Before bidding goodbye to 2007, here is a list of top 10 NRI newsmakers – the achievers and those who suffered.

The selection is subjective, based on news value and the degree of interest and concern to NRIs.

1. Sunita Williams: As a woman and an NRI, she made everyone proud with her new record for the longest uninterrupted space flight by a woman in June. “Planet Earth looks beautiful from space. There are no borders on the Earth,” she said, recounting her space experience of 195-days aboard the space shuttle Discovery. The Shuttle’s re-entry held everyone on edge but its smooth landing made history. Reminding Indians about the late Kalpana Chawla, Sunita visited India in September and made news wherever she went.

2. Bobby Jindal: In October, the 36-year-old Jindal became the youngest US governor of a state in the US and the first chief executive of any state who is of Indian-American descent. He won convincingly against heavy odds by over 50 per cent of the primary votes against a field of 12 candidates. Now, can an NRI in the US dream of the White House?

3. Sir Salman Rushdie: In June, the Queen knighted him for his services to English literature. Rushdie went into hiding and was in police protection in 1989 under threat of death after an Iranian fatwa as his book The Satanic Verses offended Muslims worldwide and a bounty was placed on his head. He returned to public life in 1999 and has remained a secularist. This year, he was separated from his wife, the model Padma Lakshmi. (more…)



(22 December 1887 – 26 April 1920) 

Srinivasa Ramanujan was born in a poor Tamil Brahmin family that resided in the town of Kumbakonam. He attended school there and did averagely well. While in school he came across a book entitled “A synopsis of elementary results in Pure and Applied Mathematics” by George Carr. This book is just a compendium of results on integrals, infinite series and other mathematical entities found in analysis. Yet it left a lasting impression on Ramanujan; in fact it virtually determined his mathematical style. He would later write mathematics as a string of results without proof or with the barest outline of a proof.   

After school Ramanujan was hooked on mathematics. He spent all his time with his head over a slate working with problems in number theory that interested him and neglected everything else. The result was that he could never get through another examination. An early marriage as was usual at those times led to a frantic search for a job to earn an income. He became a clerk in the Madras Port Trust with the help of some well wishers. 

In the meantime Ramanujan kept showing his results to various people who he thought would be interested or would help him get a job that would give him a lot of time to do mathematics. He wrote to a couple of well known British mathematicians giving a list of some of the results he had obtained. They ignored him – thought he was a crank! Finally he wrote to one of the most distinguished English mathematicians of the time – a person who had done a lot of work on number theory – G H Hardy. Hardy arranged for Ramanujan to come to Trinity College, Cambridge where he and Ramanujan met almost daily discussing mathematics for about three years. Ramanujan died shortly after at the age of 33.

Ramanujan made substantial contributions to the analytical theory of numbers and worked on elliptic functions, continued fractions, and infinite series and is well known for his Taxi Cab problem.

All interested people are referred to The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan by Robert Kanigel.

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