Which is it? Chance or choice that makes one’s destiny? If you ask any one of the 21 people photographed alongside this column, they’d probably answer without any hesitation that it is choice.
After all, luck can only take you so far. To go farther, you need to have a vision and the conviction and intelligence to realise it. That’s what sets leaders apart from followers.
Leaders don’t hesitate to take on seemingly impossible goals and then inspire everyone else around them to help achieve those goals. Needless to say, a country needs leaders in every sphere. It needs great politicians to judiciously exercise power on behalf of all its people; it needs great businessmen to create wealth for everyone; it needs great scientists, doctors, artists, writers, entertainers, and simply do-gooders.
Fortunately for the country, the scenario outside of politics looks less dire. Spurred by the dynamics of a free market, many a leader has emerged—in business, civil society, and arts and entertainment.
Most importantly, these are young leaders. People who’ve made the right moves at the right time to make a difference to their own lives as well as those of others in the country. These are the people who, more than anyone else, will determine the course of India’s journey ahead.
Therefore, to mark our 16th anniversary issue, we have chosen to profile 21 young leaders for India’s 21st century. To sift through hundreds of possible contenders, we spoke to industry watchers and also took the help of the Aspen Institute’s India office. By no means was the task of whittling a huge list down to 21 easy.
But in the end, a few filters helped: One, we considered only those who were 45 years of age or below; two, very importantly, we looked for ownership— that is, we considered how ‘invested’ these individuals were in their respective pursuits.
That automatically ruled out anyone who was an exemplary professional, but an employee just the same, liable to change jobs tomorrow.
Finally, to make our list, the person must have been doing something defining in his or her field. You’ll meet them in alphabetical order of their surnames, and categorised into business, social sector, and the creative arts and sports.