Time, the India Today of Amrica, has voted Mr. Mikhail Gorbachove as man of the year. So I will now endeavour to select the man of the year from India.
The most obvious choice is Mr. Rajiv Gandhi. He has survived a crisis, continues as prime minister, continues as the only leader in the country, (with authority to dismiss anti-national governments to dismiss anti-national governments in the state), he has brought the country one year nearer to the 21st century, has raised India's voice at international forums, is generally known to be the man who brought Gorbachov and Reagan together and the limited détente that followed.
If Doordarshan were doing the voting. Mr. Gandhi would have already been named man of the year. But since he has still to bring an accord nearer home - in Punjab, in Darjeeling, in Sri Lanka - I think I will skip him this year.
The obvious choice then would be his main rival and alternate prime minister - Mr. V.P. Singh. If the voting was done in June , 1987, with Mr. Singh sitting with all the secrets on him, threatening to reveal them any moment, I would have automatically selected him man of the year. But in December, 1987, Mr. Singh is still sitting with the secrets on him, and it now looks like he has no secrets to reveal. So Mr. Singh, though nominated, is out.
The Maharaja of Gwalior may be considered as the last maharaja of India. But, perhaps, it is best to keep him out right now. And none of the other Congressmen qualify for the title since they ae just shadows under the great banyan tree.
Among the opposition, a few years ago I would have considered Mr. Ramakrishna Hegde. But not this year; not only as the alternate prime minister, but he is also not being talked about as the best chief minister in the country. Mr. Jyoti Basu is a better choice, but for a communist to be selected he would have to be more glasnost…….like Mr. Gorbachov.
Moving to other fields, there is always Mr. Amitabh Bachchan. However, it is not clear which field he is in since, at the moment, he is neither in politics nor in films.
There is also Mr. Arun Shorie, though he may not be universally accepted choice. Among other things, some of the national dailies may not even report Mr. Shorie's being voted man of the year. Mr. M.J. Akbar is the only other choice among journalists, but, I think, he is too practical a person and would prefer a seat in the Rajya Sabha rather than an empty title of man of the year.
There is, of course, always, Sunil Gavaskar. Especially as this is the year of his retirement. But, perhaps, we have had enough of Gavaskar. Best let the poor man be and make some money for a change.
Eventually, I am of the opinion, if Time, does not mind, that the man of the year from India will have to be a woman. It will have to be Mrs. Sonaia Gandhi, who has been increasingly mentioned through the year as the power behind the throne and who has finally come out in the open and more or less; acknowledged this.