Who are the greatest politicians in different countries around the world over the last 50 years? Why?
Answer by Balaji Viswanathan:
I will disqualify any leader before 1964.
- Lee Kuan Yew – Showed that a tiny Asian slum of Singapore can become the world's most advanced nation without the need of armies, natural resources or exploitation of people. Amazing leader by any metric.
- Deng Xiaoping – Can you change the future of 1 million people? How about 100 million? How about 1.5 billion people? Deng pulled China out of a brutal self-destruction loop and brought the most number of people out of poverty in human history. He helped more poor people out of their situation than all the charity agencies in the world, combined.
- Indira Gandhi – She was not an angel, but she was ruthless and effective. She was a woman prime minister who exercised full control in a patriarchal society. She helped create the nation of Bangladesh by going against two superpowers – US and China. She secured India's nuclear future by flipping a finger at the unfair NPT.
- – He took over Singapore's poor cousin of Malaysia and turned it into an Asian tiger. He was a Prime Minister for 22 consecutive years – among the longest in any democracy.
Africa & Middle East
- Nelson Mandela – The peace icon of South Africa. He helped heal the wounds of apartheid and showed how you can integrate different races in an amicable way. World leaders, including the US Presidents, can learn a lot from him.
- – Can a carpenter of meager background create a nation, challenging an empire? Kenyatta fought colonialism and racism, and was able to rise as a towering African figure and the founding father of Kenya. Despite suffering from racism, he let the white settlers continue peacefully after he obtained independence.
Americas & Europe
- Bill Clinton – Although he is not that well appreciated in the US, Clinton is among the most respected US Presidents internationally. He ushered in an era of peace and the only war he took was a just one (overthrowing Milosevic of Serbia). He brought a lot of respect to a nation that is frequently caught in unnecessary global controversies.
- Margaret Thatcher – The iron lady of England presided over range of economic and political reforms over a 11 year at the office. In centuries of British democratic history, she was the only woman to hold that office. Like Reagan, she took over the economy at a very precarious state and ended at a high note – communism was dusted. She stood strong against Argentina's expansionist policy in Falklands and became the first British Prime Minister to visit China.
If the 50 year hard limit is not needed then the two more great leaders can be added:
- Vallabhai Patel – Welded a 500 nation subcontinent with a fifth of world's population into the Republic of India. One of these nations was thrice as big as Ireland and was ruled by the world's richest person. Patel took over that in weeks without batting an eyelid. Called the Iron man of India.
- Dwight Eisenhower – Provided the longest peacetime period in recent US history. Created the interstate system and set the foundation for massive jump in US scientific explorations.