Gandhi, Akbar among world’s top icons: Time (Lead, Changing dateline)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

NEW DELHI - Mahatma Gandhi, Mughal emperor Akbar and Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama have been named by Time magazine among the world’s top 25 political icons.

Mohandas Gandhi, as the magazine called him, led the list which also included Alexander the Great, Mao Zedong, Winston Churchill, Genghis Khan, Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln, Hitler, ‘Che’ Guevara and Lenin.

The magazine credited Mahatma Gandhi with spearheading peaceful protests aimed at ending the British Raj that helped him become the spiritual heart of the Indian independence struggle.

“Gandhi led the country in peaceful protest against foreign domination… His rise paved the way for India’s independence in 1947,” it said.

“Though the country was later divided (and Gandhi assassinated), his role in the bloodless revolution … paved the way for other social movements including America’s struggle for civil rights,” Time added.

The magazine said Akbar helped a fragile collection of fiefs around Delhi to grow into what became the Mughal empire. He presided over a flourishing of the arts, sponsoring artisans, poets, engineers and philosophers.

Calling him a “canny warlod”, Time said that while he was a Muslim, Akbar was spiritually curious and hosted religious scholars from Hindu gurus to Jesuits, besides trying to meld Hinduism and Islam.

“While the creed no longer lingers, the ethos of pluralism and tolerance that defined Akarb’s age underlines the values of the modern republic of India.”

The Dalai Lama, Time said, is “not only the greatest and most public advocate for Tibetan rights and the virtues of Tibetan Buddhism, but also for interfaith tolerance and peace as well to people around the world.

“To countless Tibetans, the Dalai Lama is a spiritual leader and a head of state in absentia. For decades - and from exile since 1959 - he has worked to resolve tensions between Tibet and China.

“And like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. before him, the Dalai Lama done so in a manner defined by non-violence and tolerance.

“The Dalai Lama’s humility has endeared him to presidents and religious leaders of several countries, affording him the opportunity to raise awareness and drum up support for Tibet on a global scale,” the magazine said.

The Dalai Lama, whom Beijing brands a separatist, fled into exile in 1959 and established his government-in-exile in India’s Dharamsala town.

Others in the Time list are: Ronald Reagan, Cleopatra, Franklin Roosevelt, Queen Victoria, Mussolini, Lenin, Margaret Thatcher, Simn Bolvar, Qin Shi Huang, Kim Il-Sung, Charles de Gaulle, Louis XIV, Haile Selassie, King Richard the Lionheart, and Saladin.

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