This year has been tough for most of us especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even more disheartening was the departure of some remarkable souls.
This year, we lost some eminent personalities, whose contribution in their own fields have been very valuable for the world. However, their legacy shall continue to heal and will be in the hearts of the people forever.
Here’s looking at some of these legendary souls.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Popularly known as RBG, she was the second woman ever to be appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States, after Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. In September, she lost her battle against Cancer, and died at her home in Washington, at the age of 87.
She was the architect of the legal fight for women's rights in the 1970s. Ginsburg subsequently served 27 years on the nation's highest court, becoming its most prominent member.
A champion for minority rights and women’s rights, she was regarded as the leader of the liberal wing at the Supreme Court. It was then-President Bill Clinton who nominated her to the Supreme Court for the first time, in 1993.
Celebrated Bollywood choreographer and three-time National Award winner Saroj Khan passed away in Mumbai on July 3, following a cardiac arrest. She was 71.
Fondly called as masterji, Saroj Khan has choreographed nearly 2,000 songs in a career spanning 40 years. Her first breakthrough as an independent choreographer came with Geeta Mera Naam (1974). She tasted fame with the song Hawa Hawai from Mr. India (1987) and with further collaborations were with actors Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit.
The veteran choreographed songs like “Ek Do Teen”, “Hum Ko Aaj Kal Hai Intezaar”, “Dhak Dhak Karne Laga”, “Choli Ke Peeche Kya Hai”, and “Tamma Tamma” among others.
Dr S Padmavati
Dr S Padmavati, an eminent cardiologist, also the first female cardiologist of India, popularly known as 'God Mother of Cardiology' passed away on August 29 due to COVID-19 infection.
Born in Burma in 1917, she was a year old when the world battled the Spanish flu in 1918. An MBBS graduate from Rangoon Medical College, she pursued further studies in countries like the UK, Sweden. On her return to India, she joined as the faculty at the Lady Hardinge Medical College in Delhi in 1953, and then opened a cardiology clinic a year later.
In 1962, Dr Padmavati founded the All India Heart Foundation and went on to set up National Heart Institute in 1981 as a tertiary care modern heart hospital in Delhi with the first cardiac catheterisation laboratory in the private sector in the Southern Hemisphere. The veteran was awarded the Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan in 1967 and 1992, respectively.
Isher Judge Ahluwalia
Renowned economist Isher Judge Ahluwalia was known for leading the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) as its Chairman for about 15 years to become one of the finest economic think tanks in India. She passed away in September after a 10-month-long battle with brain cancer.
She completed her PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), master’s from the Delhi School of Economics, and bachelor’s in economics from Presidency College, Kolkata.
A Padma Bhushan Awardee, her memoir titled Breaking Through, which was written while fighting brain cancer, gives an insight into her personal and professional life. She has also authored several books on economy including Industrial Growth in India: Stagnation since the Mid-Sixties and Productivity and Growth in Indian Manufacturing.
Costume designer Bhanu Athaiya who was India's first Oscar winner passed away in Mumbai on October 15 at the age of 91. She was diagnosed with brain tumour eight years ago and was bedridden after suffering a paralysis three years ago.
Kolhapur-born Athaiya, who worked till just five years ago, began her career as a costume designer in Hindi cinema with Guru Dutt's 1956 superhit "C.I.D.", and went on to work in over 100 films.
She then got India its first Oscar award for her work in Gandhi (1983). Her other films include Pyaasa, Chaudhvin Ka Chand, Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, Mera Naam Joker, Razia Sultan, Chandni, Lekin, 1942: A Love Story, and Lagaan.
Veteran Marathi film and theatre actress Ashalata Wabgaonkar passed away on September 22.. She had contracted COVID-19 during the shooting of a new mythological show, Aai Mazi Kalubai. Among the 22 crew members who tested positive for the virus, Wabgaonkar was the only one who was said to be critical.
Originally from Goa, Wabgaonkar began her journey as an actress with Konkani and Marathi plays. She acted in over 100 Hindi and Marathi films like Zanjeer, Aahista Aahista, Shaukeen, Apne Paraye, Woh Saat Din, Umbharta, Sutradhar, and Vahinichi Maya among several others.
She was also trained in classical music and was a known Marathi Natya Sangeet singer. Ashalata also wrote the book Gard Sabhowati, which depicts the memories and her journey.
(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)