 17
– Homi K. Bhabha, post-colonial theorist at Harvard
– Mani Lal Bhaumik, inventor of excimer laser technology
– Subramanyan Chandrasekhar, Nobel Laureate in Physics, 1983
– Atul Gawande, general and endocrine surgeon , medical author, National Book Award finalist
– Dipak C. Jain, Dean of the J. L. Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University
– Aravind Joshi, computer scientist, defined the tree-adjoining grammar formalism
– Narendra Karmarkar, mathematician, inventor of Karmarkar algorithm
– Narinder Singh Kapany, engineer, called the “Father of Fiber Optics”
– Har Gobind Khorana, Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine (1968)
– Anil Nerode, mathematician, proved the Myhill-Nerode Theorem
– Arun Netravali, scientist, former President, Bell Labs, former CTO, Lucent
– C. Kumar N. Patel, developed the carbon dioxide laser, used as a cutting tool in surgery and industry
– C.K. Prahalad, leading management guru
– Raghuram Rajan, IMF Chief Economist, inaugural winner of the Fischer Black Prize
– Raj Reddy, Turing Award winner and founder of the Robotics Institute at CMU.
– Amartya Sen, The Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, 1998
– Madhu Sudan, computer science professor at MIT, winner Rolf Nevanlinna Prize
– George Sudarshan, physicist, author – first to propose the existence of Tachyon
– Divakar Viswanath, mathematician who discovered Viswanath’s constant

Arts & Entertainment

– Ravi Batra, best selling author and economist
– Anand Bhatt, musician and producer
– Jay Chandrasekhar, actor, comedian, writer, and film director
– Anita Desai, author
– Engelbert Humperdinck, singer
– Zakir Hussain, tabla maestro
– Vijay Iyer, jazz musician and composer
– Norah Jones, singer, Grammy award winner 2003, half Indian, daughter of Ravi Shankar
– Tony Kanal, Bass player for No Doubt, two-time Grammy award winner, producer, songwriter
– Padma Lakshmi, model, actress, and author
– Zubin Mehta – conductor, New York Philharmonic Orchestra
– Ismail Merchant – film producer
– Ajay Naidu, actor
– Mira Nair, filmmaker, won the Golden Camera award at the Cannes Film Festival and nominated for an Oscar for Salaam Bombay!
– Sunil Nayar, TV writer and producer, a Producer of CSI: Miami
– Kal Penn, actor
– Hillol Ray, Poet Laureate, Author, and Songwriter, wrote “Earth Day”
– Sheetal Sheth, actress
– Manick Sorcar, animator, artist, and producer
– Kim Thayil, guitarist for rock group Soundgarden
– Naren Shankar, TV writer, producer and director, an Executive Producer of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
– M. Night Shyamalan, filmmaker, actor
– Babu Subramaniam, TV series Director and Assistant Director
– Kaavya Viswanathan, teen-aged novelist famous for a six-figure book deal and a Disney film
– Navi Rawat, guest star on The O.C.
– Sameer Samuel Bhattacharya, one of two guitarists in the Texas alternative rock band Flyleaf.

Business & Industry

– Sabeer Bhatia, co-founder of Hotmail
– Kim Singh, CEO Porta Enterprise, was awarded Entrepreneur of the Year. Former senior executive at IBM, Ernst & Young and Unisys
– Amar Bose, physicist and founder of Bose Corporation
– Vinod Dham, former microprocessor boss for Intel and creator of the Pentium processor
– Rono Dutta, former President, United Airlines; Chairman, Air Sahara
– Rakesh Gangwal, former CEO and Chairman, US Airways Group
– Rajat Gupta, former Managing Director, McKinsey & Company
– Rajiv Gupta, a General Manager of Hewlett Packard
– Ajit Jain, head of National Indemnity, possible successor to Warren Buffett
– Sanjay Jejurikar, a Director of Windows division, Microsoft
– Vinod Khosla, general partner, venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers; co-founder, Sun Microsystems
– Hansraj C. Maru, former CTO of Fuel Cell Energy
– Indra Nooyi, President and CFO of PepsiCo
– Kanwal Rekhi, businessman and engineer, Former EVP & CTO of Novell, Venture capitalist
– Suhas Patil, founder, Cirrus Logic
– Arun Sarin, CEO of Vodafone, the largest mobile phone company in Europe
– Sanjiv Sidhu, founder and CEO of i2 Technologies, a B2B Supply Chain integrator
– Pradeep Sindhu, Co-founder and CTO of Juniper Networks
– Rana Talwar, banker, former Group CEO of Standard Chartered Bank

Literature & Media

– Agha Shahid Ali, poet
– Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, author
– Deepak Chopra, author and speaker
– Sumi Das, CNN national correspondent
– Dinesh D’Souza, author and conservative political commentator
– Sanjay Gupta, CNN senior medical correspondent
– Pico Iyer, author and journalist for Time Magazine, Harper’s Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, and The New York Review of Books
– Jhumpa Lahiri – writer, Pulitzer Prize winner
– Dhan Gopal Mukerji – the first successful Indian man of letters in US
– Bharati Mukherjee – author
– Aimee Nezhukumatathil – poet
– Uma Pemmaraju, News anchor for Fox News Channel
– Ramesh Ponnuru, senior editor of National Review magazine
– Vikram Seth, poet and novelist. Also a travel writer, librettist, children’s writer, biographer and memoirist
– Shauna Singh Baldwin, novelist, won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book
– Ali Velshi, business news anchor for CNN
– Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek
– Chitra Raghavan, chief legal affairs correspondent for U.S. News and World Report, former NPR Correspondent
– Snigdha Prakash, NPR Correspondent
– Rajiv Chandrasekaran, assistant managing editor at the Washington Post


– Kumar P. Barve, state legislator (Majority Leader, Maryland House of Delegates).
– Upendra Chivukula, state legislator (New Jersey General Assembly); first Indian-American elected to the NJ legislature.
– Kamala Harris, District Attorney of San Francisco; first Indian-American elected as a D.A. in the United States.
– Bobby Jindal, U.S. Congressman from Louisiana; former gubernatorial candidate; Republican.
– Raj Mukherji, New Jersey lobbyist and businessman.
– Vij Pawar, New Jersey attorney and former congressional candidate.
– Ramesh Ponnuru, senior editor for National Review magazine.
– Dalip Singh Saund, first Indian-American congressman.
– Kim Singh, Executive Director, Asian American Public Policy Institute.
– Shashi Tharoor, Undersecretary General for Communications and Public Information for the United Nations.


– Mohini Bhardwaj, first Indian American Olympic medalist, gymnastics
– Brandon Chillar, professional American football player


– Kalpana Chawla, NASA astronaut (perished in the 2003 Columbia disaster)
– Neal Katyal, lawyer, Professor of Law at Georgetown University, lead counsel in the Supreme Court case Hamdan v. Rumsfeld on Guantanamo military actions
– Kavita Ramdas, President and CEO of Global Fund for Women.
– Bhagat Singh Thind, civil rights figure, lecturer, author
– Urvashi Vaid, famous gay rights activist

However, though these luminaries are a celebrated lot, highly revered, and respected all over the United States, it is a pity that their fame has not traveled in the same manner to their land of origin – India, with the exception of a few. Indians, residing at India, must know and appreciate the achievement of their counterparts in foreign soil, esp. in countries like USA and UK, where the Indian community has worked very hard to attain the position where they are now today. From powerless, to power-brokers to powers-in-themselves, Indians have truly arrived all over the globe.

Subsequent series of this article will aim to bring to limelight such Non-resident Indians of eminent status who have shone in their respective fields in their adopted country and have, ultimately, made their motherland proud!!

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