What a year 2018 was! It whizzed by sprinkling the world with competitive and creative South Asians, who awed everyone with their brilliance. With Imran Khan making to the top of the list, we had multiple other talents cropping all across, that made the world sit up and take note! Bravo!
50. ALYSSA RAGHU
Location: Orlando, Florida
Why Is She Cool: This 15-year-old literally blew Katy Perry’s socks off with her beautiful rendition of the song ‘Almost Is Never Enough’ by Ariana Grande. Alyssa Raghunandan, better known as Raghu, is the Indo-Guyanese singer from Orlando, Florida who wowed the judges in the audition of American Idol, Season 16. She reached the Top 24 but was eliminated after that.
What’s Next: She has auditioned for the next season of American Idol, and we will have to wait till March to find out if she makes it.
Cool Fun Fact: Raghu had starred in the production of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical “In the Heights,” as Nina Rosario.
49. SYED A. RAHMAN
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Why Is He Cool: Modern Wall Art manufactures and sells stainless steel wall art in the form of Arabic calligraphy. They are the first and only Arabic Art Gallery based in North America. Everything Rahman and his team do is handmade and thus, more pliable to customization than what is usually offered. Giving back is very important to him and he regularly collects money for humanitarian aid, and, in recent months, has been doing more outreach in the community and getting more involved in various community events through social media.
What’s Next: The last decade saw Rahman convert his hobby into a full-time profession and he promises to make his presence bigger in the coming year. His gallery will be open to artists who have unique work to offer. He also wants to step up his humanitarian efforts to help those in need.
Cool Fun Fact: Modern Wall Art is rated #1 on Google for most Arabic designs made.
48. SASHI CHELIAH
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Why Is He Cool: Indian-origin, Singapore-born Sashi Cheliah won the title of MasterChef Australia 2018 and 250,000 Australian dollars. Cheliah, whose roots are in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, served as a prison guard at Adelaide, Australia. Before this, he served as a police officer in Singapore for 12 years. He started cooking only in 2012, but he had always been passionate about it.
What’s Next: He has launched a pop-up in Melbourne called Gaja by Sashi, which will have Indian and South-East Asian food. His bigger plan, however, is to travel around Australia with pop-ups in different places.
Cool Fun Fact: He is the first contestant of MasterChef Australia to have scored 93 points out of 100, the highest ever, in a finale.
47. GARIMA ARORA
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Why Is She Cool: Garima Arora is the first ever Indian female chef to win a Michelin star for her restaurant GAA in Bangkok, Thailand. Her voyage as a chef formally began when she was 21, and in fact, she was working as a journalist before that. As a Punjabi, food has always been a big part of her life and self-expression. Her artsy and delicious blend of Indian and Thai food earned her the distinction in the Michelin Guide Bangkok, Phuket and Phang-Nga 2019. Her restaurant GAA is one of the 27 Michelin-featured eateries in Bangkok and Phuket which are now documented in the new guide. One famous dish on her tasting menu unites flame broiled unripe jackfruit, custom-made pickles, and Indian roti. Unripe jackfruit is prominent in India, yet the roti is made with the ripe variant of the fruit which is progressively well known in Thailand.
What’s Next: As a culinary expert, her everyday motto is that her clients must leave with the “feeling of never having eaten something like this ever.” She is pleased with her restaurant and her team and wants to focus on GAA and continue doing what they are doing.
Cool Fun Fact: She has worked with famous chefs as the likes of Gordon Ramsay, Gaggan Anand, and René Redzepi.
46. BALLI KAUR JASWAL
Why Is She Cool: Balli Kaur Jaswal was born in Singapore and grew up in Japan, Russia, and the Philippines. She studied Creative Writing at Hollins University in the US and was awarded the David TK Wong Creative Writing Fellowship at the University of East Anglia.
What’s Next: Her next book “The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters” will be published in 2019.
Cool Fun Fact: Her first novel “Inheritance” was published by Sleepers Publishing in Australia in 2013 (where Balli lived for some years) and won the Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Young Australian Novelist award.
45. SUNIYA KHAN
Location: Islamabad, Pakistan
Why Is She Cool: Suniya Khan is a rocket scientist who is the only female Formula 1 engineer from Pakistan with the Williams F1 Team. Khan completed her bachelors in Aerospace Engineering and then went to Cranfield University in the UK for her masters in Motorsport Engineering and Management. She was a member of the Race Operations Support Team and provided additional analysis and support to the race engineers on race weekends.
What’s Next: Presently, Khan has co-founded an online platform called Mauqa Online which connects uneducated domestic helpers with nearby household work opportunities like cleaning, childcare, and cooking. The platform has created technology that can be used by illiterate people as well.
Cool Fun Fact: During her masters, she worked as a waitress on weekdays and for free as a mechanic on weekends!
44. MAJIZIYA BHANU
Location: Orkatteri, Kozhikode, India
Why Is She Cool: Breaking a lot of stereotypes, Majiziya Bhanu is a powerlifter who dons a hijab. Bhanu, who had a strong physique, gradually developed an interest in powerlifting but felt inhibited because of the “skin show” involved in it. Her apprehensions were cast aside by her fiancé who encouraged her in every possible way and suggested that she look up for female Muslim bodybuilders from across the world on the internet. In 2018, she participated in and won the best woman fitness physique award at the Mr. Kerala competition organized by the Body Building Association Of Kerala and Sports Council Of Kerala.
What’s Next: Bhanu wants to open a powerlifting training facility for women in her town so that they do not have to travel long distances like she did (she used to travel 60 km to a gym in Kozhikode) to pursue a career in fitness.
Cool Fun Fact: She represented India at the Arm-Wrestling World Championship in Turkey in October 2018 and came in 14th!
43. PRABAL GURUNG
Location: New York, USA
Why Is He Cool: This Nepali-American fashion designer who launched his line in 2009 at the New York Fashion Week, was highlighted in 2018 as many stars wore his designs at this past year’s Met Gala. The theme for the 2018 Met Gala was “heavenly bodies,” Gurung made a statement by dressing women from diverse backgrounds in gowns reinterpreted by religious themes. Gurung chose celebrities like Deepika Padukone, Hikari Mori, Hailee Steinfeld, Diane Kruger, and Ashley Graham etc., to walk the ramp wearing the first bespoke gowns from the new, couture-like Atelier collection.
What’s Next: He has started incorporating his national colors and culture into his designs now and will be working on his 2019 collection.
Cool Fun Fact: He also collaborated with Target as their 2013 designer collaborator. He has also received Ecco Domani Fashion Fund Award in 2010 and several other accolades for his work so far.
42. RADHIKA APTE
Location: Mumbai, India
Why Is She Cool: 2018 has been a significant year for the bold and beautiful, Radhika Apte. She featured in three Indian productions of Netflix—the compilation film ‘Lust Stories’, the spine-chiller series ‘Sacred Games’ and horror mini-series ‘Ghoul’. Additionally, her work in independent Bollywood movies included the critical roles in “Pad Man,” a biographical film, “Andhadhun,” a dark parody, and “
What’s Next: Among her up and coming movies are three Hindi dialect projects, “The Field,” the component debut of Rohit Karn Batra, ‘”Parched” from Leena Yadav, and “Bombairiya,” which is a Hindi-language black comedy-drama film.
Cool Fun Fact: Radhika has stood up against lewd behavior in the Indian film industry. She reinforced the #MeToo movement in India, hoping that it could make the change if enough real industry figures were to participate.
41. SONALI BENDRE
Location: Mumbai, India
Why Is She Cool: A popular Indian actress, model, and author, Sonali Bendre has worked in several Bollywood movies. On July 4, 2018, she revealed that she had cancer and that she was heading for treatment to NYC. She shared several details about it on her social media accounts and became an inspiration to many cancer patients, making people believe in second chances. By talking about breast cancer, a taboo subject in India, Bendre became a role model for everyone who undergoes a terminal disease and is disheartened by it.
What’s Next: She is collaborating with her son, Ranveer Behl, on her book club SBC where both mom and son will be reading Half Brother by Kennet Opal.
Cool Fun Fact: She is one of the few actresses in Bollywood to have worked with all the four Khans of the industry. And she has also worked in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Marathi films.
40. ANEESH CHAGANTY
Location: New York, USA
Why Is He Cool: Aneesh Chaganty is a 27-year-old Indian-American film director, actor, and screenwriter who featured his debut film, “Searching,” in 2018. His film was also premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won three awards including the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize and the Best of Next! award. Originally from Andhra Pradesh, India, Chaganty got his degree in film and TV production from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. He made his first short film in 2014 called “Seeds” using Google Glass which became a huge internet sensation after receiving 1 million views in just 24 hours of its release. He has been named in the Forbes 30 Under 30 watchlist for Hollywood 2019.
What’s Next: He will be working as a director and co-writer on a Lionsgate film, “Run” next.
Cool Fun Fact: He used to work in the Google Creative Lab in NYC as a writer and developer for short film commercials and has worked on more than 24 short videos till date.
39. FALGUNI & SHANE PEACOCK
Location: New Delhi, India
Why Are They Cool: Falguni & Shane Peacock are the emerging luxury couture fashion designer couple, who are instrumental for taking Indian fashion to Hollywood, with their breathtakingly beautiful and captivating designs. They are popular for making dream-themed, and marvelous designs with their signature use of feathers, sequence, and prints. Their passionate consideration of going into the minutest details and design of imparting stupendous complexity is characteristic in the fashion industry not only in India but also abroad. Their clothes transition from chic to edgy, combined with a slightly wicked charm, that shouts out perfection to today’s rock and roll superstars.
What’s Next: The husband and wife duo have done a great job with their signature feather detailing and plunging necklines in costumes. They are using shimmering details and metallic hues in the party and wedding outfits and we would love to see their future work.
Cool Fun Fact: Falguni & Shane have made high octane stylish and edgy designs for glamorous events such as red carpet events and concerts. Their elegant customer base incorporates the likes of Fergie, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaz, Kesha, Nicole Scherzinger, Megan Good, Naomi Harris, Katie Melua, Cheryl Cole, Hofit Golan, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, and Jennifer Lopez.
38. SAJID IQBAL
Location: Dhaka, Bangladesh
Why Is He Cool: Sajid Iqbal founded the organization CHANGE, which is a youth-led development agency that works in the field of environment, renewable energy, and water in Bangladesh. Iqbal started with solar bottle light, aka “Botol Bati.” Thereafter he developed the idea of using low-cost natural light in disadvantaged communities called “Surjo Bati” (solar pipe light). CHANGE is a global partner of Liter of Light which is working in more than 37 countries to promote low-cost affordable lighting solutions. He was named by Forbes Asia in the Social Entrepreneurs list of 2018.
What’s Next: Iqbal is trying to scale the production of the Surjo Bati Factory and seeking investment from the private sector as well as the government.
Cool Fun Fact: Iqbal received the Queen’s Young Leaders Award in 2017.
37. LILLY SINGH
Location: Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Why Is She Cool: Lilly Singh is a Canadian born content creator of Indian origin. The 30-year-old YouTuber is a comedian, author, and actress. She began her YouTube channel in 2010 and has over 14 million subscribers with over 2 billion views. Her earlier content and vlogs were focused on Indian culture and ethnic background. In July 2018, Lilly traveled to South Africa as the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador to meet the students of elementary schools who spoke against bullying and classroom violence. 2018 also saw Singh appear in the music video for Maroon 5’s “Girls Like You” featuring Cardi B.
What’s Next: The Canadian-born content creator announced in Nov. 2018 that she had to take a mental health break from YouTube after eight years and promised her fans to be back happier and healthier.
Cool Fun Fact: According to Forbes magazine, she was the 10th highest paid YouTube star with over $10.5 million earnings in 2017. She had ranked first on the 2017 Forbes Top Influencers List in the entertainment category.
36. DEEPICA MUTLAYA
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Why Is She Cool: Tinted is an online platform established in 2018 by Deepica
What’s Next: All in all, she looks forward to more growth in the times to come for Tinted. As of now, it is a developing procedure that new things are consistently coming her way. It is a stage to make ladies feel loved in their skin. Her tagline “My Skin Is Not A Trend” sets the tone of who Deepica is and what she stands for.
Cool Fun Fact: She wanted to make her presence felt in the game of beauty and her folks were always very supportive of this. As a matter of fact, she left her corporate job at Birchbox to seek her passion for beauty and become a beauty expert. Tinted resembles the start of her progressive objectives.
35. NAVDEEP BAINS
Location: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Why Is He Cool: Navdeep Bains was born in Toronto, Ontario to Indian Sikh immigrant parents. He is currently the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development in the 29th Canadian Ministry, headed by Justin Trudeau. With a Masters in Business Administration, Bains has worked for Nike Canada and Ford Motor Company. As per Bay Street Bull Power 50 List of 2018, he is the second most influential person in Canada. He is also listed in Apolitical’s World’s 100 Most Influential People in Digital Government. He also launched Canada’s first-ever Intellectual Property Strategy. Two of the Bills introduced by Bains, C-25, and C-36 received the Royal Assent in 2018. C-25 proposed to amend federal corporate law to promote corporate transparency and increase diversity on corporate board by focusing on the participation of women on corporate boards, as well as on senior management teams.
What’s Next: He is the first candidate to be nominated for the 2019 election.
Cool Fun Fact: In 2004, when Bains was first elected, he was only 26 years old and the youngest Liberal MP in Parliament.
34. PADMASREE WARRIOR
Location: Location: San Jose, Northern California
Why Is she Cool: Padmasree Warrior is the former US CEO (2015-2018) of Chinese electric-autonomous-vehicle startup NIO and is also a member of its board of directors. She is also on the boards of Microsoft and Spotify. A graduate from IIT, Delhi, Warrior started her career at Motorola and worked there for 23 years and also served as the Executive Vice President from 2005-2007. In 2007, she left Motorola to become the CTO at Cisco Systems and after 8 years, she left in 2015.
What’s Next: She resigned from NIO due to personal reasons and is eager to tackle the next global problem that can be solved with the help of technology.
Cool Fun Fact: She was featured in the Forbes’ list of America’s Top 50 Women in Tech 2018 and Power Women 2015 and has received several other accolades and features from well-established publications like Fortune Magazine, The Economic Times, etc.
33. KAMAKSHI SIVARAMAKRISHNAN
Location: California, USA
Why Is She Cool:Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan is the CEO of one of the leading technology companies in the world. Drawbridge is instrumental in modifying the way in which various enterprises and brands connect with people. The Drawbridge group built the first machine-adapting advertising innovation that uses bits of knowledge from IDs of the devices to empower advertisers and marketers to access the target gathering of people crosswise over screens. Her company gets more than twelve billion promotion requests per day, and accordingly, has matched more than one billion gadgets till date, making her fit to be counted among America’s Top Women in Tech 2018.
What’s Next:She has been building a mind-boggling program to be increasingly intuitive about how clients collaborate with advertisements on the web, and also crosswise over various platforms such as cell phones, laptops, and tablets, etc. Drawbridge is also attempting to manufacture an unspecified database of shoppers, all the while keeping their identity undisclosed to vendors.
Cool Fun Fact: The exceptional peculiarity of her work can be seen by the fact that the technology Kamakshi was working on went on board New Horizons which is the farthest space mission to Pluto and planetary system by NASA.
32. KOMAL AHMAD
Location: San Francisco, California
Why Is She Cool: Komal Ahmad is the founder and CEO of Copia which is working to solve hunger ( which according to her, is the world’s dumbest problem), and reduce food waste globally. Copia has developed technology which allows businesses to safely donate their excess food, access enhanced tax deductions, and receive powerful data to inform food purchasing decisions. With the support of high profile campaigners like Frieda Pinto, the company has managed food recovery from events like Super Bowl 50 and the Oscars. Most recently, they were one of the first responders to the California Wildfires. Copia has been named as one of the top 3 women-led startups in the USA and one of the top 8 startups graduating from Y-Combinator and is also on the Forbes 30 Under 30 watchlist for Food & Drink 2019.
What’s Next: Ahmad wants to scale the quantity of food distribution and its outreach in the following year.
Cool Fun Fact: Under her leadership, Copia has recovered over 1,000,000 pounds of food and fed almost 2 million people in 2018, with high-quality food that would have otherwise been wasted.
31. AYMAN SADIQ
Location: Location: Dhaka, Bangladesh
What Is He Cool: Ayman Sadiq founded the revolutionizing online education platform in 2015 known as the “10 Minute School.” The Bangladesh-based, free online education platform features hundreds of live classes and smartbooks, thousands of video tutorials, and tens of thousands of quizzes and other educational tools designed to reach anyone looking to improve their skills. Before the infrastructure and website could be put in place, Sadiq had started the classes in the form of video tutorials on YouTube and then moved on to live classes via Facebook. He has been named in the Forbes Asia 30 Under 30 list of Social Entrepreneurs.
What’s Next: Sadiq plans on ensuring digital education to the maximum number of students from the comfort of their home. They have prepared “Smartbooks” on the entire syllabus which will help students to understand, and analyze poems, essays, and more.
Cool Fun Fact: As of July 2018, the website produced 4000 video lessons, 100 SmartBooks, 3965 quizzes, and 255 live classes.
30. ANCHAL LAMBA
Location: New York, New York
Why Is She Cool: Anchal Lamba is a 28-year-old first-generation American Indian woman who started her own bubble tea store, Gong Cha Tea in NYC in 2014. She and her family had always been big fans of the Taiwan-made bubble tea, which is made up of tapioca balls, water, and milk. When her father told her in 2012 that he had tasted the best bubble tea in Gong Cha, Anchal decided to open her own franchise and share with the USA what they have been missing out on. President of this Taiwan-based USA franchise, she has expanded her business and currently has more than 24 outlets of Gong Cha in 4 US states – NYC, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Texas. She is on the watchlist of Forbes 30 Under 30 in the Food & Drink section for 2019.
What’s Next: She is planning to further expand her bubble tea chain and open more new stores and franchises at other locations.
Cool Fun Fact: She struggled for two years to get the rights from the Taiwan-based company as they weren’t sure about non-Asians marketing their bubble tea. However, Anchal was passionate for her project, so she continued to convince them until they gave her the franchising rights to their bubble tea.
29. SUNNY SANWAR
Location: Kansas, Missouri
Why Is He Cool: Sunny Sanwar is a Bangladeshi immigrant who became a mechanical engineer at the age of 19. At the age of 22, he developed lithium-polymer battery packs and worked to scale them up from 1kwh to 1mwh. He sold his battery venture, Verd2Go to Exergonix in 2016 for $2 million and currently works at Exergonix as a lead developer of large-scale utility, rooftop solar and energy storage. He has also won ACS Heinz von Foerster Award in 2016 and teaches at the University of Missouri, Kansas City Business School to entrepreneurial MBA students and is on the watchlist of Forbes 30 Under 30’s Energy category for 2019.
What’s Next: He has recently found Dynahmex where they are developing an intelligence platform which will help cities and municipalities to reduce their energy consumption and plan their target emissions. This platform has been integrated by the Kansas City in 2018 for their city planning and is likely to be extended to other cities as well.
Cool Fun Fact: He worked as a columnist for the Daily Star and is a blogger too. He is also one of the youngest artists to have a solo exhibition at the National Art Gallery.
28. NEHA NARKHEDE
Location: San Francisco Bay Area, USA
Why Is She Cool: Neha Narkhede is one of the World’s Top 50 Women in Tech and America’s Top 50 Women in Tech as per Forbes in 2018. She is the co-founder and CTO at Confluent which provides the platform for Apache Kafka messaging system. She is heading the technology vertical as well as product strategy and engineering, just to make sure that they build the apt product for their customers. Thousands of big brands across the world such as LinkedIn, Pinterest, Netflix, Airbnb, Salesforce and Verizon have adopted Kafka. It is an open source technology which is similar to the central nervous system to connect all the data of the organization and make it accessible for use within a fraction of a second.
What’s Next: With all the organizations becoming more and more digital in the current scenario, she aims to create a central nervous system for all the companies on the planet, making Kafka exactly what they need.
Cool Fun Fact: She used to work with LinkedIn and founded this company along with her colleagues to build tools for various organizations such as Goldman Sachs, Uber, and Netflix. Confluent has raised more than $80 million in funding from financiers such as Benchmark and Sequoia Capital.
27. DHIVYA SURYADEVARA
Location: New York City, USA
Why Is She Cool: Dhivya Suryadevara was appointed as the first woman Chief Financial Officer of General Motors in 2018. A Harvard graduate, Suryadevara started her career in 2002 as an intern in the World Bank. She worked at Pricewaterhouse Coopers before shifting to investment banking at UBS. She started working at General Motors when she was 25. In 2013, she was made the CEO and Chief Investment officer of GM Asset Management and got promoted to the post of Vice President of Finance and Treasurer in 2015. In 2017, she was the Vice President of Corporate Finance at GM and now, she has become the CFO of this Fortune 500 company.
What’s Next: She is currently working to make General Motors more profitable.
Cool Fun Fact: She was also featured in the Fortune Magazine among 40 most influential and inspiring young people in 2015. She also has a family with a daughter and is juggling both her family and work by commuting between Detroit and NYC regularly.
26. ARSHEEN ALLAM
Location: Durham, North Carolina
Why Is She Cool: Arsheen Allam is the founder of GOLeafe, a foundation focused on discovering novel ways of filtering water using green materials.
What’s Next: She is still looking for viable options and methods to extract graphene from natural sources like grass, hay, etc. and is still in the development phase for her graphene-based energy storage technology.
Cool Fun Fact: Arsheen was also a graduate from the MBA school, Fuqua School of Business and was awarded the Clean Energy Prize of 10,000 USD by the Duke University Energy Initiative for her work at GOLeafe.
25. KOMAL MANGTANI
Location: San Francisco Bay Area, USA
Why Is She Cool: Komal Mangtani made it to the Forbes’ list of World’s Top 50 Women in Tech and America’s Top 50 Women in Tech in 2018. As a senior director at Uber, she currently heads the Business Intelligence Department, tracking customer service along with financial interactions. Priorly she had served at Box as VP Engineering where she conceived and created products related to vCloud Automation Center. She also serves on the board of Women Who Code as an advisory board member. It is a non-profit organization which focusses on increasing the access of women to Computer Science. Uber’s donation of $1.2 billion and partnership with Girls Who Code was led by Mangtani and it sure does make her “Uber” cool.
What’s Next: In the time to come, her center of concentration shall be on increasing the engineering culture at such as scale that nurtures technical modernization and fast-tracks the speed of business.
Cool Fun Fact: She is personally passionate about motivating women to pursue engineering. She runs a #LadyEng group at Uber, leading a partnership with Girls Who Code and serves on the board of Women Who Code with the intention of increasing the awareness of girls with regard to Computer Science.
24. SARAYU BLUE
Location: California, USA
Why Is She Cool: Sarayu Rao aka Sarayu R. Blue is an Indian American actress. She is best known for her work as Angela on the sitcom “Sons of Tucson,” which aired on Fox, and “Monday Mornings” where she played Dr. Sydney Napur, which aired on TNT. 2018 saw her become the second South Asian lead on a network commercial series with NBC’s “I Feel Bad.” She has also starred on a few other famous network shows like “Bones,” “Hawthorne,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “NCIS: Los Angeles,” and “Two and a Half Men.”
What’s Next: With NBC’s “I Feel Bad” on track, we are sure to be seeing a lot more of her in the mainstream American television.
Cool Fun Fact: Her role of Emet in “I Feel Bad” wasn’t written specifically for a woman of color. She was the only South Asian auditioning for the role, and she got the part. Interestingly, her selection opened doors for actors from other ethnicities on the cast as well.
23. NABELA NOOR
Location: Pennsylvania, USA
Why Is She Cool: Nabela Noor is a lifestyle blogger with a boundary-breaking attitude and a refreshing take on life. At the 2018 E.L.F. Cosmetics’ Beautyscape Influencer Program in New Orleans, she was the keynote speaker, inspiring a room of 20 attendees from across the world. This 27-year-old Bangladeshi-American is breaking all the preconceived notions of beauty that the world is hung up on. 2018 also saw her launch Noor House, a non-profit benefit that gives free lodging, access to food and water and educational resources (currently for 10 Bangladeshi families). Noor is much more than a YouTuber or Instagram Influencer, she is making waves in the industry to advocate for women of all shapes, sizes, cultures, and ethnicities and even spoke at the United Nations on inequality, migration, and refugees.
What’s Next: She just released a new video discussing her desire to become a mother and the fertility isssues she faces for which she is getting teatment. This is a struggle many women face and she urgers fans to leave the “are you pregnant yet?” question behind in 2018 as you never know how painful that question is to someone. She thanks her fans for their constant love, prayers, and support hoping they stay with her in this next chapter of her journey towards motherhood.
Cool Fun Fact: She has been a subject of ridicule due to her appearance but she gave a jaw-breaking response with her “I Love Me” video which was supported and loved by people all over the world.
22. MINDY KALING
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
Why Is She Cool: Among the many talented actresses reigning in Hollywood, there’s one Desi diva who has brought diversity to the group, the hilarious Mindy Kaling. The actress, comedian, writer, producer, new mom
What’s Next: Mindy Kaling’s new film with Hollywood star Emma Thompson, “Late Night,” is set to have its world premiere at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival to be held Jan. 24-Feb. 3 in Park City, Utah.
Cool Fun Fact: At the age of 19 and a sophomore at Dartmouth, Kaling was an intern on the Late Night with Conan O’Brien.
21. GITA GOPINATH
Location: Washington DC, USA
Why Is She Cool: Born and raised in Mysore, India, Gita Gopinath is an Indian-American economist who was appointed as the Economic Counsellor and Director of the IMF’s Research Department. She was appointed as the Chief Economist at the International Monetary Fund since October 2018. She is also a Professor of International Studies and Economics at Harvard University and a co-director of the International Finance and Macroeconomics program at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Her research focuses on International Finance and Macroeconomics.
What’s Next: She assumed office on January 1, 2019.
Cool Fun Fact: Her journey has been quite impressive. From being the Economic Adviser to the Chief Minister of Kerala, India, she went on to be named one of the top 25 economists under 45 by the International Monetary Fund in 2014.
20. LARAIB ATTA
Location: California, USA
Why Is She Cool: Laraib Atta is the youngest female VFX artist from Pakistan to reach Hollywood and her filmography, which even seasoned artists would envy, already includes blockbuster Hollywood movies like ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’, ‘Godzilla’, ‘Gravity’, ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’ and ‘Prince Caspian’, ’10, 000 BC’ and Johnny Depp’s ‘Sweeney Todd’. She is the daughter of the famous folk singer, Attaullah Khan Esakhelvi, who is one of the most acclaimed figures in Pakistan’s music industry. Her mother Bazgha Atta was a renowned actress as well.
What’s Next: She has collaborated on a Desi Emoji project which features desi emoticons representing all four provinces of Pakistan. It is available on iOS.
Cool Fun Fact: She has worked on commercials, TV series, music videos, and feature films. She has worked on Nike football commercial, Olympics promotions, and Disney commercials.
19. ANIK KHAN
Location: New York, New York
Why Is He Cool: Anik Khan is a Bangladeshi-American hip-hop artist. Khan was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh and raised in Astoria, New York. His father fought in the Bangladesh Liberation War and the family moved to the USA in 1993. This year Khan’s
What’s Next: He has released two singles in 2018. His latest single “Big Fax” was released as Saavn’s Artist Original Series. There are more songs in the works, but the rapper says he likes to take his time.
Cool Fun Fact: Khan’s music is ethnically diverse and is influenced by Indian, Bangladeshi, as well as West Indian music.
18. MEDHA GANDHI
Location: New York City
Why Is She Cool: Medha Gandhi joined the Elvis Duran and the Morning Show as the program’s new co-host in September 2018. She grew up in Miami and attended Nova Southeastern University in Florida for the first three years of college before transferring to Ohio State, where she simultaneously interned at a radio station and found her passion. Gandhi is a comedy writer and also produces parody songs. She gained on-air and EP experience working on the “Dave & Jimmy Show” at WNCI/Columbus, OH.
What’s Next: Being heard on Boston’s #
Cool Fun Fact: She is actually related to India’s Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi. Medha Gandhi is his great-granddaughter.
17. LIZA KOSHY
Location: California, USA
Why Is She Cool: Liza Koshy has become the TV host leading a new generation of talent in Hollywood. Her’s is the perfect success story of a star arising from streaming platforms like YouTube, Vine, and Instagram to attain celebrity status. Only just 22, she has bagged the opportunity to become the new host of Nickelodeon’s “Double Dare” reboot – proving that today, something as small as a 6-second video has the power to propel an entire career. This has also earned her a spot in the watchlist of Forbes 30 Under 30 in the Hollywood and Entertainment section for 2019. In 2018 she created, produced and starred in her own YouTube Originals series, ‘Liza on Demand’, in which she works in the gig economy. She also hosted the Big New Years Eve Ball drop at Times Square this year for ABC’s New Year Rocking Eve!
What’s Next: The Liza Koshy line of bags will be out this fall and she is all set to make a bigger name for herself in Hollywood.
Cool Fun Fact: Koshy’s YouTube channel has over 16.3 million subscribers and 2.5 billion views. Her rising stardom led her to interview then President of the United States, Barack Obama for a get-out-the-vote initiative in 2016.
16. RUPI KAUR
Location: Ontario, Canada
Why Is She Cool: The Indian-born Canadian writer, poet, performer, and illustrator, Rupi Kaur became a well-known name. Her books “Milk and Honey” and “The Sun and Her Flowers” have led her to become a #1 bestselling author by New York Times. She spent 2018 performing her poetry all across the globe, featured on the 22nd Birthday Edition of Cosmo India Magazine, and was interviewed by Emma Watson for her Intersectional Feminist Bi-monthly Book Club, Our Shared Self.
Home » Top 50 Coolest South Asians Of 2018
What’s Next: In the times to come, Rupi wants to continue expressing herself through her prose and poetry for a considerable length of time.
Cool Fun Fact: Just like in the Gurmukhi script, she also composes her work only in the lowercase and utilizes just the period as a type of accentuation.
15. MARVIA MALIK
Location: Lahore, Pakistan
Why Is She Cool: Marvia Malik became the first transgender newsreader to show up on Pakistani TV in the year 2018. In the past, she filled in as a makeup artist to fund her studies and eventually walked the ramp as well in the Pakistan Fashion Design Council form week in Lahore. Her job at
What’s Next: She plans to apply for a post-graduate degree in Mass Communication and Journalism. She also plans to battle for the privileges of the transgender community in Pakistan. She feels that the transgender population must not be minimized for their identity and must be considered as equivalent nationals.
Cool Fun Fact: Her modeling debut created a ton of publicity, and she got numerous offers from the fashion industry. But instead, she chose to apply for the post of a journalist since she wanted to accomplish more throughout her life and journalism was her obsession.
14. MANMEET KAUR
Location: Peshawar, Pakistan
Why Is She Cool: Manmeet Kaur is a 24-year old woman who became the first ever Sikh Pakistani journalist in 2018. A post graduate from Jinnah College for Women, Peshawar in social sciences, Kaur chose to become a journalist to encourage other Sikh women and improve the literacy rate among them, all the while aiming to bring more equality. She worked as an administrator for three years in a computer academy before becoming a news reporter for a TV channel. She has covered several religious, political, and cultural issues after becoming a news reporter and continues to inspire other women all over the world.
What’s Next: She is working to bring more equality to women and tackles new issues every day as a news reporter. Her only wish is to visit Amritsar as a reporter and cover the religious stories over there.
Cool Fun Fact: Manmeet Kaur aspired to become Pakistan’s first Sikh women model but chose to be a journalist instead.
13. GURSOCH KAUR
Location: New York, USA
Why Is She Cool: 2018 saw the first turbaned Sikh woman make her mark in the New York Police Department.
What’s Next: Kaur hopes for becoming a full-time, sworn-in police officer of NYPD and wants to make her community proud.
Cool Fun Fact: Turbans were allowed to be worn by recruits at NYPD in December 2016, Gursoch became the first woman to do so.
12. PAYAL KADAKIA
Location: New York, USA
Why Is She Cool: Class Pass is the subscription-based service which enables the users to find and book fitness classes on the web. In spite of her young age, Payal Kadakia has quite the resume and was included on the Fortune’s 40 Under 40 and Forbes’ Women Entrepreneurs to
What’s Next: Good Morning America has partnered with ClassPass for 2019 to share the helpful tips and tricks from some of Instagram’s biggest fitness enthusiasts to conquer fitness and health resolutions and features Hannah Bronfman, Shawn Johnson and Jessamyn Stanley in its new campaign highlighting how staying active plays a role in each of their daily lives.
Cool Fun Fact: Kadakia has been a dancer from the age of three years, and she conceived the idea for ClassPass when she was unable to find a ballet class to go to after work. She also serves as the artistic director for The Sa Dance Company, which is an Indian-American dance troupe.
11. RAJA KUMARI
Location: California, USA
Why Is She Cool: The 1st South Asian to sign with Epic Records, Raja Kumari has been unobtrusively making the rounds in the music business for a decade. In the wake of writing records for mainstream artists like Iggy Azalea, Fifth Harmony, Gwen Stefani, and Fall Out Boy she has also worked closely with heavyweights like Timbaland, J.R. Rotem, and Polow Da Don. Born Svetha Rao, this Indian American draws inspiration from her roots, for her music and fashion choices. Her latest single ” I Did It,” from Epic Records, draws motivation from her training in Indian classical music and her adoration for hip-hop.
What’s Next: Being a performer, she is continually searching for ways to connect the East and West. She is bold enough and created a foundation on legitimate Indian Culture and background. Her foundation is extremely solid and her Indian culture has helped her a lot to work on her terms.
Cool Fun Fact: She sang for the title track of Salman Khan-starrer ‘Race 3’ and the latest track ‘Husn Parcham’ for Shah Rukh Khan-starrer ‘Zero’.
10. ANJULA ACHARIA
Location: San Francisco, California, USA
Why Is She Cool: Entrepreneur and artist manager Anjula Acharia has defied the status quo and shattered countless stereotypes to earn a reputation as one of the tech and entertainment industry’s most formidable super-connectors. Her sharp eye for talent and distinct ability to bridge divides have fueled an expansive career that straddles industries and geographies. 2018 saw her step up her game with Trinity Ventures, speaking at the Forbes Women Summit, make Priyanka Chopra a bigger name in Hollywood, and she is all set to become the Executive Producer of a series starting in 2019 alongside Alex Lowry and Saint John.
What’s Next: Acharia educates a cluster concerning organizations in the consumer web space and is, as of now working with many organizations as a consultant and additionally an investor. Some of the names include – Class Pass, Hooked, The Muse, Mayvenn, Bulletproof Coffee, and Gobble, etc.
Cool Fun Fact: Business visionary turned-investor Anjula Acharia has resisted the norm and broken endless generalizations to win the name for being one of the considerable super-connectors of the tech and media industry.
9. JAMEELA JAMIL
Location: London, England
Why Is She Cool: Jameela Jamil is a British radio and TV presenter, actress and model who is known for her social advocacy. She is a part of Mike Shur’s critically acclaimed NBC series “The Good Place.” Born with intrinsic labyrinthitis and hearing loss, she underwent a few surgeries to get it all corrected as a child. During her teen years, she struggled with anorexia nervosa and was struck by a vehicle after being chased by a honey bee, which
What’s Next: You can find her on the TV series “Mira, Royal Detective” as Auntie Pushpa.
Cool Fun Fact: Jamil’s Instagram account @i _Weigh started a movement for the women to feel as valuable and astounding as they are and look past the flesh on the bones. This was motivated by a photograph of Kourtney, Khloé, Kim Kardashian, Kendall, and Kylie Jenner. This photography when went all over the web, enumerating weight of all of them.
8. POOJA JOSHI JESRANI
Location: Houston, Texas Area
Why Is She Cool: In July 2018, Jesrani was appointed as one of the six new flight directors at NASA. There are currently 26 flight directors at NASA. Jesrani is British born first generation immigrant to the US. She graduated from the University of Texas, Austin. She has worked with the flight control team, including CAPCOM and the management of life support and motion control systems. She started in 2007, as ISS Motion Control System Flight Controller (ADCO) and Instructor (MCG), then Program Integration Engineer for ISS and CST-100 in 2015. In 2016 she became the Lead ISS CapCom Engineer before becoming a flight director.
What’s Next: She is going to be responsible for guiding mission control and overseeing spacecraft missions launched by the International Space Station. As flight director, she will head teams of flight controllers, research and engineering experts, and support personnel around the world and make real-time decisions critical to keeping NASA and International Partner astronauts safe in space. She will also oversee a variety of human spaceflight missions involving the International Space Station including the integration of American-made commercial crew spacecraft like SpaceX Dragon or Boeing Starliner, into the fleet of vehicles servicing the orbiting laboratory.
Cool Fun Fact: She is the first female South Asian Flight Director in NASA’s history.
7. MINAL DAVIS PATEL
Location: Houston, Texas
Why Is She Cool: Minal Patel Davis is an Indian American who serves as Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Special Advisor on Human Trafficking. Davis attended New York University and went on to do her MBA from the University of Connecticut. In 2015. Davis was appointed as special advisor to the Mayor of Houston to combat the human trafficking menace in the city. Davis received the 2018 Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking.
What’s Next: Davis has developed and implemented Mayor Turner’s Anti-Human Trafficking Strategic Plan, which is the first comprehensive municipal response to human trafficking by a US city. She was a speaker at the United Nations World Humanitarian Summit, United States Conference of Mayors. She also recently traveled to India and Canada at the request of the State Department to discuss municipal leadership in trafficking with government officials.
Cool Fun Fact: The Special Advisor position is the first municipal-level position of its kind in the US. In July 2015, Davis was appointed and was charged with making a local impact on human trafficking from a policy-level perspective and by advancing systems change.
6. MARY KOM
Location: Imphal, India
Why Is She Cool: Mary Kom is an Indian Olympic boxer from Manipur, India. November 2018, Kom made history as the first female boxer to win 6 World Championships, with her latest win at the tenth AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships that took place in New Delhi, India. She is the only woman to become the World Amateur Boxing champion for a record six times, and the only female boxer to have won an award in every last one of the seven big showdowns. She won gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, which incorporated the light flyweight classification just this year.
What’s Next: She dedicated her victory to India – her country. She wants to win bigger awards in the times to come and make her country proud of her accomplishments.
Cool Fun Fact: After her victory in the 6th world title, the Government of Manipur presented her the title “Meethoi Leima,” which means an extraordinary or great woman—in a felicitation service held at Imphal’s Khuman Lampak Sports Complex in December 2018. The Chief Minister of the state, N. Biren Singh additionally pronounced that the stretch of road leading the Games Village in Imphal West locale would be called as “MC Mary Kom Road”.
5. TANUSHREE DUTTA
Location: New Jersey, USA (Mumbai, India)
Why Is She Cool: Tanushree Dutta triggered a social movement in India when she came out about her own struggle with sexual assaults and spoke about Bollywood needing its own #MeToo movement. She revived a 2008 case of alleged sexual harassment by co-actor Nana Patekar. She spoke of how her complaints were brushed off by the police and she was driven out of the industry. This inspired more women within the film industry to come forth with their stories of sexual harassment and expose some pretty high-profile people who have abused their station in Bollywood. The outpour of support for Dutta and other victims took over the nation. Due to Dutta’s determined efforts Bollywood has now set up a committee to address the complaints related to sexual harassment in association with the Cine And TV Artistes’ Association (CINTAA).
What’s Next: Dutta
Cool Fun Fact: At the point when #MeToo motion overwhelmed Hollywood, various artists turned out and denounced filmmaker Harvey Weinstein. Similarly, following the nerve-racking account of Dutta, famous people approached with their #MeToo instances. Aside from Nana Patekar and other people who have been ousted as supposed predators are Alok Nath, Sajid Khan, Vikas Bahl, and Subhash Ghai.
4. HASAN MINHAJ
Location: Location: California, USA
Why Is He Cool: Indian American writer, comedian, political commentator, television host, and actor Hasan Minhaj has rocked 2018. Minhaj became the first South Asian to have his own talk show, “Patriot Act,” which aired this October on the streaming site, Netflix. He has also won a Short for his work as a Senior Correspondent on “The Daily Show.” For “Homecoming King,” Minhaj’s comedy special on Netflix, he received positive reviews and the Peabody Award in 2018. This 32-episode show discovers the modern way of living and political landscape. This year Minhaj has also acted in movies such as “Most Likely to Murder” and “The Spy Who Dumped Me.”
What’s Next: Minhaj has been instrumental in setting new standards for the talk host shows. “The Patriot Act,” his show on Netflix, is being counted among some of the new and funny talk shows.
Cool Fun Fact: One of the coolest facts about Hasan is that he is a big advocate of LGBTQ. He also used to open for well-known comedians such as Kat Williams, Gabriel Iglesias and Pablo Francisco after he won the Wild 94.9’s “Best Comic Standing” competition.
3. PRIYANKA CHOPRA
Location: Mumbai, India
Why Is She Cool: The famous Bollywood Star and former Miss World, Priyanka Chopra is always looking for ways to break through the glass ceiling. Chopra is indeed a big deal in Bollywood and now is creating her own space in Hollywood. Known best for her role of Alex Parrish on the American TV show “Quantico,” she is the first South Asian actress to lead an American series. She was one of the lucky celebs who attended Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding and has been listed in the Forbes World’s 100 Most Powerful Women. She recently married American singer and actor Nick Jonas. The news had the world buzzing about this multicultural wedding, and some criticized her for marrying someone younger than her or for using Jonas for her career. However, Jonas and Chopra haven’t wasted time on the haters, they’ve been joyously celebrating their love with family and friends. She is also spent this year working on social issues such as hunger, education, equal rights for women and is the UN’s ambassador for the global campaign – Girl Rising – for female education.
What’s Next: She began The Priyanka Chopra Foundation for Health and Education, which at present covers medicinal and educational costs for kids in India. She will be working towards making the Bumble dating app bigger in India.
Cool Fun Fact: She turned into the principal Indian actress to be highlighted in a school book. Her life is depicted in a section of Roving Families, Shifting Homes. This book is taught at Springdales School in New Delhi. This book additionally incorporates photos of her family and the minute she became the Miss World in the year 2000. In 2018, she was named one of the 500 most influential business leaders by Variety and as the world’s twelfth most appreciated woman by YouGov – the market research firm.
2. SHEIKH HASINA WAZED
Location: Dhaka, Bangladesh
Why Is She Cool: Sheikh Hasina is the current and 10th Prime Minister of Bangladesh. Hasina’s reign as PM has been marked with scandals and positive changes. Most recently she received recognition for providing temporary shelter and aid to Rohingya refugees. Hasina is the longest serving PM of Bangladesh and has been in office since 2009. She was born in East Pakistan and her father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was the first President of Bangladesh. He was assassinated along with almost his entire family in 1975. Hasina took a self-imposed exile in India until she was elected to lead the Awami League Party in 1981. From 1996-2001, she served her first term as the Prime Minister of Bangladesh and was the first since its independence to complete an entire term. Her second tenure since 2009 was marred with scandals like the Padma Bridge scandal, Hallmark-Sonali Bank scam, Share market scandal, Rana Plaza collapse, and the latest Bangladesh road safety protests in 2018.
What’s Next: Hasina recently won the elections with a historical landslide margin. announced her plan for the year-end election and assured various development projects that will be taken by her government in the capital, promising the construction of 10,000 flats for those who were living in shanties to ensure a better life for the poor.
Cool Fun Fact: In 2018, Hasina ranked 26th on Forbes’ list of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women. She also appeared in the title role in a docudrama “Hasina: A Daughter’s Tale.”
1. IMRAN KHAN
Location: Islamabad, Pakistan
Why Is He Cool: The legendary Pakistani cricketer turned politician, Imran Khan became the 22nd Prime Minister of Pakistan in 2018. He is a popular public figure, known for his cricketing career, philanthropic campaigns, and political career. Khan was born in an upper-middle-class family of Lahore. He was raised in Pakistan and later sent to the Royal Grammar School, Worcester in England, this is where Khan found his love of cricket. He finished his graduation with honors in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from Keble College, Oxford. After his retirement from cricket, Khan wrote opinion pieces in leading newspapers and journals. He went aunt to author the book “Pakistan: A Personal History.” He also had a stint with cricket commentary. During the 1990s, Khan served as UNICEF’s Special Representative for Sports and promoted health and immunization programs in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. In the 2018 general elections, his party won the largest number of seats and defeated the ruling PML-N, bringing Khan to
What’s Next: In October 2018, Khan called upon India to open dialogue over Kashmir. In December 2018, he said war is not a solution to the Kashmir issue. He later tweeted that Kashmiri’s must be allowed to decide their future. While the USA has cut down on financial aid to Pakistan, the PM of UAE has announced his intention to deposit $3 billion to The State Bank of Pakistan to support its fiscal and monetary policy.
Cool Fun Fact: He was the captain of the Pakistani cricket team which went on to win the first and only Cricket World Cup for Pakistan.
SPECIAL TRIBUTE – SRIDEVI
Bollywood legend Sridevi died in Dubai in February 2018, aged 54. For fifty of those years, she was an actor and one whose star shone brightly across Indian cinema.
Sridevi was renowned for her naturalistic acting abilities, her comic timing, and her graceful dancing skills. She was among the few female stars in Hindi cinema who could steer a movie’s commercial fate on her own merit. She starred in some of the biggest hits in the 1970s and the 90s and won acclaim for her sensitive portrayals of women thrown into challenging situations.
Her final release was Ravi Udyawar’s crime procedural “Mom” in 2017, in which she played a mother who seeks revenge for her daughter’s rape. Sridevi was the definition of ‘cool’ in Bollywood and her charming presence on-screen will be sorely missed.
GUEST APPEARANCE – TAIMUR ALI KHAN PATAUDI
He may be barely 2-years-old, but he already has an entire arena of Bollywood fans dedicated to him. Son of famous industry stars, Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor, this little munchkin has been the apple of the paparazzi’s eye from the day he was born.
If there is one celeb kid who can lift the mood of the entire nation with one infectious look and a little smile, it is none other than this kid.
Taimur has a huge fan following not only on the social media but in the real world as well. So right now he sure is the ‘coolest’ kid on the block!