Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Greatest Indian

CNN-IBN had conducted a poll on the Greatest Indian after Mohandas Gandhi. B. R. Ambedkar won the poll. The 28-member jury had voted Jawaharlal Nehru. The jury had a list of 100 persons. They reduced it to 50 persons. The people voted on the 50 persons the list was further reduced to 10 persons. After voting by people B. R. Ambedkar emerged the winner. The other eight finalists were Vallabhbhai Patel, J. R. D. Tata, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, Mother Teresa, Indira Gandhi, Sachin Tendulkar, Atal Behari Vajpayee, and Lata Mangeshkar.

History TV18 and Outlook were CNN-IBN’s partners. I do not know why there were 28 members in the jury. Perhaps it was one member for each state.

Vallabhbhai Patel was deputy prime minister, home minister, and minister of information & broadcasting. He is known for amalgamation of princely states. J. R. D. Tata was an industrialist. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam is a scientist, known as missile man, and was president of India. Mother Teresa did charitable deeds for the poorest of the poor. She won Nobel Prize for Peace. Indira Gandhi and Atal Behari Vajpayee were prime ministers. Sachin Tendulkar is a cricketer. Lata Mangeshkar is a singer.

On 14 August 2012 CNN-IBN declared the result of its poll. On 16 August 2012 it held a discussion. The question: Was Ambedkar greater than Nehru? There was recorded interview with Shashi Tharoor. Kancha Ilaiah, Sudheendra Kulkarni, and Mridula Mukherjee took part in discussion. The answer as per votes by viewers was 59% yes, 41% no.

There was no need to mention the jury had voted Nehru as the greatest Indian. It seems Ambedkar’s victory was hard to digest for the jury and Congress members. It was even hard for Sudheendra Kulkarni who is associated with BJP. He said B. R. Ambedkar was opposed to Congress and freedom struggle. He joined viceroy’s council during Quit India movement. He was not the architect of the constitution. B. R. Ambedkar was the chairman of the drafting committee of the constitution. Nehru and Patel headed many committees of the constituent assembly.

It is not proper to put people of different fields, who lived at different times, together and ask who is the greatest of them. Acting, charitable work, industry, science, singing, sport, politics, and literature are different fields. Even in the same field there are differences. Hockey is different from cricket. A batsman is different from bowler. A spin bowler is different from a fast bowler. An off spinner is different from a leg spinner. In football, a goalkeeper is different from a forward. One is expected to stop goals; another is expected to score goals.

Some years back some people made lot of money by holding a poll on Seven Wonders of the Modern World. Voting was by SMS and each SMS cost 10 rupees. A person can vote any number of times. Many Indians voted for Taj Mahal. CNN-IBN did not go for SMS poll. Voting was by missed calls.

Next year CNN-IBN can have a poll on the Greatest Indian after Jawaharlal Nehru. B. R. Ambedkar died in 1956. Jawaharlal Nehru died in 1964.

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