No lists can ever do justice to the personal struggles we all wage, nor to the many whose efforts reach out to touch the lives of millions. And yet we must all have our own list of people we find fascinating because I do believe that in admiring another, we are reaffirming those very strengths and qualities within ourselves. Here are some people I found fascinating in 2013 (in no particular order) :
It is always wonderful to have an Indian talked about in international literary circuits. Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri, Indian-origin American author with her realistic, meaningful writing was in the news again this year with The Lowland, a book being talked about for the deeply meaningful complexity of emotions the author brings to play. The book was a contender at the Man Booker’s and US National Book Award for Fiction.
From a scientist to one of Europe’s most powerful women, Angela Merkel’s story is an inspiring one. This year, she got elected for a third term as German chancellor, a rare and huge endorsement of her skills and leadership at a time when Germany faces economic and political challenges. This powerful lady is neither scared to dress to the hilt, nor to speak her mind or do her will. A lady after my own heart and the backbone of the European Union.
I admire this cricket legend not just for his prowess at the game, but also for having managed perceptions and walked away with his image and dignity intact from a game mired in controversy. Sachin created records, challenged himself and the world, averted controversy, and rose above all that was dirty with the game.
The youngest nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani school student and women’s rights activist. Shot in the head for defying the Taliban, Malala fought back to become one of the most inspiring and elevating stories of the year. Condemned by her own country, she stays true to tradition.
A charismatic personality and great speaker, Narendra Modi has the ability to carry whole audiences, particularly the youth and intelligentsia with him. With the image of a decisive and impartial administrator, he has managed to capture India’s imagination as the man with the solutions, a doer who knows the way forward.
The last of the great legends, Nelson Mandela passed away this year. A present day Mahatma who had a huge impact on our lives with his life-long crusade against apartheid. Where do they make men like him any more? Mandela will live on for generations to come!
I just love this woman! Like wine, she grows better with the years. She lives all the roles she plays, adopting the persona of the character beautifully, without caring what she looks or sounds like! Till date, Streep has had 17 Academy Award noiminations, (she won two) and 26 Golden Globe nominations (eight wins) – more than any other actor ever! This year again, her role in August: Osage County has already earned her several lead actress nominations.
I admired her not at all for standing by her husband Bill Clinton when he was caught with his pants down, but for using the opportunity to get back at him in the only way every woman should – by becoming bigger and greater than him! The most admirable quote from the former US Secretary of State, this year: “When women participate in politics it ripples out to the entire society… Women are the world’s most underused resource.”
What do you say about the man who put the Superpower on the defensive? The iconic ‘whistle-blower’ Edward Snowden shook the world this June when he showed all that the NSA was hoovering all phone metadata in the US – the most important leak in American history. He started a debate between national security and information privacy. The Whistle-blower is now in exile in Russia and faces charges of espionage if he returns to the US.
I have my reservations, but the fact remains that this man outstripped all expectations and managed to walk his talk! Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi party created history, even if he benefited more from the protest vote rather than a popular vote!