Newsmakers 2021: With the first half of 2021 passed, even as the COVID-19 pandemic, pulsated by the second wave that gained momentum in mid-February, impacted the lives and livelihood of millions of people, including several big time and small businesses, there were a few Indian personalities who made it to the newsroom and created a buzz, leaving a lasting sway and imprint on the psyche of the demography and polity of India, and the world in general as the newsmakers.
Newsmakers 2021: People Who Made News
Let us take a look at the Indian newsmakers who made to the Newsmakers 2021 list and created a buzz in the first half of the year.
Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of Serum Institute of India (SII) - the world's largest vaccine manufacturer, at the onset of 2021 was in news concerning the production of COVID-19 vaccine Covishield - the AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine manufactured in India, and announcing its accessibility to healthcare workers, elderly citizens and to public in general. Poonawalla continues his earnest efforts in increasing the vaccine production from 70 million in March to 90 million in June at SII, besides assuring of getting clearance from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for Covishield.
All-Women Cockpit Crew
Air India's All-Women Cockpit Crew of AI176 - Capt Zoya Aggarwal, Capt Papagari Thanmai, Capt Akansha Sonaware and Capt Shivani Manhas completed a historical journey over North Pole on the world's longest air route from San Francisco to Bengaluru on January 9, 2021. The All-Women Crew flew the 1st non-stop inaugural flight over the North Pole covering about 16,000 kms.
India's star sprinter Hima Das on February 26, 2021, officially inducted as Deputy Superintendent of Police, Assam. Hima Das, a 21-year-old Indian sprinter who is also known as 'Dhing Express' is the first Indian woman to win a gold medal at IAAF World Under-20 Championships. She clocked a speed of 51.46 seconds.
In the first week of February, Bhavya Lal an Indian-American scientist who oversaw NASA's transition under President Joe Biden's administration, was appointed as the Acting Chief of Staff of the U.S. space agency - NASA for the first 100 days. Before that, she served as a member of the Biden Presidential Transition Agency Review Teams for both NASA and the Department of Defense. Bhavya Lal serves as the senior advisor to the NASA Administrator for budget and finance.
India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin became the first spinner in over 100 years of Test cricket to earn the distinction of dismissing a batsman off the very first ball of an innings. The first spinner to achieve the feat was Yorkshire left-arm spinner, Bobby Peel, during an Ashes Test match in 1888.
Dr. Swati Mohan
Dr. Swati Mohan, as Indian American Aerospace Engineer with NASA made it to the newsroom in the third week of February 2021 for successfully landing NASA's Perseverance Rover on Mars. She acted as the Guidance, Navigation and Control lead for NASA Mars Rover. Dr. Swati also provided much of the commentary from mission control during its tense entry, descent and landing.
Indian wrestler Bajrang Punia bagged his second successive gold medal at the Matteo Pallicone ranking series event in Rome defeating Mongolia's Tulga Tumur Ochir 2-2 by criteria in the 65kg freestyle gold medal match. With the win, Bajrang gained the world No. 1 ranking in the 65kg category.
Veteran Tamil and Indian actor Rajinikanth was honoured with the 51st Dadasaheb Phalke Award for 2020 - India's highest film honour for his outstanding contribution to the Indian cinema at the 67th National Film Awards.
Indian Heavyweight Boxer Havildar Sanjeet Kumar of The 14th Battalion, Brigade of The Guards, Indian Army won Gold at the Asian Elite Boxing Championships held in Dubai in May defeating Kazakhstan's RIO Olympic-silver medalist & 5-time Asian Championship winner Vassiliy Levit in the 91 kg category.
The noted environmentalist Sundarlal Bahuguna, a 94-year-old activist breathed his last on May 21, 2021, who not only fought for the environment, but also for human rights. He was a renowned environmentalist who led the movement against deforestation five decades ago.
H S Doreswamy
H S Doreswamy - a veteran freedom fighter and social activist from Karnataka passed away in Bengaluru on May 26, 2021 following a cardiac arrest at the age of 103. The centenarian activist was at the forefront of several agitations and was one of the few from the state who actively took part in the Indian freedom struggle and remained active until recently lending weight to several rights-based movements in the state.
Milkha Singh, popularly known as 'The Flying Sikh,' was one of India's finest track and field sprinters. He breathed his last on 18 June 2021 at the age of 91 due to post-Covid complications. Milkha Singh won the 1958 Tokyo Asian Games Gold and Common Wealth Games Gold 200-meter and 400-meter track races. He was awarded with the Padma Shri in 1959. He hung up his boots in 1964
Dilip Kumar, one of Indian cinema's greatest actors breathed his last on July 7 at the age of 98. The legendary actor was often referred to as the 'Tragedy King.' He was described as the greatest method actor by Satyajit Ray. Dilip Kumar was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in December 2015 and Padma Bhushan in 1991. He received the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1994.
Aishwarya Sheoran, former Miss India finalist and model Aishwarya Sheoron gave up her modeling career for UPSC exam. She cracked the Civil Services exam in the first attempt securing 93rd rank in the UPSC Civil Service Exam 2019. She was the finalist of Clean and Clear Face Fresh held in 2014 and Femina Miss India in 2016.
17-years-old Indian-origin American tennis prodigy Samir Banerjee won the Wimbledon boys' singles title on July 11 defeating Victor Lilov in an all-American final. Samir's father, Kunal, was born in Assam, and his mother was raised in Andhra Pradesh before migrating to the United States in the mid-1980s.
Prerna Wadikar, a student from Bengaluru, has been awarded the Vice Chancellor's Social Impact Award 2021 at the University of Oxford in recognition of her efforts making portable energy more affordable through a technological model using a lithium-ion battery. The model developed by Wadikar is believed to be less than 500 grams with a potential to generate power to run a small refrigerator.