This is a list of famous and notable Bengali people, from West Bengal and North East India or Bangladesh, or people with Bengali ancestry or people who speak Bengali as their primary language.
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Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (Bengali: শেখ মুজিবুর রহমান; 17 March 1920 – 15 August 1975), shortened as Sheikh Mujib or just Mujib, was a Bengali politician and statesman. He served as the First President of Bangladesh and later Prime Minister of Bangladesh from March 1971 until his assassination in August 1975. He is considered to be the driving force behind the independence of Bangladesh. He is popularly known as Bangabandhu ("Friend of Bengal"). He became a leading figure in and eventually the leader of the Awami League, founded in 1949 as an East Pakistan-based political party in Pakistan. Mujib is credited as an important figure in efforts to gain politician autonomy for East Pakistan and later as the central figure behind the Bangladesh Liberation Movement and the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. He is thus considered to be the founding father of Bangladesh. His daughter Sheikh Hasina is the current leader of the Awami League and the present Prime Minister of Bangladesh.
Abul Kasem Fazlul Huq (26 October 1873—27 April 1962) was a Bengali lawyer, legislator and statesman in the 20th century. Huq was a major political figure in British India and later in Pakistan (including East Pakistan, which is now Bangladesh). He is notable for officially introducing the Lahore Resolution in 1940. Huq was first elected to the Bengal Legislative Council from Dacca in 1913; and served on the council for 21 years until 1934. He was a member of the Central Legislative Assembly for 2 years, between 1934 and 1936. For 10 ten years between 1937 and 1947, he was an elected member of the Bengal Legislative Assembly, where he was Prime Minister and Leader of the House for 6 years. He was later elected to the East Bengal Legislative Assembly, where he was Chief Minister for 2 months; and to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, where he was Home Minister for 1 year, in the 1950s.
Rabindranath Tagore (7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941), sobriquet Gurudev, was a Bengali polymath who reshaped Bengali literature and music, as well as Indian art with Contextual Modernism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Author of Gitanjali and its "profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse", he became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. Tagore's poetic songs were viewed as spiritual and mercurial; however, his "elegant prose and magical poetry" remain largely unknown outside Bengal. He is sometimes referred to as "the Bard of Bengal"
Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy (English IPA: ɦusæŋ ʃɑid sɦuɾɑwɑɾdɪə; Urdu: حسین شہید سہروردی; Bengali: হোসেন শহীদ সোহ্রাওয়ার্দী; 8 September 1892 – 5 December 1963) was an East Pakistani politician and statesman in the first half of the 20th century. He served as the last Prime Minister of Bengal during the British Raj and following the independence of Pakistan in 1947, he became a leading populist statesman of East Pakistan and served as Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Kazi Nazrul Islam (Bengali: কাজী নজরুল ইসলাম, pronounced [kadʒi nodʒrul islam]) (১১ই জৈষ্ঠ্য, 26 May 1899 – 27 August 1976) was a Bengali poet, writer, musician, and revolutionary. He is the national poet of Bangladesh. Popularly known as Nazrul, he produced a large body of poetry and music with themes that included religious devotion and spiritual rebellion against fascism and oppression. Nazrul's activism for political and social justice earned him the title of "Rebel Poet" (Bengali: বিদ্রোহী কবি; Bidrohi Kobi). His compositions form the avant-garde genre of Nazrul Sangeet (Music of Nazrul). The same genre is known as Nazrul Geeti (Music of Nazrul) in India. In addition to being revered in Bangladesh, he is equally commemorated and revered in India, especially in the Bengali-speaking states of West Bengal and Tripura.
Subhas Chandra Bose (23 January 1897 – 18 August 1945)[a] was an Indian nationalist whose defiant patriotism made him a hero in India,[b][c][d] but whose attempt during World War II to rid India of British rule with the help of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan left a troubled legacy.[e][f][g] The honorific Netaji (Hindustani: "Respected Leader"), first applied in early 1942 to Bose in Germany by the Indian soldiers of the Indische Legion and by the German and Indian officials in the Special Bureau for India in Berlin, was later used throughout India.
Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani (Bengali: মাওলানা ভাসানী;12 December 1880 – 17 November 1976) was a popular Islamic scholar and political leader in British India (now Bangladesh). He remained a rural-based politician renowned for selflessness and solidarity with the oppressed. His long political tenure spanned the British colonial India, Pakistan and Bangladesh periods. He gained popularity among peasants and helped establish the East Pakistan Peasant Association. Owing to his leaning to the left, often dubbed "Islamic Socialism", he is also called "The Red Maulana".
Satyajit Ray (Bengali: সত্যজিৎ রায়, Bengali: [ˈʃɔt̪ːodʒit̪ ˈrai̯] (About this sound listen); 2 May 1921 – 23 April 1992) was an Indian filmmaker and author, widely regarded as one of the greatest filmmakers of the 20th century. Ray was born in the city of Calcutta into a Bengali Brahmo family which was prominent in the field of arts and literature. Starting his career as a commercial artist, Ray was drawn into independent filmmaking after meeting French filmmaker Jean Renoir and viewing Vittorio De Sica's Italian neorealist film Bicycle Thieves (1948) during a visit to London.
Jasimuddin (1 January 1903 – 13 March 1976; born Jasim Uddin) was a Bengali poet, songwriter, prose writer, folklore collector and radio personality. He is commonly known in Bangladesh as Polli Kobi (The Rural Poet), for his faithful rendition of Bengali folklore in his works.
Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar CIE (26 September 1820 – 29 July 1891), born Ishwar Chandra Bandyopadhyay (Ishshor Chôndro Bôndopaddhae; Bengali: ঈশ্বরচন্দ্র বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়), was an Indian Bengali polymath and a key figure of the Bengal Renaissance. He was a philosopher, academic educator, writer, translator, printer, publisher, entrepreneur, reformer and philanthropist. His efforts to simplify and modernize Bengali prose were significant. He also rationalized and simplified the Bengali alphabet and type, which had remained unchanged since Charles Wilkins and Panchanan Karmakar had cut the first (wooden) Bengali type in 1780. He also forced British to pass widow remarriage act
Begum Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain, commonly known as Begum Rokeya (9 December 1880 – 9 December 1932), was a Bengali writer, educationist, social activist, and advocate of women's rights. She is considered as the pioneer of Islamic feminism in Bengal.
Satyendra Nath Bose, FRS (/boʊs/; Bengali: Sôtyendronath Bosu; 1 January 1894 – 4 February 1974) was an Indian physicist from Bengal specialising in theoretical physics. He is best known for his work on quantum mechanics in the early 1920s, providing the foundation for Bose–Einstein statistics and the theory of the Bose–Einstein condensate. A Fellow of the Royal Society, he was awarded India's second highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan in 1954 by the Government of India.
Surya Sen (22 March 1894 – 12 January 1934) was an Indian independence activist who was influential in the Indian independence movement (against British rule) who is noted for leading the 1930 Chittagong armoury raid In Chittagong of Bengal in British India (now in Bangladesh). Sen was a school teacher by profession and was popularly called as Master Da ("da" is a honorific suffix in Bengali language). He was influenced by the nationalist ideals in 1916 while he was a student of B.A. in Behrampore College. In 1918 he was selected as president of Indian National Congress, Chittagong branch.. He was known for his brilliant actions and effort in Indian history by taking young teenagaers and turning them into revolutionaries against the British stationed in Chittagong with this bold step of recuriting in teenagers then fought against the British Cantonment and in the mountainous regions of Chittagong like Jalalabad hills, but then separated and went their separate ways still trying to get the British out of Chittagong, various attempts were successful in the beginning but many failed as well and many revolutionaries were arrested which broke movement.
Michael Madhusudan Dutt, or Michael Madhusudan Dutta (Bengali: মাইকেল মধুসূদন দত্ত (About this sound Maikel Modhushudôn Dôtto (help·info)); 25 January 1824 – 29 June 1873) was a popular 19th-century Bengali poet and dramatist. He was a pioneer of Bengali drama. His famous work Meghnad Bodh Kavya, is a tragic epic. It consists of nine cantos and is exceptional in Bengali literature both in terms of style and content. He also wrote poems about the sorrows and afflictions of love as spoken by women.
Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose, CSI, CIE, FRS (/boʊs/; Bengali: [dʒɔgod̪iʃ tʃɔnd̪ro bosu]; 30 November 1858 – 23 November 1937), also spelled Jagdish and Jagadis, was a Bengali polymath, physicist, biologist, biophysicist, botanist and archaeologist, and an early writer of science fiction. Living in British India, he pioneered the investigation of radio and microwave optics, made significant contributions to plant science, and laid the foundations of experimental science in the Indian subcontinent. IEEE named him one of the fathers of radio science. Bose is considered the father of Bengali science fiction, and also invented the crescograph, a device for measuring the growth of plants. A crater on the moon has been named in his honour.
Sarojini Naidu was a freedom fighter and poet of modern India. She was born in a Bengali family on February 13, 1879 at Hyderabad and was educated in Chennai, London and Cambridge. She married Dr. Govdarajulu Naidu and settled down in Hyderabad. She took part in the National Movement, became a follower of Gandhiji (Mahatma Gandhi) and fought for the attainment of Swaraj. She became the President of Indian National Congress and later she was appointed the Governed of the United Provinces, now Uttar pradesh. Known as the 'Nightingale of India', she composed poetry in which swift thoughts and strong emotions sprang into lyrics by themselves. She has given expression to the joys as well as to the sorrows of life. She was sensitive to the beauty of living things. Her poetry includes children's poems, nature poems, patriotic poems and poems of love and death.
Ziaur Rahman (Bengali: জিয়াউর রহমান Ji-yaur Rôhman; 19 January 1936 – 30 May 1981) was a Bangladeshi politician and army general who declared the Independence of Bangladesh on behalf of its first interim head of state Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He later served as the 7th President of Bangladesh from 21 April 1977 until his assassination on 30 May 1981.
Sukumar Ray (Bengali: সুকুমার রায়; About this sound Sukumār Rāẏ (help·info)) (30 October 1887 – 10 September 1923) was an Indian Bengali humorous poet, story writer and playwright who mainly wrote for children. His works such as the collection of poems Abol Tabol (Bengali: আবোলতাবোল)("Gibberish"), novella HaJaBaRaLa (Bengali: হযবরল), short story collection Pagla Dashu (Bengali: পাগলা দাশু; "Crazy Dashu") and play Chalachittachanchari (Bengali: চলচিত্তচঞ্চরী) are considered equal in stature to Alice in Wonderland. More than 80 years after his death, Ray remains one of the most popular of children's writers in both West Bengal and Bangladesh.
Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, alternatively spelt as Sarat Chandra Chatterjee (15 September 1876 – 16 January 1938), was a prominent Bengali novelist and short story writer of early 20th century. Most of his works deal with the lifestyle, tragedy, struggle of the village people and the contemporary social practices that prevailed in Bengal. He remains the most popular, most translated, most adapted, and most plagiarized Indian author of all time.
Upendrakishore Ray Chowdhury (Bengali: উপেন্দ্রকিশোর রায়চৌধুরী), also known as Upendrokishore Ray (উপেন্দ্রকিশোর রায়) (12 May 1863  – 20 December 1915) was a famous Bengali writer, painter, violin player and composer, technologist and entrepreneur. He was the son-in-law of Dwarkanath Ganguly. He was the father of the famous writer Sukumar Ray and grandfather of the renowned filmmaker Satyajit Ray. Upendrakishore Ray Chowdhury was a product and leading member of the Brahmo Movement that spearheaded the cultural rejuvenation of Bengal. He collaborated with the Tagores whose family, in the arts, achieved world renown. As a writer he is best known for his collection of folklore; as a printer he pioneered in India in the art of engraving and was the first to attempt color printing at the time when engraving and color printing were also being pioneered in the West.
Muhammad Yunus (Bengali: মুহাম্মদ ইউনূস; born 28 June 1940) is a Bangladeshi social entrepreneur, banker, economist, and civil society leader who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for founding the Grameen Bank and pioneering the concepts of microcredit and microfinance. These loans are given to entrepreneurs too poor to qualify for traditional bank loans. In 2006, Yunus and the Grameen Bank were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize "for their efforts through microcredit to create economic and social development from below". The Norwegian Nobel Committee said that "lasting peace cannot be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty" and that "across cultures and civilizations, Yunus and Grameen Bank have shown that even the poorest of the poor can work to bring about their own development". Yunus has received several other national and international honours. He received the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2010.
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