In my opinion, these guys are the freedom fighters of modern India - they've liberated more Indians than anyone since Mahatma Gandhi and his band of brothers.
Sachin made us proud to be Indian. He enabled us to strut with chins up. Look Aussies and Englishmen in the eye. What a player. His lustre is much diminished now, yes, but let us never forget what he did, and how he made a difference in our lives. Thanks to him, we now have the incredible Dhoni, the dashing Yuvraj and the sensational Sehwag.
Kunjumon and A.R.Rahman, with Gentleman, suddenly made it hip to sway to teh_local flava. In my memory, 'ChikkuBukku Raile' was the first Indian movie song that hipsters weren't afraid to play in their cars and at their parties. It started a revolution - today, only n00bs and sn0bs insist that 'western' stuff is better somehow than out film grooves. Kunjumon faded away, thankfully, but ARR (no, not the Paaku), continues to make us proud. No longer are Indian language movies and music uncool - it's rather dramatically the other way around. The 'Peters' are the new nerdwads, the infra-digs, the losers.
Their contribution is way more important than is immediately obvious.
Thanks to the floodgates they opened, the average Indian on the street is confident, walks with a swagger. It's an amazing transformation - plainly visible to anyone who grew up earlier than the late eighties.
How crucial is this, in the view of India's place in the emerging new world order?
Give the gentlemen their medals. They do a lot more for India's freedom in today's world than many of our supposed leaders (Dr.Singh an honourable exception, of course)