Guide to 70 visionaries who defined and shaped modern India
India Today's special issue, second in series, celebrating 70 years of India’s Independence.
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A pracharak who became one of India’s most inclusive prime ministers, running a successful coalition. Another pracharak who came to power in a historic election which redefined campaigning. A visionary prime minister whose daughter, also a prime minister, changed the way politics was conducted.
A musician who took the sitar to the world, a yogi who made transcendental meditation a global brand, a Carnatic musician - daughter of a devadasi - whose bhajan moved Mahatma Gandhi to tears. A princess who founded institutions dedicated to healthcare, sport and women’s rights.
An entrepreneur who taught India that creating wealth was most egalitarian; a batsman who convinced a nation it could win in cricket; and an actor whose fear of failure makes his work ethic inspirational and renders him relevant in every era.
India Today cover story, Movers and Shakers: 70 Visionaries Who Defined India, for September 25, 2017.
India’s history is made of these iconic men and women. Their struggles have underlined the national narrative, redefined its history. They are movers and shakers because they transformed the status quo. They were and are change agents who altered the world, nation, society, the arts, the game.
So the Father of the Nation gave the world a new mantra of non-violence for freedom and gave India its Independence. A dynamic engineer metamorphosed a struggling cooperative into a thriving national enterprise and created a White Revolution in the country. A humble yarn agent created a new shareholding class in the country and changed the stock markets. A quiet, social activist gave women a sense of dignity by empowering them to recognise the worth of their work. A bureaucrat effortlessly changed metropolitan transport by building underground trains in cities.
There are, of course, many more - politicians, economists, scientists, artists, sportstars - who have come to define India as we know it.
India Today’s "70 Movers and Shakers", the second in our series celebrating 70 years of India’s Independence, may not be telling the complete story of post-Independence India, but they tell a substantial slice. The first special issue in our 70 Years series recognised the contribution of 70 institutions responsible for building India.
This special issue tells the story of men and women who have had great opportunities, faced enormous challenges and overcame impossible adversities. Any selection of changemakers and rule-breakers from the pantheon of India’s icons is what historian Sunil Khilnani calls “an exercise designed to provoke”. But India Today has assembled an array of fine writers to assess, explain and amplify the essence of these 70 men and women. The writers vary from those who have worked closely with their subjects to those who have studied them at length. The profiles are accompanied by marvellous illustrations which bring out their personalities. The result: sometimes intimate, always informative pen portraits of 70 remarkable lives in a collector’s issue.
For 70 years, India has been witness to traumas, triumphs and tragedies. It is a million mutinies now, but it is also a million possibilities. Its story can never fully be told. It is a nation in conversation with itself, as it sizes up its pantheon of icons every few years. Sometimes it shrinks them, at other times it rediscovers them. The greatness of its soul lies in its constant search and its eternal journey. Where even death is not the end. Nayantara Sahgal writes of what poet Sarojini Naidu said when she saw a man weeping upon hearing that Gandhi had died: “Would you rather he died old and decrepit in his bed? This was the only death good enough for him.” A blinding insight and many more in this issue.
It makes me proud that India was shaped by such inspirational personalities. I am sure you will feel the same.
(India Today Editor-in-Chief's note for cover story, Movers and Shakers: 70 Visionaries Who Defined India; September 25, 2017.)