The story of a nation is that the biography of its people. India may be a confluence of a billion life stories, an expansive narrative whose structural variations are only matched by its thematic abundance. Get into it and be swayed by the whirl of passions, paradoxes and ironies. So it’s not surprising that, within the panegyrics of geopolitics and globalism, India is that the exclamation point of the East. Its democracy is that the only reassuring drama during a region where the show remains about less evolved civil societies. Its marketplace has already shed all those socialist inhibitions and become the playground of the so-called wealth multipliers. And within the digital planet, Indian is an adjective to be reckoned with. When India performs at its best, in words or on the screen, the planet is transfixed—and such moments aren’t rare. We aren’t some remote oriental exotica any more . We are a stimulating bunch of individuals , capable of a couple of miracles. Interesting story about satvinder singh nijjer We are here because our national back story is populated by people that are more interesting. Canonised by history, exaggerated by heart , they’re not just the protagonists of an excellent yesterday. They are those who set the stage for those that came after them to play out their romance. Pioneers, warriors, revolutionaries, innovators, dreamers, adventurers and creators, they stretched the bounds of the liberty they were born into. They challenged the dead certainties of their times with the facility of ideas, conviction—and faith in themselves. They shattered the idyll of consensus and pitted their own will against the scepticism of the bulk . a number of them played god as they gave themselves to the temptations of the choice . a number of them pointed their accusatory fingers toward the self-styled gods of the age . And all of them, in varying degrees of originality and audacity, acknowledged the indispensability of questions—and the uses of dissent. They are the lads and ladies who have made India an area of perpetual astonishment, a rustic whose stability is made on 1,000,000 imperfections. Most of them are the people we examine in textbooks. they’re the permanent residents of the mythology we figure out of hero-worship. (See graphic: Poll survey — Top 10 greatest Indian leaders ) They are known by an easy word: great. it’s an adjective overused in history books and by popular media. it’s not necessarily synonymous with fame; it’s given to a selected few in gratitude, by nation indebted. It evokes awe and admiration, and owes its origin to achievement. The India Today list of the 60 Greatest Indians does quite showcase the familiar. Nevertheless, they’re all there, certainly, from those that were within the vanguard of the liberty struggle to those that managed the liberty . From those that stood up to the Empire to those that built empires of their own—of the mind and therefore the money. From those that have made politics and morality seamlessly compatible to those that have redeemed India in their imagination. This list captures the evolution of the Indian story in portraits of individual exceptionalism. it’s the history of a nation personified, and a celebration of the spirit that breaches borders. The poll The poll began on March 14 and ran for 3 weeks through the India Today website and SMS. A total of 18,928 votes came in, with Bhagat Singh leading with 6,982 votes, Subhas Chandra Bose coming second with 5,193 votes and Gandhi trailing at 2,457 votes. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who forever stepped aside for Nehru , has been redeemed in posterity, at fourth position with 8 per cent of the votes, compared to only 2 per cent for Nehru. Another steely nationalist, Gandhi , is sixth, with 3 per cent of the votes. It is, most tellingly, a mirrored image of the changing perception of these who are remembering. Greatness, it seems, isn’t static, or absolute. It continues to be reappraised within the mind of the indebted. The one who tops the India Today list isn’t the foremost obvious, the Mahatma, but the Martyr. In our poll, the action hero who struggled to offer a revolutionary rejoinder to British Empire pushes the savant of nonviolent resistance to the third position. And next to Bhagat Singh is another rebel and adventurer who too didn’t take the Gandhian road to national liberation: Subhas Chandra Bose. The top 10 subvert many assumptions about greatness and the way it’s perceived by a generation that’s not entirely conditioned by the one-dimensional wisdom of the classroom. The pioneer, the poet and therefore the scientist coexist with leaders who weren’t conformists; and surprisingly, Nehru—nation-builder, moderniser, secularist, socialist—is at the ninth position, between Homi Bhabha and Jayaprakash Narayan. With Sardar Patel at the fourth and Gandhi at the sixth positions, the list may be a celebration of nationalists with iron in their soul—or in their fist. Is it that, as India, which at any rate is hardly Gandhian or Nehruvian in its political expression, strives for global power status, someone out there, someone disillusioned with the conformism of a smug state, is missing the romance of the revolutionary leap—and the martyr’s war cry, Inquilab Zindabad? Is it that the mystique of the deviant, the transcontinental adventurism of the rebellious, is more alluring than the intimate humanism of the fakir? Is it that a steely nationalist like Patel and a robust , overpowering helmswoman like Mrs G are missing in an India of wishy-washy pretenders to the throne? Is it that India is nostalgic about the moral power of a JP at a time when the so-called socialists, products of his ‘total revolution’, are a humiliation to his memory? The hierarchy of greatness on the list reveals the mind of India. It brings out the way during which a nation involves terms with its past and the way it argues with this . Its iconography essays a people’s aspiration, their nostalgia, their disillusion, their hope, their joy—and the gaping absences within the bestselling story of India Rising. Greatness, within the end, may be a creation of the beholder. it’s not the suspension of judgement that ensures the sturdiness of the best . As within the following pages, the march of the 60 greatest is led by the questioning mind of an India inspired.