1700 – Shrimant Peshwa Baji Rao I,the second Peshwa(Prime Minister) was born.He was the fourth Maratha emperor Chhatrapati Shahu’s Peshwa.Peshwa Baji Rao was a noted general and was popular with his troops. Baji Rao realised and exploited the cracks in the Mughal Empire due to the tendency of feudalistic forces towards fragmentation. Baji Rao I never lost a battle ,one of the only three generals in world who never lost. Baji Rao was an outstanding cavalry leader and was known for his swift and innovative tactical movements. As a commander he led the Marathas in victories against the Siddis of Janjira, the Portuguese, the Nizam, Bungash Khan who was regarded as the bravest generals of the Mughal army, near Mahoba etc. Baji Rao was also well known for his political wisdom and maintained cordial relations with the Rajputs. Baji Rao is hailed as one of the greatest warriors and protectors of Hindu dharma.
1852 – Respected Hindustani classical musician Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar was born. As a kid, during the festival of ‘Dutt Jayanti’ , a fire-cracker burst near his face as a result of which he had lost his eyesight. It was the King of Miraj who recognized his talent and made arrangements for his training under Balakrishnabuwa Ichalkaranjikar, a learned musician who trained young Vishnu for 12 years. He toured India to study different musical traditions
1900 – The first Indian woman to hold a cabinet post and the first woman President of the United Nations General Assembly, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit was born. After India gained Independence she became India’s ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1947 to 1949, the United States and Mexico from 1949 to 1951, Ireland from 1955 to 1961 and Spain from 1958 to 1961. She headed the delegation of India to the United Nations from 1946 to 1968 and in 1953 became the first woman President of the United Nations General Assembly. She served as the Indian representative to the UN Human Rights Commission before retiring from public life.
1936 – Renowned poet, lyricist and director Sampooran Singh Kalra better known by his pen name ‘Gulzar’ was born. Gulzar’s contribution to Hindi film Industry is immense. He has penned some of the most memorable songs in Hindi Cinema and continues to do so. Films directed by him were critically acclaimed. He has also worked on small screen and created ‘Mirza Ghalib’ and ‘Tahreer Munshi Premchand Ki’. He penned lyrics for serials ‘Hello Zindagi’, ‘Potli Baba Ki’ and ‘Jungle Book’. He won the ‘National Film Award’ 5 times and the ‘Filmfare Award’ 19 times. Popular song ‘Jai Ho’ from ‘Slumdog Millionaire'(2008) won him ‘Academy Award’ in 2008 and the ‘Grammy Award’ in 2010. In 2004, he was honoured with the Padma Bhushan. In one of his stories ‘Batwara’, based on an incident in his life, Gulzar mentions how,in 1984, one Iqbal Singh from Pakistan of letters to him claiming that Gulzar was his long lost younger brother ‘Punni’ who was separated from Singh’s family during the partition of India and Pakistan.Though Gulzar dismissed it as absurd at first but later when he met Singh’s family it seemed like it could be true. Click on the link to read this interesting incident.
1945 – The Mitsubishi Ki-21 bomber carrying Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, supreme commander of the ‘Azad Hind Fauj’ crashed at the Matsuyama aerodrome (now ‘Shongshan’ airport)in Taipei, Taiwan though it remains unconfirmed.Various committees were set up to find out what happened to Netaji but to no avail. A Delhi-based non profit organisation ‘Mission Netaji’ is to dedicated to investigating Netaji’s disappearance.
1956 – Former India cricketer Sandeep Patil was born. Patil was an attacking batsman and a useful medium-pacer. He scored a half-century (64 runs) and was adjudged Man of the Match on his debut against Australia in One-day Internationals in 1980-81. After Patil hung his boots he took to coaching and went on to coach the India ‘A’ team and the national team before he taking charge of Kenya. He had a successful stint with Kenya as the team,considered a minnow in cricketing world, reached the Semi-finals in 2003 Cricket World Cup jointly hosted by Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe. He is currently the director of the National Cricket Academy. Patil also featured in the film ‘Kabhi Ajnabi The’ with Poonam Dhillon and Debashree Roy.
1967 – The ‘Hai O Rabba’ and ‘Tunak Tunak Tun’ hit-maker, popular Bhangra singer Daler Mehandi was born. Daler took lessons in classical singing before he switched to Pop music. In 1995, his first album ‘Bolo Ta Ra Ra’ created a sensation as it sold over 20 million copies and went on to become the best selling non-soundtrack album in the history of Indian Music. In 1998,’Tunak Tunak Tun’ became an internet sensation. The music video of ‘Tunak Tunak Tun’ was the first in India to make use of bluescreen technology. Some of his albums are: ‘Bolo Ta Ra Ra'(1995), ‘Dardi Rab Rab'(1996), ‘Ho Jayegi Balle Balle'(1997), ‘Tunak Tunak Tun'(1998).
1998 – Former Miss India Persis Khambatta passed away. She represented India in Miss Universe pageant in 1965. She is best remembered for role as ‘Lieutenant Ilia’ in Star Trek: The Motion Picture(1979). She also starred in ‘Nighthawks’ (1981), ‘Megaforce’ (1982) and ‘Warrior of the Lost World’ (1983). She was last seen in an episode of ‘Lois and Clark:The New Adventures of Superman’ as an Indian Ambassador.