Recalling a feature in the Illustrated Weekly of India, 1985.
There are, I’m sure, quite a lot of people who mourn the passing of the Illustrated Weekly of India, that inimitable magazine. I’m fortunate in possessing at least some editions dating back to the eighties.
One good feature of the weekly, especially under the editorship of Pritish Nandy, was its periodic publication of special editions. The issue dated Jan 27, 1985, was not quite such a dedicated special edition, but it did carry a list of “50 people who matter in India”.
Some of them stand way out in the national scene today. Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh was then described as an “epitome of the high-powered bureaucrat who successfully resisted the overwhelming pressures of the government to acquiesce with a controversial policy”. He was then Deputy chairman of the Planning Commission.
Atal Behari Vajpayee “may have lost ignominiously in the recent polls, but it would be absurd to write him off as a national leader….his stature in Indian politics remains intact…..his party has come to represent the political face of Hinduism, and even though the RSS may back the Congress (I) ( as it reportedly did during the recent polls) Vajpayee and the BJP will inevitably make a comeback on the national scene”. Pritish Nandy was perceptive alright. This was even before Advani’s Rath Yatra, at a time when quite a lot of people didn’t know there was a party called BJP.
Amitabh Bachchan has been better described in another issue of the weekly. “Number 1 to 10 at the box office”. Twenty years on, he is similarly placed in a slightly different field- brand endorsement. True, there’s Sachin, there’s Shahrukh. But no one really matches the Big B. Latest on the B-news forum: he’s rapping!
P.T.Usha has founded a school of athletics in Kozhikode. Lt. General Jagjit Singh Aurora, the commander of the eastern front during the Bangladesh war, died just a few days ago. Most of the “people who mattered” then have passed away by now. Some of them, alas, are forgotten or unknown names.
Listed below, 50 Indian who mattered in 1985 ( list courtesy Pritish Nandy and the Illustrated Weekly)
1) Rajiv Gandhi
2) Baba Amte
3) Pandit Ravi Shankar
4) Raghu Rai, photo-journalist, India Today
5) M.S. Subbulakshmi
6) Sunderlal Bahuguna, of Chipko fame
7) E.C. George Sudarshan, Director, Institute of Mathematical Science, Chennai
(who hypothesized the tachyon, the particle supposedly faster than light)
8) A.B. Vajpayee
9) Lakshmikant Jha, Head, Economic Reforms Commission
10) Rajni Kothari, Head, Peopl’s Union for Civil Liberties
11) Mother Theresa
12) R.K. Lakshman
13) J.S. Aurora
14) Vijay Tendulkar
15) Shankar Guha Niyogi, Trade unionist, Chattisgarh Mines Shramik Sangathana
16) Manmohan Singh
17) Sunil Gavaskar
18) O.V. Vijayan, cartoonist
19) Cho Ramaswamy
20) G.N. Ramachandran, Molecular Bio-Physicist
22) S. Chandrashekhar, Scientist, Nobel Laureate
23) Birju Maharaj, Kathak Maestro
24) Ramakrishna Hegde
25) Vithal Tarkunde, Jurist, co-founder with JP Narain of Citizens for Democracy, 74
26) Satyajit Ray
27) N.T. Rama Rao
28) Lata Mangeshkar
29) Pramod Karan Sethi, the man behind the Jaipur foot
30) Amitabh Bachchan
31) Bhimsen Joshi
32) Sharad Joshi
33) Salim Ali
34) U.R. Ananthamurthy, Kannada Novelist
35) Arun Shourie
36) Charles Correa, Architect, man behind the expansion of Mumbai
37) Chaudhury Charan Singh
38) M.F. Hussain
39) P.N. Bhagwati, Supreme Court Judge
40) Raj Krishna, economist
41) Avtar Singh Paintal, Neuro-physiologist
42) Chandi Prasad Bhat- also of the Chipko movement
43) JRD Tata
44) Kapil Dev
45) Ramnath Goenka, Press Baron- the Indian Express
46) Abdul Hameed- Hamdard Waqf Labs
47) Jyoti Basu
48) Zubin Mehta
49) Claude Alvares, Historian.
50) Lakshmanshastri Joshi, Scholar.