Post Independence, India is blessed by great leaders both at national and regional level wherein they have impacted the road map for the country. The leaders have followed democratic values and collectively pushed the growth of the country. It is easy to be critical according to individual’s preference but there is no doubt that every one of them has a major contribution in the national building. Over the course of its magnificent history, India has been led by the most charismatic of leaders who have guided this country’s people and served as an inspiration for all of us. Let us pay tribute to 22 of them:
1. Pt. jawaharlal Nehru
The first prime Minister of India ruled a chaotic newborn country right from its independence in 1947 until his death in 1964. Nehru’s legacy is that of an extremely liberal, socialist and secular leader, who under the apprenticeship of Mahatma Gandhi, firmly put India on the course in which it runs to day. Nehru was a man of letters and is also credited with creating the Planning Commission of India. He brought scientific flare in the governance by establishing several technologically superior public sector units for comprehensive growth of the country.
2. B. R. Ambedkar
One of the greatest personalities ever born in India, Ambedkar was a jurist, political leader, philosopher, anthropologist, historian, revolutionary, writer and much more. He was a revolutionary leader and held forth on his views even if they went against the popular grain. He also revived Buddhism in India, a legacy still seen in Dalit communities, who’s cause Ambedkar championed throughout his life. Ambedkar is also known as the Father of the Indian Constitution, on behalf of which the nation celebrated Republic Day.
3. Atal Behari Vajpayee
The recipient of the Bharat Ratna & Padma vibhushan, he is one of the most respected political leaders in India’s history. He remains the only prime minister to serve a full term outside the Congress Party, the record likely to be broken by current PM of India. vajpayee was known to be a liberal within the BJP, a party with extreme right views. He fearlessly led the nuclear tests to establish India a powerful nation and focused on building state of art infrastructure to facilitate rapid economic growth.
4. Lal Bahadur Shastri
Filling the boots of Jawaharlal Nehru was never going to be an easy task, but Lal Bahadur Shastri did just that, and with elan. He gave India a slogan ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisaan’ and worked extensively for farmer sector in India in continuation of Nehru’s socialist policies. India’s decisive victory in the war against Pakistan in 1965 while he was Prime Minister elevated the country’s mood after its defeat to China earlier and turned him into a hero to cherish forever.
5. Indira gandhi
Indira Gandhi served as a Prime Minister for 11 years and is credited for initiating the Green Revolution in India. The only child of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira wielded a lot of influence in the Congress Party and the sentiments of the public. She was known to be ruthless during her term as Prime Minister that lifted India out of a policy quagmire and firmly placed the development of the country on the fast track. A controversial figure because of the Emergency and subsequent assassination in the aftermath of Operation Blue Star, Indira was named as India’s greatest Prime Minister at the turn of the century.
6. Sardar vallabhbhai Patel
India was not inherited as a whole piece of land upon In- dependence. It was divided into princely states whose leaders demanded uncontrolled privileges or sought to remain as neutral territories. Dealing with each of them sternly and firmly earned Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel the sobriquet of India’s Iron Man. He also established the civil services division in Indian administration.
7. Subhash Chandra Bose
Though he served as a member of the Indian National Congress only for a small duration, he had a great impact on the country’s armed forces. One of the few leaders who supported armed revolt to overthrow British rule in India, Bose even formed an army that reported to him called Indian National Army and sought the support of Japan to defeat Britishers in the country. Although his Army failed to directly drive out the British, former Britain PM Clement Atlee conceded that Bose’s activities played a major role in the withdrawal of Britain from India.
8. Dr. Rajendra Prasad
Rajendra Prasad was the first President of independent India. He is also considered to be one of the architects of India’s Republic and also served as the president of India’s Constituent Assembly. Prasad is credited with being bipartisan and acting on merit. He is still the only President to have been elected for the President’s position twice.
9. APJ Abdul kalam
The man with the frizzy hair and India’s favorite grandpa, APJ Abdul Kalam was one of the most proactive President of recent times. He is also known as People’s President and India’s Missile Man for advancing India’s ballistic missile programs. Known for championing youth causes’, Kalam also launched the “What Can I Give movement in 2011” to defeat corruption and realize his life goal of turning India into a developed country by 2020.
10. N.T.rama rao
N.T. Rama Rao, popularly known as NTR, served as CM of Andhra Pradesh for three terms riding on the back of his immensely successful films, in which he mostly played deities Rama and Krishna. His portrayal of mythological characters translated into record wins from audiences when he decided to turn into a politician by founding the Telugu Desam Party. NTR was known to be passionate about the Andhra cause, equal rights for women and introduced many populist schemes for his state. He was an astute politician and was also involved in forming the National Front that ruled the country from 1989 to 1991 under which the Mandal Commission’s recommendation of implementing 27 per cent reservations for OBCs was implemented.
11. dadabhai Naoroji
One of the earliest political leaders of India, he was also involved in business like cotton trading. He was also one of India’s early educationists and sought to clear concepts of Zoroastrianism amongst the local populace in Bombay. Naoroji was also a Member of Parliament (MP) in the House of Commons between 1892 and 1895 in the UK, becoming the first Asian to be a British MP.
12. jyoti Basu
Jyoti Basu holds the record for serving as the longest chief minister of any state in India after holding that post in power from 1977 to 2000 in West Bengal as a CPI(M) politician. He was also one of India’s most well-known atheists. Basu designed the land reform plan in India and initiated panchayati raj for farmers in West Bengal. Never one to follow Communism by the book, Basu made it his mission to give the lower strata of society its due and always upheld communal harmony.
13. M. G. Ramachandran
M. G. Ramachandran, or MGR for his fans, was one of the most influential politicians in Tamil Nadu. MGR was a superstar actor in Tamil films and joined the Congress party after being influenced by Gandhian values. He later joined the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and became as popular in the party as he was among his film fans. In 1972 he formed his own party called Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and riding on his popularity emerged as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu in 1977 and remained so until his death in 1987. He was known for his focus on education and the earliest proponents of midday meals that incentivized children to attend schools. MGR was also known for his philanthropic activities. The frenzy and looting that followed his death remains unparalleled to this day and is a testament to his popularity.
14. Rajiv gandhi
One of the most dashing leaders the country has ever seen, Rajiv was the man behind diminishing the License Raj, gave a push to science and technology and also introduced the telecommunication revolution in India. He took office as Prime Minister of India at the age of 40 after his mother Indira was assassinated in 1984. In the elections held immediately thereafter, the Congress party won an unprecedented 411 seats out of 542 across the country. Known to be a patron of arts, Rajiv also introduced INTACH in 1984 to preserve India’s rich heritage.
15. Manmohan Singh
Manmohan Singh may be a much reviled figure today but no one deny his contribution in lifting the country out of an economic morass in 1991 by opening up the economy. The transformation from socialism and capitalism was a long time coming and Manmohan ensured that the transition went off smoothly. Under his leadership, India achieved the US $ 1 trillion economy milestone. The strong growth recorded by the country over the past few years must go to Manmohan and team.
16. Zakir Hussain
Dr Zakir Hussain was the first Muslim President of India and the founder of Jamia Milia Islamia, one of India’s most recognized university. His dedication to education and efforts to keep Jamia Milia Islamia running even under dire circumstances earned him praise from unexpected quarters, including arch rival Mohammed Ali Jinnah.
17. P. V. Narasimha rao
Narasimha Rao was the Prime Minister when Manmohan Singh opened up the economy in 1991, a role for which he is known as the Father of Indian Economic Reforms. He also introduced computer based trading system of the National Stock Exchange in 1994 and encouraged FDI inflows into the country to revive its flagging economy. He also took important decisions that strengthened the internal security of the country. An astute politician, he passed several important laws through a mixture of cunning and guile even though he headed a minority government.
18. Morarji desai
India’s first non Congress Prime Minister, Morarji Desai was the architect of India’s nuclear program. A strict follower of Gandhi’s non-violence movement, his peace overtures were so successful that Desai remains the only politician to have received Pakistan’s highest civilian award Nishan-e-Pakistan from President Ghulam Ishaq Khan. Desai is also credited with promoting social, health and administrative reforms in the country.
19. Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi has the power to divide opinions into two polar opposites. If you see him as the force behind the 2002 riots in Gujarat then you will have to turn a willful blind eye to the economic prosperity and sense of pride he has infused in his community. His supporters call him a tightfisted leader while his detractors call him a mild dictator. Whichever way you look at it, Modi’s legacy in politics is here to stay. Post historic victory in the GE2014, Narendra Modi has gone strength to strength. The international community has embraced Modi globally and he is the most popular political figure in India. Modi’s clean image and commitment to work has made him an exception in a messy political climate of India.
210 jayaprakash Narayan
Jayaprakash Narayan has been an important leader who first came into prominence for opposing Indira Gandhi at the height of her powers. In 1974, he called for a peaceful Total Revolution after leading a students’ movement in Bihar. Although he never became a force to reckon with within politics, Narayan was the first leader who commanded huge crowds for his political stands, a position that was taken over by Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwalrecently.
21. Nitish kumar
One of the cleanest ministers to emerge out of Bihar in recent times, Nitish Kumar, a protégé of Jayaprakash Narayan, is also known as an efficient taskmaster. Under his rule, the state recovered from massive economic collapse and powerful corruption. Kumar fast tracked development projects, appointed over lakh teachers to improve education standards and most importantly, brought crime under control in Bihar, a state long known for its lawlessness. Bihar is slowly turning a corner with migrants from the state eager to take part in the success story created under Kumar’s rule.
22. Subramanium Swamy
Dr Swamy is an economist, mathematician and politician who served as a Member of Parliament in Rajya Sabha. He was President of the Janta Party until it merged with BJP. Swamy has served as member of the planning commission of India and was a cabinet minister in the Chandra Shekhar government. Earlier in Nov 1978, Swamy was member of the Group of Eminent persons and was called to Geneva Switzerland to prepare a report of the United Nations on Economic Cooperation between developing countries. In 1994, Swamy was appointed as Chairman of the Commission on Labor standards and international trade by former Prime Minister of India P.V. Narsimha Rao. He has written on foreign affairs largely on People Republic of China, Pakistan and Israel. In the recent past, Swamy has taken a new avatar of anti corruption crusader wherein he is fighting mega scams namely 2G, Coalgate, National herald case, Jayalaitha case, Nataraja Temple case, Ayodhya temple case: his role is applauded by all Indians and NRI community abroad.
(Compiled by Opinion Express News Services through internet poll conducted by our online team)