Who is the greatest Indian?



An unnecessary debate to determine who was the greatest Indian after Mahatma Gandhi has been initiated and in its final sequel an opinion war is sought to be created to figure out whether Jawaharlal Nehru was greater than Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar (the ultimate winner) or vice versa. If the debate is for TRP ratings, than it lacks seriousness as someone is bound to come out with a debate shortly as to who was the greatest Indian before the Mahatma.

In any case, it is extremely difficult to categorically state that so and so was a greater achiever than the other and those who were eliminated in the run up were made to exit the race in a very arbitrary manner. These are subjective opinions and obviously lack objectivity. There can be strong views and support for any two or more short listed persons in any category and if one does not reach a conclusion as per expectations, the decision can never be universally accepted. For instance if it was to be figured out as to who out of Lata Mangeskar and Asha Bhonsle is a better singer, the expected result should be Lata Mangeshkar. But those who are Asha fans will never accept it. For them she is the ultimate and most versatile singer. Similarly, when one has to compare Sunil Gavaskar to Sachin Tendulkar in this day of Marketing and high voltage publicity, the expected answer based on statistics would be Sachin. But amongst those who know and understand Cricket there will be a significant number of people who would opt for Gavaskar who batted without a helmet and protective gear against some of the greatest pace bowlers of all times.

No one can discount that Ambedkar’s contribution to the national cause in terms of the compilation of the Indian Constitution in particular is tremendous. Even if he was not to be declared as the greatest Indian after Gandhi, his stature and contributions will not diminish in any manner. Nehru too in a similar way does not need the certification of the greatest Indian. His role and contributions speak for themselves and to make comparisons with Ambedkar or any of his contemporaries is unjustified.

Amitabh Bacchan was one of the jury members when the final selection was announced. But what surprised most viewers was that he did not reveal upfront how close his family was to Nehru and how the Bacchans were allotted a house so close to Teen Murti where the Indian Prime Minister lived. Amitabh is a living legend of Indian Cinema and one would have expected him to be more expressive on the subject.

While writing on the issue, I do not think there is any express need to go back into history to talk about our icons, mostly from the past and compare them to each other. All of them have contributed in a significant manner to our daily lives whether in the field of politics, sports, entertainment or public life. The shortpoint is that India has been blessed to have so many distinguished people over a period of time who have made us proud. They are our shining stars and to make an attempt in reaching a conclusion in favour of one or the other is unfair. It is possible that my opinion may not be shared by many others. But my respect for those involved in this exercise remains intact, notwithstanding my views on the subject.

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