Inspiring Indian Personalities Who Studied Abroad


Mrunmayai Bobade
Updated on Jun 09, 2023 11:04 PM IST

Are you aware of which Indian personalities attended top-notch universities abroad? Well, the impact of a global education goes far beyond academics. Indian students can reap multiple benefits from studying abroad.

Inspiring Indian Personalities Who Studied Abroad

India has given us plenty of reasons to be proud of this brave nation and its ever inspiring idols. Ranging from its emotional depths, sacred places, and diversified diversity, to the art of bargaining with a smile on face, makes it all irresistible for us not to fall in love with our motherland.

The picturesque country is renowned as an abode of talent. Its unsurpassed creativity and intelligence have left us speechless. With inventions such as 'zero' and discoveries like 'water on the moon', India has surely made a mark on the world through its ingenuity. However, this couldnt have been accomplished without first-rate education.

As we know, a degree doesnt define anyone or neither does it guarantee success but investment in education pays the best interest, and it's the vehicle for civilization to spread. The thrust of learning has forced many Indians like Dr Anandibai Joshi (first female physician of India), Jawaharlal Nehru, and Mahatma Gandhi to cross the seas.

At the beginning of the colonial era, the British sent bright Indians to Britain to study so they could form a corps of officials who would help them govern the "ungovernable" Indian empire. Following the British Revolution, students continued to attend the UK; however, they also learned there were educational opportunities in the US and Europe.

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It is not a new trend for Indian students to study abroad, although there is a lot of press about it these days. Hundreds of thousands of students board flights today not just to America and Europe, but also to New Zealand, Canada, Australia, and even to Asian countries.

Several great Indians who achieved their academic goals at globally recognized universities abroad have transformed the country with their ideas and innovations. A good university can do wonders for one's personal and professional development.

Are you aware of which Indian personalities attended top-notch universities abroad? Well, we're here with a fun quiz so you can test your knowledge! Here we go!

Also Read: Top 6 Master's Degree Program for Indian Students to Study Overseas

Famous Indian Personalities in Research/Academics

N. R. Rao (b. 1934): Dr C. N. R. Rao, who has been conferred the Bharat Ratna and the National Research Scientist status, is the Honorary President of the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore. Solid-state and structural chemistry have been his main areas of research. In 1958, he graduated from Purdue University with a PhD and has been granted honorary degrees by several foreign universities. A doctoral degree has been awarded to him by 83 universities around the world. He has also published over 1,770 research articles and 53 books.

Romila Thapar (b. 1931): Dr Romila Thapar, an emeritus professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University and author of A History of India, is a renowned historian. The University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies is where she received her PhD.

Popular Indian Businessmen

Ratan Tata (b. 1937): Over the course of his 21-year tenure at the helm of affairs at Tata Sons, Ratan Tata saw the group's profit increase over fifty times, making it the largest business organization in the country. At Cornell University, Tata earned a Bachelor of Science in Architecture in 1962, and from Harvard Business School he completed an Advanced Management Program in 1975.

Anil Ambani (b. 1959): Chairman of Reliance ADA Group, Anil Ambani oversees Reliance Capital, Reliance Power, and Reliance Infrastructure. In addition to owning 44 FM stations, multiplexes, animation studios, and a DTH service nationwide, he has a considerable stake in the entertainment business. A Wharton graduate, he received his MBA from the University of Pennsylvania.

Adi Godrej (b. 1942): He studied at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Adi Godrej is chairman of the Godrej Group and chairman of the Indian School of Business. The Godrej Group was restructured after he returned to India, which helped the group reach great heights during the license raj.

Rahul Bajaj (b. 1938): Chairman Rahul Bajaj oversaw the Bajaj conglomerate's rise to great heights during the 1970s despite the permit dispensation. A Harvard Business School graduate, he led the conglomerate to great success. In 2001, he was awarded the third-highest civilian honour, Padma Bhushan.

A few other business legends with foreign degrees include:

  • Azim Premji (chairman of Wipro; engineering degree from Stanford University).

  • Anand Mahindra (MBA, Harvard Business School; Chairman, Mahindra Group).

  • Kumar Mangalam Birla (Chairman of the Aditya Birla Group; MBA from London Business School).

Also Read: Students from India are Eligible to Apply for these 10 Foreign Scholarships

Inspiring Indian Artists

Parineeti Chopra (b. 1988): Despite being well-known throughout the world as a Bollywood actress, Parineeti Chopra holds degrees in Business, Finance, and Economics from the Manchester Business School.

Girish Karnad (b. 1938): The award-winning Kannada writer, film director, and actor, Girish Karnad, has written several critically acclaimed plays and films including the Jnanpith prize in 1998. Kannada is his "adopted language." (Konkani is his mother tongue). Oxford University awarded him a Rhodes Scholarship for his Political Science, MA in Philosophy, and Economics.

Ameesha Patel (b. 1975): Ameesha Patel, an Indian film actor from Hindi and Telugu movies, graduated with a gold medal from Tufts University, Massachusetts.

A few others with a foreign degree in Arts include:

  • Dulquer Salmaan (Malayalam- and Tamil-language actor; Purdue University BBA).

  • Soha Ali Khan (Bengali, English, and Hindi film actor; Master's degree in International Relations, London School of Economics).

  • Randeep Hooda (Hindi film actor; University of Melbourne, Bachelor of Marketing, Masters of Business Management).

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Indian Politicians who Studied Abroad

Shashi Tharoor (b. 1956): A Congress MP, Shashi Tharoor is one of the most articulate politicians in India. A UN official by profession, Tharoor served as UN Under-Secretary-General for Communications from 2001 until 2006, when he unsuccessfully ran for the post of UN Secretary-General. The Tufts Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy awarded him an MA (Master of Arts in Law and diplomacy), MALD (Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy), and PhD.

Dr Manmohan Singh (b. 1932): An Indian economist, politician, and academic, Manmohan Singh held the position of Prime Minister of India from 2004 to 2014. The University of Cambridge, UK, awarded him a degree in Economics and the University of Oxford granted him a D.Phil.

Najma Heptullah (b. 1940): For 16 years, the former Congress leader, now a BJP leader, served as the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. Heptullah holds a PhD in cardiac anatomy from Denver University of Colorado before she became Minister for Minority Affairs in the Union Government.

Kapil Sibal (b. 1948): During his time in Congress, Kapil Sibal served in the departments of Science and Technology, HRD, IT and Communications, and Law and Justice. Sibal holds an LL.M. at Harvard Law School.

A few other politicians with foreign degrees include:

  • Jairam Ramesh (Former Union Minister; earned a Masters in Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania).

  • P. Chidambaram (Congress leader, former Union Finance Minister; MBA, Harvard Business School).

  • Naveen Jindal (MBA, University of Texas; former MP from Haryana).

  • Jyotiraditya Scindia (Madhya Pradesh MP; Harvard Economics graduate; Stanford Graduate School of Business MBA).

  • Subramanyam Swamy (Democratic Party, former Union Minister; PhD from Harvard University).

  • Sachin Pilot (former member of the Rajasthan state legislature; MBA, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania).

  • Agatha Sangma (Meghalayan Congress MP, Master's in Environmental Management from Nottingham University, UK).

Renowned Personalities ofIndian Media

Vir Sanghvi (b. 1956): Vir Sanghvi is an Indian journalist, author, and food critic who was appointed to lead Bombay magazine as the youngest editor in the magazine's history. At the age of 30, he became Sunday's Editor. Additionally, he served as Editor of the Hindustan Times. The co-host of several TV shows studied Philosophy, Economics, and Politics at Brasenose College, Oxford.

Madhu Trehan: The founding editor of India Today as well as the co-founder of Newslaundry, Madhu Trehan holds a Master's degree in Journalism from Columbia University, New York.

Arnab Goswami (b. 1973): Probably the most satirized Indian TV anchor is Arab Goswami. St. Antony's College at Oxford University awarded him a Master's degree in Social Anthropology.

Arun Shourie (b. 1941):When Indira Gandhi declared the Emergency in 1975, Arun Shourie was the media's greatest fighter. In the Vajpayee government, he served as IT and Communications Minister. At Syracuse University, he earned a PhD in economics.

A few other Media starts with foreign degrees include:

  • Barkha Dutt (NDTV Consulting Editor; Columbia University Master's in Journalism).

  • Karan Thapar (Television commentator for India Today TV; Pembroke College, University of Cambridge; Economics and Political Philosophy graduate).

  • Rajdeep Sardesai (Consulting Editor at India Today Group; B.A., M.A., and B.C.L., Oxford University).

Others Inspiring Indian Idols Who Studied Abroad

Some of the other admired Indians who hold higher degrees fromabroad include:

  • Satya Nadella: CEO of Microsoft and a Master of Science in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and an MBA from the Booth School of Business.

  • Venkatraman Ramakrishnan: Laureate of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2009; PhD in Physics, Ohio University; graduate of California University.

  • Amartya Sen: Awardee of Nobel Prize in Economics; BA, MA, and PhD from Trinity College, Cambridge University.

  • Sabeer Bhatia: Founded Hotmail, received a BS from Caltech and an MS in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University.

  • Vinod Khosla: co-founder of Sun Microsystems; MBA graduate from Carnegie Mellon and Stanford Universities.

  • Sundar Pichai: This man doesnt need an introduction. Google's CEO holds an MS in Material Sciences and Engineering from Stanford and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

  • Rohinton Mistry: A writer of international repute; BA in English and Philosophy from Toronto University.

  • Mira Nair: A New York City-based Indian-American filmmaker. She produces films for international audiences focused on Indian society in its economic, social, or cultural dimensions through her production company, Mirabai Films. Academically qualified in Sociology, Harvard University graduate.

Also Read: Complete List of World's Top 100 Universities for 2022

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Who was the first Indian to study abroad?

Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi was the first female Indian doctor of Western medicine, as well as the first Indian to study in the United States. She was the first woman from India's former Bombay presidency to study and get a two-year degree in Western medicine in the United States. 

What is the alma mater of Dr B. R. Ambedkar?

He was well known as Babasaheb and graduated from Columbia University as well as the London School of Economics. In 1921, he received his master's degree from LSE, and in 1923, he received his doctorate. He held four doctoral degrees in addition to two master's degrees and a Bar-at-Law, and he spoke numerous European languages (including Sanskrit). He also authored the Pali language dictionary and was the first South Asian to be awarded a PhD in Economics.

Where are most Indian students studying abroad?

The Ministry of External Affairs notified Rajya Sabha last month that Indians are now studying in over 240 nations around the world. The United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, and Canada remain the top choices, but students are also contemplating Uzbekistan, the Philippines, Russia, Ireland, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan.

Which Indian celebrities have studied abroad?

Before commencing their quest to become actors, several of our favourite Bollywood celebs have studied at prestigious academic institutions abroad. These include actors like Parineeti Chopra, Priyanka Chopra, Soha Ali Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Sara Ali Khan, Imran Khan, Abhishek Bachchan, Randeep Hooda, Shruti Hassan, Tushar Kapoor, Janhvi Kapoor and many more. 

What is the alma mater of Shashi Tharoor?

Shashi Tharoor is a renowned Indian diplomat and politician who joined the Indian government after a long career in the foreign diplomatic corps. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Delhi in New Delhi and a PhD from Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Medford, Massachusetts when he was 22 years old. Tharoor was the youngest person ever to get a PhD from the Fletcher School at the time.

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