January 24, 2020
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Critical Cut

The task: to choose the 20 Indians who shaped India in the 20th century. The Outlook panel: Khushwant Singh, Mushirul Hasan, Mrinal Pande and P.V. Indiresan. Verdict: yours.

Critical Cut
The Outlook panel comprised a quartet that made no bones about their strong, independent views. Fiction-writer and journalist Mrinal Pande vehemently opposed the inclusion of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru because, she argued, his vision had failed India miserably. Khushwant Singh warned that nobody would take the list seriously if India's first prime minister was left out. Former IIT Madras director Prof P.V. Indiresan had reservations about B.R. Ambedkar's divisive legacy, while historian Mushirul Hasan felt Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel suffered from an anti-minority bias. Finally though, all three found their way into the jury shortlist. As did the 17 others after some fierce discussions.

In the end, many great Indians of the 20th century lost out because the list couldn't accommodate more than 20 names. Among the missing are personages like Subhash Chandra Bose, Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad and Indira Gandhi, cultural and popular icons like Jamini Roy, Subramania Bharti, R.K. Narayan, Raj Kapoor and M.S. Subbulakshmi, and sporting heroes like Sunil Gavaskar and Vishwanathan Anand. Surprised? But then there is no verdict that can please all.

Prime Picks

Khushwant Singh: Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Rabindranath Tagore, C.V.Raman, Lata Mangeshkar

Mushirul Hasan: Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Ustad Allauddin Khan, Mother Teresa, Lata Mangeshkar

Mrinal Pande: Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, C.V.Raman, Ustad Allauddin Khan, Mother Teresa


P.V. Indiresan: Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Jamshedji Tata, Jawaharlal Nehru, C.V.Raman,

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