The future of this country is its people, and we have seen it. In our daily experience of putting together the paper, we come across remarkable people from every corner of India - in culture, politics, medicine, in all spheres of our public life. Some are trailblazers, charting paths of individual brilliance. And then there are some who take it upon themselves to lead from the front, change the lives of others, but with the least amount of din.
The 'India Awakened' series was launched on January 15 to take note of such people and tell their compelling stories. As we close the series today, we salute the 25 changemakers whose acts of selflessness, imagination and courage turned around the lives of fellow Indians and gave it new meaning.
Do-gooders, in many ways, are not difficult to find. But we were clear about the kind of people we wanted featured. Ordinary Indians who had battled odds to bring change, innovative entrepreneurs who had made a difference to their local economies, people whose stories would inspire others to work for change. And most of all, those who were little-known and had not drawn attention to themselves.
For instance, Rambai, a voluntary health worker in Chhattisgarh, and Banwasi Musahar, a potter who had built a school for Dalit children in one of the most underdeveloped parts of Bihar, would not make it to any power-list. Neither would the doughty environmentalist, Jai Prakash Dabral, who began studying law at 55 to fight Garhwal's timber mafia in court. Bezwada Wilson, a messiah of India's manual-scavenging community and Parneet Singh, a passport officer in Jalandhar who helps victims of marriage fraud, are other committed workers who are changing age-old attitudes and mindsets with their principled stands.
This list was not cast in stone. We kept it open for constant review, often firming it up only to shuffle the line-up so as to provide variety, depth, or to simply take a bit more time to ask more searching questions about the person we were upholding as a model. Constant feedback from our readers kept us on our toes. We have been overwhelmed by the generosity with which you have responded to this series - both by mail and by posting on our website. Of our 25 change-makers, we featured three you nominated. To the hundreds of other suggestions and nominations, we say a sincere Thank You. We don't know everything. So, let's keep talking.