Monday, September 25, 2023

Female Famous Personalities of India

In a history spanning several centuries, India has been blessed with some female famous personalities of India. These extraordinary females have not only made their presence felt in the male-dominated world but also shattered gender stereotypes and made this world a better place to live. As role models, they continue to inspire generations of women folks to beat the odds and go for the stars. Let’s trace their remarkable journeys in different categories, one at a time.

12 Female Famous Personalities of India – Celebrating Women’s Power 


Politics has largely been a male-dominated field but a few inspiring females have asserted themselves and left their imprints. From cabinet minister to prime minister, they have graced big offices and contributed to India’s socioeconomic and cultural development.

1. Indira Gandhi: “The Iron Lady”

Indira Gandhi

  • DOB: 19 November 1917
  • Birthplace: Prayagraj, (present-day Uttar Pradesh)
  • Assassinated: 31 October 1984, New Delhi
  • Offices: Prime Minister, Minister of External Affairs of India & more
  • Children: Rajiv Gandhi, Sanjay Gandhi
  • Parents: Jawaharlal Nehru, Kamala Nehru
  • Spouse: Feroze Gandhi (m. 1942–1960)

Born in an affluent family on 19 November 1917, Indira was destined for greatness. Mentored by Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore, she started as a young freedom fighter and became the president of Congress in the late 1950s. Later, she made her way into the Rajya Sabha and served as the Minister of Information and Broadcasting in Lal Bahadur Shashtri’s cabinet.

She became the overall 3rd and the first and only female Prime Minister India ever had. It was under her prime ministership that India conducted its first nuclear test. Besides merging Sikkim into India, she even led the nation into the 1971 war and created a new country, Bangladesh, from East Pakistan. You can even attribute the green revolution to her, which helped boost agriculture and reduce hunger. “If India’s warehouses are overloaded with grain today, much of the credit must go to Indira Gandhi.”

However, Indira had her share of controversies, notably the imposition of an emergency in 1975, which crippled democracy. She also attracted criticism for Operation Blue Star.


For some, Mrs. Gandhi was a visionary leader who led India during tough times. While for others, she was an authoritarian and populist leader. Glorify or vilify her but you cannot deny her impact on India’s politics and culture, which makes her one of the most female famous personalities of India. Rather, in a BBC poll in 1999, she was voted the “Greatest Woman of the Past 1,000 Years”. Even Time magazine placed her among the “100 Women Who Defined the Last Century.”

Notable Awards:

  • Bharat Ratna (1971)
  • Lenin Peace Prize
  • Bangladesh Freedom Honour (2011)
  • Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding

2. Sarojini Naidu: The Nightingale of India

Sarojini Naidu

  • Born As: Sarojini Chattopadhyay
  • DOB: 13 February 1879
  • Birthplace: Hyderabad, Hyderabad State, India
  • Died: 2 March 1949 (aged 70)
  • Spouse: Govindarajulu Naidu ​(m. 1898)​
  • Education: Cambridge University, Girton College, Cambridge
  • Occupation: Political activist, poet
  • Nicknames: “Nightingale of India” & “Bharat Kokila”

Lending her voice to India’s aspirations, Sarojini Naidu was called, “Bharat Kokila” by none other than Mahatma Gandhi who was mesmerized by her voice, lyrics, and imagery. A poet, playwright, freedom fighter, patriot, diplomat, and advocate for women’s rights – she was a lady of many parts. She was born to a scientist father, Aghorenath Chattopadhyay, and a poetess mother, Barada Sundari Devi in Hyderabad on February 13, 1879.

Suggested Viewing:

When it comes to “firsts,” she had many to her credit. She became the first woman president of the Indian National Congress. in 1925 when she took over from Mahatma Gandhi at the Kanpur session. In 1947, she was appointed as India’s first woman ambassador to the United Nations and later went on to preside over the UN General Assembly. And, from 15 August 1947 to 2 March 1949, she served as the governor of the United Provinces (modern-day Uttar Pradesh), becoming the first woman to do so.

Upon completing her education, she jumped into the Indian nationalist movement. Her participation in the 1930 Salt March even earned her jail time. She was also a prominent leader in other mass movements, notably the Civil Disobedience Movement and the Quit India Movement. As a poet, she made her debut in 1912 with “In the Bazaars of Hyderabad,”. We also remember her as a playwright of “Harvest Song,” which conveyed social messages and highlighted pressing issues of her time.


We remember Sarojini Naidu as one of the leading famous female personalities of India with an immeasurable influence on the literary and political spheres. India celebrates her birthday, 13 February, as the National Women’s Day. The Palomar Observatory in 1990 even named an asteroid after her.


  • 1905: The Golden Threshold
  • 1915: The Bird of Time: Songs of Life, Death & the Spring
  • 1917: The Broken Wing: Songs of Love, Death, and the Spring
  • 1919: “The Song of the Palanquin Bearers,” lyrics by Naidu and music by Martin Shaw
  • 1920: The Speeches and Writings of Sarojini Naidu
  • 1922: Editor, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, An Ambassador of Unity: His Speeches & Writings 1912–1917, with a biographical “Pen Portrait” of Jinnah by Naidu
  • 1948: The Sceptred Flute: Songs of India
  • 1961: The Feather of the Dawn, edited by Padmaja Naidu


Kaisar-e-Hind medal in 1913, which she returned as a protest against the Jalianwalabag massacre.

3. Lakshmi Sahgal: The Warrior Healer

Lakshmi Sahgal

  • Born As: Lakshmi Swaminathan
  • DOB: 24 October 1914
  • Birthplace: Anakkara, Malabar District, (present-day Kerala)
  • Died: 23 July 2012 (aged 97)
  • Education: MBBS from Madras Medical College
  • Occupation: Doctor, Military Leader, Independence activist, & Politician
  • Spouses: P. K. N. Rao ​(before 1940)​ & Prem Kumar Sahgal

Lakshmi Swaminathan Sahgal comes across as a versatile personality. She was a medical doctor by profession who went on to lead an all-female combat unit Rani Jhansi Regiment. of the Azad Hind Fauj. Captain Lakshmi even served as the Minister of Women’s Affairs in Subash Chandra Bose-led Azad Hind Sarkar.

Social activism and love for the country ran in her blood, as her mother, A.V Ammukutty, (22 April 1894 – 4 July 1978) was a social worker, freedom fighter, political activist, and a member of the Constituent Assembly of India. She went to the prestigious Madras Medical College for her MBBS and later moved to Singapore to practice medicine. Captain Sahgal joined the Indian Independence League (IIL) and later became a prominent member of Azad Hind Fauj in 1943.

Captain Sahgal continued to be active in political and social causes after India achieved independence. Be it the refugee crisis after partition or the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, she reached out to the victims with medical help. In 2002, she ran for the position of President of India as an independent candidate but lost to Dr. APJ Abul Kalam.


When she was taken as a prisoner of war in Burma, her rank was that of a Captain. The title stuck with her, as we still lovingly remember her as “Captain” Lakshmi. As a practitioner, she saw patients in her Kanpur Clinic even at the age of 92.


Lakshmi Sahgal’s life and contributions serve as an inspiration to us all. She is a national hero who fought for freedom and continued to champion humanitarian causes in the post-independence India. She passed away on July 23, 2012, leaving behind a legacy of courage and dedication to the cause of freedom and justice. Add to it her indomitable spirit and kind heart, and she comes across as one of the most famous female personalities of India. In her own words, “The fight will go on.”


  • Padma Vibhushan by Indian President K. R. Narayanan in 1998
  • Honorary Doctorate from the University of Calicut in 2010

Suggested Reading:

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Female Famous Personalities of India: Sports

Some female famous personalities of India have enjoyed or continue to enjoy inspirational sporting careers. Be it a cricket pitch, wrestling mat, badminton court, or boxing ring, they have ruled it all with skills and grit. They continue to break records and bring home glory, which makes them sporting icons and an inspiration for budding sportswomen. If an increasing number of females are taking up sports as a career, it’s because of them.

4. Mary Kom: Magnificent Mary

Mary Kom

  • Born As: Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom (MC Mary Kom)
  • BOD: March 1, 1982
  • Birthplace: Kangathei, Manipur, India
  • Sport: Boxing
  • Weight Class: Flyweight (51 kg)

When it comes to female famous personalities of India in the sports category, it is hard to look beyond Mary. Born in a small, remote village in Manipur to a family of peasants, Mary, inspired by Dingko Singh’s success, chose a career in boxing, without telling her parents. It was only when Mary claimed the state boxing championship in 2000 that her father knew about her boxing career.

Mary has many “firsts” to her name. She is the first and only female to claim the World Amateur Boxing Championship 6 times, the first female boxer to claim a medal in every 7 editions of the World Championships, and the first boxer to win a gold medal in the 2014 Asian Games and a gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Save for Mary, no other male or female boxer has, thus far, claimed eight World Championship medals. However, her crowning glory is the Olympic Bronze.


A female boxer catching the attention of a cricket-obsessed nation was unheard of until Mary came along. Even after a baby, she made a strong comeback, which reflects her grit and passion. As she herself puts it, “Don’t give up as there is always a next time.”.

National Awards:

  • Padma Vibhushan (Sports), 2020
  • Padma Bhushan (Sports), 2013
  • Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award, 2009
  • Padma Shri (Sports), 2006
  • Arjuna Award (Boxing), 2003

5. PV Sindhu: The Ace Shuttler

PV Sindhu

  • Born As: Pusarla Venkata Sindhu
  • DOB: July 5, 1995
  • Birthplace: Hyderabad, (then Andhra Pradesh), India
  • Sport: Badminton
  • Handedness: Right-handed

While her parents were national-level volleyball players, Sindhu picked up badminton as a hobby at an early age. Impressed by the All-England Champion, Pullela Gopichand, she decided to turn her hobby into a career. Until his death in 2011, Mahboob Ali coached and mentored Sindhu. Later, she got an opportunity to be coached by her ideal, Gopichand, who unleashed the champion in her.

After making her international debut in 2009 at 14, Sindhu went to smash records and win titles. She is the only female to claim an Olympic silver (2016 Rio Olympics) and then an Olympic bronze (2020 Tokyo Olympics). The shuttler even claimed three silver medals on the trot in official tournaments. No one except Lee Chong Wei has ever done that.


Sindhu’s legacy is one of resilience and hard work. According to Gopichand, “The fact that she reports on time at the coaching camps daily, traveling a distance of 56 km from her residence, is perhaps a reflection of her willingness to complete her desire to be a good badminton player with the required hard work and commitment.”

National Awards:

  • Arjuna Award (2013)
  • Padma Shri, the fourth-highest civilian award in India (2015)
  • Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, the highest sporting honor in India (2016)
  • Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian award in India (2020)

6. Smriti Mandhana: Charm, Skills & Attitude

Smriti Mandhana

  • Born As: Smriti Shriniwas Mandhana
  • DOB: 18 July 1996 (age 27)
  • Birthplace: Bombay, Maharashtra
  • Sport: Cricket (Left-Hand Opener)

At 16, when most teenagers are figuring out what to do with their lives, Smriti made her international debut. Before turning 20, she scored a World Cup ton, and a double ton in a domestic encounter, and became the second Indian to play a foreign T20 league. Now 27, Mandhana is one of the world’s best top-order batswomen, and the captain of the Indian T20 team and Royal Challengers Banglore Women’s team.


India Women Brisbane Heat Women Trailblazers
Western Storm Hobart Hurricanes Women India B Women
Southern Brave Women Sydney Thunder Women Royal Challengers Bangalore Women


Smriti Mandhana stands tall as a role model for aspiring women cricketers, inspiring them to work hard, stay focused, and chase their dreams.

National Awards

  • Arjuna Award for Cricket


  • Rachael Heyhoe Flint Award for the ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year for 2018 & 2021
  • The International Woman Cricketer of the Year Award 2019
  • Youngest T20I captain for India
  • ODI Player of the Year by the ICC 2018
  • Only Indian player to be named in the ICC Women’s Team of the Year 2016

Female Famous Personalities of India: Arts & Cinema

Many female famous personalities of India have dazzled their way to success in the world of arts and cinema. From the silver screen to theaters, these exceptional women have thrilled us with their charm and talent.

7. Lata Mangeshkar: The Voice of India

Lata Mangeshkar

  • Born As: Hema Mangeshkar
  • DOB: 28 September 1929
  • Died: 6 February 2022 (aged 92)
  • Birthplace: Indore, Indore State, (present-day Madhya Pradesh)
  • Occupations: Playback singer, composer, film producer
  • Years active: 1942–2022

If India had a voice, it would be Lata Mangeshkar’s. Once legendary actor Dilip Kumar famously said, “Lata Mangeshkar’s voice is a miracle from God“. But Lataji, in all her humbleness, later “replied”, “My singing wasn’t some miracle, and whatever happened was God’s will.”. How’s that for humility?

Born as Hema Mangeshkar, Lataji enjoyed a long prolific career (1942–2022) as a playback singer, stage performer, composer, and movie producer. She lent her voice to over 50,000 songs in 14 languages, including Hindi, Marathi, and Bangla, according to India Today.

Whether you are feeling low or in a mood to celebrate, there’s a Lata Mangeshkar song you can tune to. Her voice transcends time and touches the deepest emotions, and her songs are the ultimate soundtrack of our lives. As she once famously said, “Every song I sing is a piece of me, a reflection of my emotions and experiences.”

Call her the “Queen of Melody”, “Nightingale of India”, or the “Voice of the Millennium”, Lataji stands tall as the most celebrated music icon India has ever produced. National and international awards and recognitions have also come thick and fast for her, including India’s highest civilian honor, Bharat Ratna. No wonder, she just walks into our list of the female famous personalities of India.


In her 7-decade-long career, Lataji had a profound impact on Indian culture and society. Besides her divine voice, we remember her for humility and grace, her exemplary devotion to her craft, and her pursuit of excellence. As Waheeda Rehman puts it, “Her voice had magic but behind that magic was a lot of hard work and determination. She would rehearse and rehearse so much.”

National Awards:

  • Bharat Ratna (2001)
  • Padma Bhushan (1969)
  • Padma Vibhushan (1999)
  • Dadasaheb Phalke Award (1989)

Youtube: Lata Mangeshkar Interview with Javed Akhtar | Lata Mangeshkar Latest News | CNN News18 Live

8. Priyanka Chopra: “Miss” Ruling the “World

Priyanka Chopra

  • DOB: 18 July 1982 (age 41)
  • Birthplace: Jamshedpur, Bihar (present-day Jharkhand), India
  • Occupations: Actress, model, singer, producer
  • Years Active: 2002–present
  • Nicknames: Pri, Piggy Chops, Mithu, Mimi

A model-turned-actor, Priyanka Chopra Jonas has enjoyed a roller-coaster ride. She shot to fame with the Miss World 2000 title and, like most beauty queens, moved to acting. While other beauty pageant winners faded into oblivion, Priyanka achieved resounding success, first in Bollywood and then in Hollywood. At her peak, she was the highest-paid actress and a proud recipient of Padma Shri, two National Film Awards, and five Filmfare Awards.

She made her Hollywood debut with Baywatch opposite Dwayne Johnson but the American audiences took notice of her in ABC’s Quantico. No other South Asian actress ever played a lead role in an American series before Priyanka. Priyanka made her way into TIME’s list of 100 Most Influential People in 2016, Forbes World’s 100 Most Powerful Women, and the BBC 100 Women list.

Presently, she is married to American actor and musician Nick Jonas and the couple has recently adopted a girl. Priyanka’s cutest moments with her daughter Malti are taking social media by storm.


No one in the current generation of actors represents women empowerment like Priyanka. She is a symbol of courage, change, and feminism. As she once said, “When I think about being the woman I want to be, I just want to be the best version of myself. And I use every opportunity that comes my way in that direction.”

Notable Awards:

  • Padma Shri 2016
  • 2 National Film Awards
  • 5 Filmfare Awards

Youtube: Priyanka Chopra Jonas on experiencing racism: ‘It hits you every time’

9. M. S. Subbulakshmi: “Queen of Music”

M. S. Subbulakshmi

  • Born As: Kunjamma
  • DOB: 16 September 1916
  • Birthplace: Madurai, Tamil Nadu
  • Died: 11 December 2004
  • Occupation: Carnatic singer

M.S. Subbulakshmi was a traditional classical singer who sang like an angel”. MS was a child prodigy. She released her first recording at 10, performed at the prestigious Madras Music Academy at 13, and started performing solo at 17.

Music was in her genes, as her mother and first Guru, Shanmukhavadivu, was a Sitarist, and her grandmother, Akkammal, was a violinist. Her album, “Venkateswara Suprabhatam” is a spiritual masterpiece, and her “Vande Mataram” is one of the most iconic renditions of the national song.

Her list of “firsts” is extensive. No Indian female musician before her received the Bharat Ratna (1998), Sangeetha Kalanidhi (1968), or the Ramon Magsaysay Award. She was also the first to perform at the Edinburgh International Festival of Music and Drama (1963) and at the UN General Assembly on UN Day (1966). A performance at the historic Festival of India in Moscow in 1987 was another highlight of her prolific career.

Like Lata Mangeshkar, she also acted in a few Tamil movies in her younger days. Her debut flick, “Sevasadanam,” hit the theaters in 1938 while her more successful venture “Savitri” was released in 1941. Interestingly, she portrayed “Narada,” a male saint in the movie, and the profits from the movie helped her husband start “Kalki,” a nationalist Tamil weekly.


Jawaharlal Nehru, after attending Subbulakshmi’s stage performance, exclaimed, “Oh! Who am I? A mere Prime Minister before the queen of song.“ That sums up her talent, stature, and legacy.

Notable Awards:

  • Bharat Ratna
  • Padma Bhushan
  • Padma Vibhushan
  • Ramon Magsaysay Award
  • Sangeet Natak Akademi Award

Suggested Viewing: Biography of M S Subbulakshmi, Indian Carnatic Singer & Nightingale of India #BharatRatna

Female Famous Personalities of India: Entrepreneurs

From tech moguls to industry disruptors, some female personalities of India have made it big in the business world. They not only created business empires and amassed fortunes but also shattered glass ceilings and rewritten the rules of success. Let’s celebrate the success of these exceptional female entrepreneurs who are making India proud.

10. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

Kiran Mazumdar

  • DOB: 23 March 1953 (age 70)
  • Birthplace: Bangalore, Mysore State, India
  • Active Years: 1978 – to present
  • Education: Bangalore University (B.Sc.) & Melbourne University (M.S.)
  • Occupation: Entrepreneur (Founder & Chairperson of Biocon)

For Financial Times, Kiran was one of the top 50 Women in Business (2011) while Forbes ranked her 68th on the list of the Most Powerful Woman in the World in 2019. Even EY World proclaimed her Entrepreneur Of The Year in 2020. She is a recipient of the Othmer Gold Medal for outstanding contributions to the progress of science and chemistry.

At 23, Kiran became an entrepreneur when she came up with Biocon India in 1978. What started in a garage with an investment of INR 10,000 went on to become India’s largest biopharma company. It was Kiran’s leadership, vision, and belief in “affordable innovation” that helped Biocon achieve a market cap of 319.75 billion and a strong presence in several countries.

As for the founder, Kiran stands tall as India’s richest self-made woman with a net worth of US$ 2.5 billion.


She was quick to use “India’s homegrown scientific talent to make breakthroughs in clinical research.” Thanks to her, poor people in less-wealthy countries can now access high-quality medicines at low cost. That’s some legacy.

Suggested Viewing: Kiran Mazumdar Shaw: A Leading Woman in Science Making Global Impact

11. Radhika Agarwal: The Unicorn Girl

Radhika Agarwal


  • Born As: Radhika Ghai
  • Birthplace: Chandigarh, India
  • Education: Washington University (MBA in advertising and public relations)
  • Title: Co-founder and Chief Business Office Shopclues

Born as Radhika Ghai, she created history when Shopclues, which she co-founded in 2011 with her better half, Sandeep Aggarwal, and a friend, Sanjay Sethi, entered the prestigious Unicorn Club in 2016. Radhika was the first Indian female to achieve the feat that too in an intensely competitive market dominated by the likes of Flipkart and Amazon India. She drew upon her vast experience in e-commerce, lifestyle, fashion, and retail to help Shopclues grow and evolve.

Radhika went to Washington University in St. Louis for her MBA and later completed an executive program at Stanford University. But before that, she assisted her father in his fitness venture and even started an advertising agency in her hometown, Chandigarh. Upon finishing her education, she joined some prestigious institutions, such as Nordstrom (Seattle) and Goldman Sachs. Currently, she is serving as the Chief Business Officer (CBO) at Shopclues.


Radhika is a role model for aspiring businesswomen and entrepreneurs in India who wish to make it big despite the odds. As one of the most famous female personalities of India, she is recognized for her leadership, customer-friendly approach, and contributions to the Indian e-commerce industry. She has emerged as the symbol of women’s empowerment and a champion of women’s causes.

According to her, “The best way I deal with this is to avoid gender-based discrimination in the first place. Our women employees know I have their back, and that they are at par with our male employees, with many of them in the leadership team.”

Awards and Recognitions:

  • Outlook Business Woman of Worth at Outlook Business Awards – 2016
  • Woman Entrepreneur of the Year at Entrepreneur India Awards – 2016
  • Exemplary Woman Entrepreneur of the Year at CMO Asia Awards – 2016
  • CEO of the Year Award at CEO India Awards – 2016
  • ASSOCHAM’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award – 2017

12. Vineeta Singh: The Marathon Entrepreneur

Vineeta Singh

  • YOB: 1983 (age 40)
  • Birthplace: Anand, Gujarat, India
  • Education: IIT Madras, IIM Ahmedabad
  • Title: Founder Sugar Cosmetics
  • Spouse: Kaushik Mukherjee (m. 2011)

She might not be the biggest female entrepreneur. However, when it comes to the most famous female personalities of India, she is right there. Vineeta is the founder of Sugar Cosmetics, a beauty startup with a valuation of $100M in February 2021. Businessworld and Fortune rate her among the 40 entrepreneurs Under 40 while the World Economic Forum places her in the Young Global Leadership list.

However, Vineeta’s claim to fame is her status as a judge on the famous reality show, Shark Tank India. Audiences love her straightforward and down-to-earth approach, sharp business sense, and sympathy for pitchers. She started her entrepreneurial journey in 2007 with Quetzal, a background verification service. When it failed, she founded Fab-Bag, which also could not generate traction. Finally, she ended up founding Sugar Cosmetics with her better half.


Vineeta is also a triathlete and ultramarathon runner, having taken part in 20 marathons, ultramarathons, and 12 half-marathons. She even participated in a 21-km Mumbai Marathon in 2018 during her 6 months of pregnancy.


Having built a multi-million dollar business ground up, she reminds us of the value of hard work, persistence, and focus. Her initial business ventures failed miserably but, undeterred, she moved ahead until success came calling. She faced sexism time and again but never took it lying down.

Recalling an incident, she said, “When I was doing my internship at ITC, there was a time when I was told that the jeans and the tight tops that I wear to the factory are not okay. Times have really changed. I think today people would not have the guts to say these things to your face.” She is undoubtedly one of the ambassadors of change.

Awards and Recognitions:

  • Start-up of the Year Award by Entrepreneur Awards, Delhi (2019)
  • W-Power Award by Forbes India (2021).
  • BW Disrupt 40 Under 40 Award by Businessworld (2021).
  • Fortune’s 40 Under 40 (2021).
  • World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leadership list (2022)

Suggested Viewing:


India has been blessed with some exceptional female famous personalities who have made significant contributions to diverse fields. Politics, arts, cinema, social reform, and sports, you name it. Such females deserve acknowledgment for the way they broke barriers and charted their own course despite the odds. Their legacies continue to shine brightly, inspiring generations of women to chase their dreams. Their success stories are a reminder that gender is no barrier.

For more such inspiring stories, stay tuned to Duniakagyan. Feel free to use the space below to post your comments, suggestions, and feedback. Hearing from you inspires us to keep the good work going.

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Rohit Kumar
Rohit Kumar
Passionate about content quality and attention to detail, Rohit has penned over 15,000 copies for some of the leading online and offline publications in his eight-year career. Currently heading the content team at Dunia Ka Gyan, he believes in team spirit, ingenuity, and reader satisfaction.

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