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Lifetime Achievement: Mr Deepak Parekh, Chairman, HDFC Ltd

Deepak Parekh is a man with a mission. He may well be the man who has steered HDFC to the pinnacle of mortgage success in India and it becoming a conglomerate with presence in banking, asset management, life insurance, general insurance, real estate venture fund and education Loans. He along with his special team proved to be an effective crisis manager by prudently steering Satyam Computer Services — at the centre of the country’s largest-ever corporate crisis. About customer care, Deepak has a very interesting word – ‘affection’. This philosophy trickles all the way down to each of HDFC group employee dealing with a customer, the number of which stands at over 35 million today.

HDFC is the largest mortgage lender in India with 4.6 million middle-class families having availed housing loan. His commitment to serve India is apparent, as the group has desisted from opening any significant branch network abroad as ‘there is enough work to do in India’. The cornerstone of his philosophy is, if a company earns, it must also return to the society and companies owe a responsibility not just to shareholders but also to all its stakeholders. HDFC, under his guidance, supports several social initiatives in the areas of education, child welfare, medical, and welfare for the elderly and the differently abled among several others. Having built an institution, Deepak is humble, as he believes that during the first 25 years a person should learn, earn for the next 25 and return back to the society for the remaining years of his/her life.

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Economics: Lord Meghnad Desai, Economist

Lord Meghnad Desai's research over half-a-century has ranged from Marxian analysis and economic crisis; through applied econometrics, poverty and famine; the role of private markets and the state; human development; liberalisation and globalisation; and, Indian development and reform. He was instrumental in establishing the Centre for the Study of Global Governance in 1992 at London School of Economics and Political Science. His work, Rediscovery of India – as independent India has repeatedly attempted to rediscover itself – says the history of Indian nation-state begins in 1960, the rest of the past is prologue. He is one economist who challenges notions like Indian writing of Indian history is confined to Indian stories and that they very seldom look at the world at large and that there is a reluctance to admit the creative role played by the British.

For Desai, India’s diversity now needs to be celebrated as unity and cohesion, discouraging western academics to talk about the geographical break-up of the country. He lauds India’s commitment to the democratic process despite all odds.

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Urban Development: Mr Ramesh Ramanathan & Ms Swati Ramanathan, Janaagraha

It is rare to find an equally focused and zealous couple, committed to a common cause and scaling new heights together. Ramesh Ramanathan and Swati Ramanathan, a husband-wife duo, have been working for over a decade towards bringing about change in India's urban systems and for governance reforms. They have been instrumental in bringing in much needed public participation and involvement in Government of India's flagship programme – JNNURM. They initiated the Annual Survey of India's City-Systems, an objective measure of the state of our city systems, benchmarking them against some of the best cities in the world. Their efforts in launching an online initiative to register a voter online led to the cleansing of the electoral process by deleting bogus and superfluous names.

They together have been working towards improving the quality of spatial planning policies and design in India’s cities and towns are focused on using technologies to improve citizen participation in India's cities.

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Education: Prof Dinesh Singh, Vice-Chancellor, University of Delhi

The past few years have been trying for Dinesh Singh, Vice Chancellor of University of Delhi. He has singlehanded spearheaded unleashing of reforms – first time during the last 70 years - in the university system that has stirred many a hornet’s nests.  The new Four Year Undergraduate Programme is aimed at the overall development of personality, use of ICT in education and revamping the academic structural system of the teaching-learning process. It also equally well helps teachers in each of its constituent colleges who will get to frame and teach their own courses and supervise research according to their own academic strengths.

Dinesh, in another first, decided that all the 65,000 new student entrants during 2013-14, get a laptop free-of-cost. The university has also started a theme train ‘College on Wheels’ called ‘Gyanodaya Express’ with wi-fi connectivity on-board, which carries 1,000 students and about 100 teachers for a 10-day education trip in an effort to enhance the project-based learning-teaching process. The train is already doing trips exposing them to places of academic interest like Benaras Hindu University, rich culture of Punjab or naval base in South India. There has hardly been a more exciting time to be a college teacher in University of Delhi — or a college student.

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Governance: TCS Ltd

Waiting in long queues outside passport office, followed by hopping counters once inside, is passé. Online application, single-window service at a pre-appointed time is what has changed the entire experience of obtaining a passport.  Passport Seva Project is one of the largest Mission Mode Projects under the National e-Governance Plan. The project being executed by the Ministry of External Affairs in Public-Private-Partnership with Tata Consultancy Services as the Service Partner has successfully transformed the delivery of passport and related services in India. With 39 Passport Issuance Authorities, 77 state-of-the-art Passport Seva Kendras spread across 23 States and 63 cities, the project has expanded the reach of passport related services, ensured service delivery in a transparent manner along with greater security, reliability and within defined service levels. Clocking a citizen satisfaction of over 99.5 per cent, servicing 45,000 citizens daily, the system has processed over 15 million applications already. A 24x7 Call Centre handles close to 25,000 calls per day.