New York: Indian political geniuses
Mahatma Gandhi and Emperor Akbar have been listed among the
`Top 25 Political Icons` of all time by TIME magazine, along
with Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and Mao Zedong,
the father of modern China.
Released on the 100th birth anniversary of the late US
President Ronald Reagan, the TIME list figures names like the
great conqueror Alexander the Great and some of history`s most
polarising figures like Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.
Gandhi`s experiments with satyagraha -- the genesis of
the non-violent methods of protest pioneered by him -- and his
leadership of India`s freedom movement that has inspired many
revolutionaries of later years, led him to the top of the list
of the 25 all time greats.
Describing Mohandas Gandhi as a figure "few will ever
forget", the prestigious magazine said his struggle paved the
way for other social movements including America`s struggle
for civil rights.
"While working as a lawyer in South Africa, he
pioneered the concept of satyagraha, or, civil disobedience in
response to tyranny, helping Indians there campaign for civil
rights," it said.
"Working with Jawaharlal Nehru, the nation`s future
prime minister, Gandhi led the country in peaceful protest
against foreign domination, exemplified by the 1930 Salt March
in protest to a British salt tax. His rise paved the way for
India`s independence in 1947," it said.
Gandhi, who left behind a universal influence, has
inspired leaders like American civil rights movement leader
Martin Luther King and South Africa`s anti-apartheid champion
Nelson Mandela, and also US President Barack Obama.
The 16th century Mughal Emperor Jalaluddin Mohammad
Akbar, a figure who played a major role in unifying the
largely scattered fiefdoms in northern India, also finds a
place in the elite list.
The ethos of pluralism and tolerance pioneered by the
Muslim ruler in a Hindu-majority India underline the values of
the modern republic of India, the magazine said.
The third Mughal ruler of India presided over a
flourishing of the arts, sponsoring artisans, poets, engineers
and philosophers at a time when Europe was still in its
"If ever a leader merited a tautology, it was the
Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great. Under Akbar, a fragile
collection of fiefs around Delhi grew into the great Mughal
Empire, a diverse and sprawling kingdom across northern
India," the magazine said.
"He was a canny warlord whose conquests gave rise to
one of the early modern world`s wealthiest states. Moreover,
while a Muslim, Akbar was spiritually curious and hosted
religious scholars from Hindu gurus to Jesuits at his vast,
diverse court," it said.
The Dalai Lama, who has often admitted the Mahatma`s
influence on him, has also been lauded for the non-violence
and tolerance message that he has passed on to the
"For decades and from exile since 1959 he has
worked to resolve tensions between Tibet and the People`s
Republic of China. And like Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr
before him, the Dalai Lama done so in a manner defined by
nonviolence and tolerance," it said.
The magazine, with a word of caution, noted, "For all
the global compassion and sympathy the Dalai Lama has won, his
lasting legacy may be one of sad, crestfallen failure," it
The magazine described Hitler as possibly the most
reviled man in the history of human existence, a universal
symbol for evil.
The other figures mentioned in the list are Alexander
the Great, Mao Zedong, Winston Churchill, Genghis Khan, Nelson
Mandela, Abraham Lincoln, Ernesto "Che" Guevara, Ronald
Reagan, Cleopatra, Franklin Roosevelt, Queen Victoria, Benito
Mussolini, Lenin, Margaret Thatcher, Simon Bolivar, Qin Shi
Huang, Kim Il-Sung, Charles de Gaulle, Louis XIV, Haile
Selassie, King Richard the Lionheart & Saladin.