In the demise of these people, the nation lost its gems and the world, its stars. We will never be able thank these legends enough for their efforts, achievements and accomplishments. May these wonderful souls rest in peace.
- Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam (15 October 1931 – 27 July 2015)
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Fondly known as the People’s President, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam left for the heavenly abode on 27th July doing what he loved the most – he suffered a cardiac arrest while interacting with the students of IIM-Shillong on “Creating a Livable Planet Earth”. The 11th President of India (2002-2007), he received the Bharat Ratna for his contribution to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). He led the Pokhran-II nuclear tests, which made India a nuclear weapon country in 1998. In 1980, under his direction, ISRO injected the Rohini Satellite in the near Earth orbit, making India an exclusive member of the Space Club. India developed the AGNI and PRITHVI missiles under Dr. Kalam’s guidance making him ‘the Missile Man of India’. He loved interacting with students and firmly believed in the power of education.
- Rasipuram Krishnaswamy Iyer Laxman (24 October 1921 – 26 January 2015)
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Famous among the masses for his satiric and relatable cartoon strip “You Said It” in the Times of India, cartoonist R. K. Laxman breathed his last on January 26 in Pune. The protagonist in his cartoons, The Common Man, symbolised the common man’s desires, hopes and problems, for over five decades. RK Laxman started his career as a cartoonist, working with local newspapers and magazines. He also illustrated the stories of his elder brother, RK Narayan for The Hindu. For his work, he was honoured with Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1984. He was also awarded the Padma Bhushan 1973 and Padma Vibhushan in 2005.
- Nek Chand (15 December 1924 – 12 June 2015)
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Nek Chand is well known for his vision to create the Rock Garden in Chandigarh, using waste material including broken glasses, mastic, crockery and iron-foundry slag. The garden has plentiful pottery covered concrete sculptures of animals, musicians and dancers. Today, this visionary’s statues can be found in museums across the world, with the largest collection of his works after Chandigarh in the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in USA. He was awarded the Padma Shri by the Indian Government in 1984, for all the dedication and sincerity he showed to his art. He breathed his last on 12 June, after he suffered a cardiac arrest.
- Chitresh Das (9 November 1944 – 4 January 2015)
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Chitresh Das was an Indian dancer, instructor and choreographer who took Kathak to the US and is well known for establishing the dance form amongst the Indians living in the US. In the year 2009, he was awarded the National Heritage Fellowship, which is the highest honour for a traditional artist to receive from the US Government. This award was conferred to him by the US President Barack Obama at a special ceremony held for this occasion. He is well-known for contribution to development of “Kathak Yoga” which involves the performer dancing, singing and playing an instrument simulatenously. Renowned for his youthful energy, his death came as a shock to many of his disciples. He died of aortic dissection, which is often associated with hypertension.
- Daggubati Ramanaidu (6 June 1936 – 18 February 2015)
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Daggubati Ramanaidu, a man of few words, registered his name in the Guiness Book of World Records for individually producing the most number of films. He produced over 150 films in 13 Indian languages, and for his contribution to cinema, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan (2013) and was the Dada Saheb Phalke Award (2009) amongst numerous National Awards and Filmfare Awards over the years. He also served as a member of parliament in from 1999 to 2004. Mr. Ramanaidu was also bestowed with an honorary doctorate degree from Sri Venkateswara College, Tirupati for his accomplishments in cinema. Reportedly, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in January, 2014.
- Narayan Desai (24 December 1924 – 15 March 2015)
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Son of Mahadev Desai, personal secretary and biographer of Mahatama Gandhi, Narayan Desai had roots deep within to serve the Nation. Since his youth he followed and strengthened the Bhoodan Movement started by Vinoba Bhave, which is a land-gift movement to needy people from the rich people. He took forward talks of peace by being an active member of Akhil Bharatiya Shanti Sena Mandal (Indian Peace Brigade). He went on to become its general secretary and was responsible for setting the Peace Brigades International. Mr. Desai received UNESCO prize for International Peace in 1998. He slipped into coma on 10 December, 2014 but later recovered. He breathed his last on 15th March in Surat.
- Krishna Kalle (Died when she was 74 year’s old on 15 March 2015)
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Krishna Kalle was a playback singer who started her career as a singer at the Kanpur Radio Station at the age of 16. She won National level youth singing award from India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and President Dr. Rajendra Prasad in 1957. Ms. Kalle bagged numerous awards in her lifetime, and the most prestigious amongst them was Lata Mangeshkar Jeevan Gaurav Puraskar which she was awarded by the Maharashtra government. In her lifetime she sang over 200 Bollywood songs, 100 Marathi films songs, 100 devotional songs, and 2 Kannada film songs. Some of her non-film albums were also released with legendary singers, Manna Dey and Mohammad Rafi.
- Brijmohan Lall Munjal (1 July 1923 – 1 November 2015)
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Brijmohan Lall Munjal was the founder and chairman of Hero Motocorp, and amongst the top 30 richest Indians. Under his able guidance, Hero Cycles became the first company to export bicycles on a large scale. In 1975, it became the largest manufacturer of bicycle in India. In 1986, Hero Cycles registered its name in the Guiness Book of Records as the largest manufacturers of bicycles in the whole world. Mr. Munjal was honoured with the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in 2005. He received many other awards during his life, and in 2011 alone, he received the Lifetime Achievement Awards from TERI, Ernst & Young, All India Management Association, IIT- Kharagpur and for the Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship. He died of a heart attack in November.
- Jagmohan Dalmiya (30 May 1940 – 20 September 2015)
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Jagmohan Dalmiya is regarded as the man responsible for commercialising cricket and making BCCI the richest board in the world. He joined the BCCI as a member of Cricket Association of Bengal in 1979. Mr. Dalmiya was responsible for raising the proposal to host the 1987 Cricket World Cup in India, which received great opposition from England which had hosted all the world cups till then. But his voice did show the result when the final of the Cricket World Cup in 1987 was played at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. He went on to become the President of the ICC, and was elected the President of BCCI, for the first time in the year 2001. He died of gastrointestinal bleeding and organ failure in September. After his death, Dalmiya’s eyes were donated to an eye bank in Kolkata.
- Goparaju Ramachandra Lavanam(10 October 1930 – 14 August 2015)
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Popularly known as Lavanam, this social reformer, atheist leader and Gandhian scholar died of cardiac arrest in August. Lavanam firmly believed and worked relentlessly for spread of positive atheism and Gandhian humanism all his life. At a tender age of 12, he left school and joined his father, also a freedom fighter, in the freedom struggle. He co-founded the Samskar institution with his wife Hemalatha Lavanam, through which they both worked to reform the Jogini system (devadasi) prevalent in the state of Andhra Pradesh. He won many accolades for his contribution to the cause of human rights such as Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Service Society in 2011 and the International Humanist Award from Probe Resource Center in Hyderabad in 2015.
- Gopishantha a.k.a. Manorama (1937 – 10 October 2015)
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This legendary Tamil actress has acted in over 1,500 films, 500 stage plays and several TV series in her career spanning over six decades. She entered the Guinness World Records for acting in more than 1000 number of films in 1985. Manorama also holds the unique distinction of having been in plays and films with five chief ministers. Affectionately called Aachi, she started her acting career at a young age of 12 as a stage artist. She was awarded the Padma Shri in 2002 and also won the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actress for ‘Pudhiya Pathai’ in 1989. The versatile actress passed away in October due to heart attack. The news of her death brought tremendous grief to the state of Tamil Nadu and the whole nation.
- Dr. Natesan Ramani (15 October 1934 – 9 October 2015)
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Ramani, or as he was often called, N. Flute Ramani, was a renowned Carnatic flautist. He is credited for introducing the long flute into Carnatic music. Ramani performed his very first concert at the tender age of 8. His international fame is apparent from the fact that he has made more than 30 concert tours outside of India. The long list of his accolades includes the Sangeetha Acharya award from Wasser College, US, the honorary citizenship status in Ohio, US, and the Padma Shri Award. He also holds an honorary Cultural Doctorate from The World University of Arizona. He died on 9 October owing to throat cancer, just a week before his 81st birthday.
- Saeed Jaffrey (8 January 1929 – 15 November 2015)
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This charismatic India-born British actor died at a hospital in London on 15 November, after collapsing from a brain haemorrhage at his home. Saeed Jaffrey was one of the few actors who found success in both India and the West. In India, he was known for portrayals of naughty uncles and rich fathers in classic films like The Chess Players, Masoom, Henna and Dil. Meanwhile, there were roles in colonial dramas like The Jewel in the Crown, Gandhi and The Far Pavilions, plus the pioneering British Indian sitcom Tandoori Nights, among others. He went on to become the first Indian actor to tour Shakespeare around the US and to star on Broadway. He was the first Asian to receive British and Canadian film award nominations. In 1995 he was awarded an Order of British Empire in recognition of his services to drama, the first Asian to receive this honour.
- Nirmala Joshi (23 July 1934 – 23 June 2015)
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Sister Nirmala succeeded Mother Teresa as the Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity in 1997 and served for 12 years in that post. Nirmala expanded the organisation’s reach to 134 countries by opening centres in nations such as Afghanistan, Israel and Thailand. She passed away in Kolkata owing to a heart ailment. Many leaders expressed their condolences including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee She was one of the first nuns to be sent on a foreign mission by Mother Teresa. The government of India bestowed the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award, on Sister Joshi on Republic Day in 2009 for her services to the nation.
- Gulam Kaderbhoy Noon, Baron Noon (24 January 1936 – 27 October 2015)
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Gulam Noon was a Mumbai-born British businessman who built a fast food empire in London manufacturing supermarket curries, thus earning the title of ‘Curry King’. Noon founded and operated a number of food product companies in London, specialising in Indian cuisine. Noon is credited with the popularity of one of India’s most popular dish chicken tikka masala in Britain. Noon was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in the 1996 and a Knight Bachelor in the 2002. In 2012, he was made a Fellow of Birkbeck, a constituent college of the University of London.
- Sadhana Shivdasani(2 September 1941 – 25 December 2015)
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The veteran Bollywood actress, better known as Sadhana, passed away in December after a long battle with cancer. She was one of the top actresses of the golden era of Bollywood i.e. the 1960s and 1970s. She became famous as Mystery Girl with her suspense thriller films – Woh Kaun Thi? (1964), Mera Saaya (1966) and Anita (1967). Her performance on the song “jhumka gira re” from Mera Saaya made her a favourite of the masses and it became one of the most requested songs on radio. Her iconic fringe haircut became widely popular with the youth and till date is known as the “Sadhana cut”. Her performances in blockbusters Woh Kaun Thi? (1964) and Waqt (1965) got her Filmfare nominations for Best Actress award.