Monthly Archives: February 2015

Chanakya

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 Chanakya        Chanakya

India: Great Diplomat

Chanakya (About this sound pronunciation was an Indian teacher, philosopher, and royal advisor.

Originally a professor of economics and political science at the ancient Takshashila University, Chanakya managed the first Maurya emperor Chandragupta’s rise to power at a young age. He is widely credited for having played an important role in the establishment of the Maurya Empire, which was the first empire in archaeologically recorded history to rule most of the Indian subcontinent. Chanakya served as the chief advisor to both Chandragupta and his son Bindusara.

Chanakya is traditionally identified as Kautilya or Vishnu Gupta, who authored the ancient Indian political treatise called Arthasastra (Economics). As such, he is considered as the pioneer of the field of political science and economics in India, and his work is thought of as an important precursor to classical economics. His works were lost near the end of the Gupta dynasty and not rediscovered until 1915.

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Abraham Lincoln

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Abraham Lincoln       Abraham Lincoln

USA: Great President

Abraham Lincoln Listeni (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. Lincoln led the United States through its Civil War—its bloodiest war and its greatest moral, constitutional and political crisis] In doing so, he preserved the Union, abolished slavery, strengthened the federal government, and modernized the economy.

Lincoln grew up on the western frontier in Kentucky and Indiana. Largely self-educated, he became a lawyer in Illinois, a Whig Party leader, and a member of the Illinois House of Representatives, where he served from 1834 to 1846. Elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1846, Lincoln promoted rapid modernization of the economy through banks, tariffs, and railroads. Because he had originally agreed not to run for a second term in Congress, and his opposition to the Mexican–American War was unpopular among Illinois voters, Lincoln returned to Springfield and resumed his successful law practice. Reentering politics in 1854, he became a leader in building the new Republican Party, which had a statewide majority in Illinois. In 1858, while taking part in a series of highly publicized debates with his opponent and rival, Democrat Stephen A. Douglas, Lincoln spoke out against the expansion of slavery, but lost the U.S. Senate race to Douglas.

In 1860 Lincoln secured the Republican Party presidential nomination as a moderate from a swing state. With very little support in the slaveholding states of the South, he swept the North and was elected president in 1860. His election prompted seven southern slave states to form the Confederate States of America before he was sworn into office. No compromise or reconciliation was found regarding slavery and secession.

After the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, the North enthusiastically rallied behind the Union. Lincoln concentrated on the military and political dimensions of the war. His primary goal was to reunite the nation. He suspended habeas corpus, leading to the controversial ex parte Merryman decision. Lincoln averted potential British intervention in the war by defusing the Trent Affair in late 1861. His complex moves toward ending slavery centered on the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. Lincoln used the U.S. Army to protect escaped slaves, encouraged the border states to outlaw slavery, and helped push through Congress the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which permanently outlawed slavery. Lincoln closely supervised the war effort, especially the selection of top generals, including his most successful general, Ulysses S. Grant. He also made major decisions on Union war strategy; for example: a naval blockade that shut down the South’s normal trade; moves to take control of Kentucky and Tennessee; and using gunboats to gain control of the southern river system. Lincoln tried repeatedly to capture the Confederate capital at Richmond; each time a general failed, Lincoln substituted another, until finally Grant succeeded in 1865.

An exceptionally astute politician deeply involved with power issues in each state, Lincoln reached out to “War Democrats” (those who supported the North against the South), and managed his own re-election campaign in the 1864 presidential election. As the leader of the moderate faction of the Republican Party, Lincoln confronted Radical Republicans, who demanded harsher treatment of the South, War Democrats, who called for more compromise, anti-war Democrats (called Copperheads), who despised him, and irreconcilable secessionists, who plotted his assassination. Politically, Lincoln fought back by pitting his opponents against each other, by appealing to the American people with his powers of oratory, and by carefully planned political patronage. His Gettysburg Address of 1863 became an iconic endorsement of the principles of nationalism, republicanism, equal rights, liberty, and democracy. Lincoln held a moderate view of Reconstruction, seeking to reunite the nation speedily through a policy of generous reconciliation in the face of lingering and bitter divisiveness. Six days after the surrender of Confederate commanding general Robert E. Lee, Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, a Confederate sympathizer.

Lincoln has been consistently ranked both by scholars and the public as one of the three greatest U.S. presidents.

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Osho Rajneesh

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Osho Rajneesh       Osho Rajneesh

India: Self Proclaimed God

Chandra Mohan Jain (11 December 1931 – 19 January 1990), also known as Acharya Rajneesh from the 1960s onwards, as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh during the 1970s and 1980s, and as Osho (About this sound pronunciation from 1989, was an Indian mystic, guru and spiritual teacher. His international following has continued beyond his death.

A professor of philosophy, he travelled throughout India during the 1960s as a public speaker. His outspoken criticism of politicians and the political mind, Mahatma Gandhi and institutionalised religion made him controversial. He advocated a more open attitude towards sexuality, a stance which earned him the sobriquet of “sex guru” in the Indian and international press. In 1970 Rajneesh settled for a time in Bombay, initiating disciples (known as neo-sannyasins) and assuming the role of spiritual teacher. In his discourses he reinterpreted the writings of religious traditions, mystics and philosophers from around the world. Moving to Pune in 1974, he established an ashram which attracted a growing number of Westerners. The ashram offered therapies derived from the Human Potential Movement to its Western audience and made news in India and abroad because of its permissive climate and Rajneesh’s provocative lectures. By the late 1970s, tensions were mounting with the Indian government and the surrounding society.

In mid-1981, Rajneesh relocated to the United States, where his followers established an intentional community (later known as Rajneeshpuram) near Antelope, Oregon south of The Dalles, Oregon. Almost immediately, the commune’s leadership became embroiled in conflicts with local residents (primarily over land use), which were marked by hostility on both sides. The large number of Rolls-Royce cars purchased for Rajneesh’s use by his followers also attracted criticism. The Oregon commune collapsed in 1985 when Rajneesh revealed that the commune leadership had committed a number of serious crimes, including a bioterror attack on the citizens of The Dalles. He was arrested shortly afterwards, and charged with immigration violations. Rajneesh was deported from the United States in accordance with a plea bargain.Twenty-one countries denied him entry, causing Rajneesh to travel the world before returning to Pune, where he died in 1990.

Rajneesh’s ashram in Pune is today known as the Osho International Meditation Resort. His syncretic teachings emphasise the importance of meditation, awareness, love, celebration, courage, creativity and humour: qualities which he viewed as suppressed by adherence to static belief systems, religious tradition and socialisation. Rajneesh’s teachings have had a notable influence on Western spirituality, as well as New Age thought.Their popularity has increased since his death.

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Daniel Defoe

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Daniel Defoe       Daniel Defoe

England: Author of Robinson Crusoe

Daniel Defoe  1660 – 24 April 1731) born Daniel Foe, was an English trader, writer, journalist, pamphleteer and spy, now most famous for his novel Robinson Crusoe. Defoe is notable for being one of the earliest proponents of the novel, as he helped to popularise the form in Britain and with others such as Samuel Richardson, is among the founders of the English novel. A prolific and versatile writer, he wrote more than five hundred books, pamphlets and journals on various topics (including politics, crime, religion, marriage, psychology and the supernatural). He was also a pioneer of economic journalism.

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Martin Luther King

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Martin Luther King         Martin Luther King

USA: Negro Civil Rights Leader

Martin Luther King, Jr., (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American Baptist minister, activist, humanitarian, and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs.

Dr. King became a civil rights activist early in his career. He led the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957, serving as its first president. With the SCLC, King led an unsuccessful 1962 struggle against segregation in Albany, Georgia (the Albany Movement), and helped organize the 1963 nonviolent protests in Birmingham, Alabama that attracted national attention following television news coverage of the brutal police response. King also helped to organize the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. There, he established his reputation as one of the greatest orators in American history.

On October 14, 1964, King received the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolence. In 1965, he helped to organize the Selma to Montgomery marches, and the following year he and SCLC took the movement north to Chicago to work on segregated housing. In the final years of his life, King expanded his focus to include poverty and speak against the Vietnam War, alienating many of his liberal allies with a 1967 speech titled “Beyond Vietnam”.

In 1968, King was planning a national occupation of Washington, D.C., to be called the Poor People’s Campaign, when he was assassinated on April 4 in Memphis, Tennessee. His death was followed by riots in many U.S. cities. Allegations that James Earl Ray, the man convicted of killing King, had been framed or acted in concert with government agents persisted for decades after the shooting.

King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was established as a holiday in numerous cities and states beginning in 1971, and as a U.S. federal holiday in 1986. Hundreds of streets in the U.S. have been renamed in his honor, and a county in Washington State was also renamed for him. The Martin Luther King Memorial statue on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. was dedicated in 2011.

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Alexander Dumas

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Alexander Dumas        Alexander Dumas

France: Great French Novelist

Alexandre Dumas (French: 24 July 1802 – 5 December 1870), also known as Alexandre Dumas, père (father) was a French writer. His works have been translated into nearly 100 languages, and he is one of the most widely read French authors. Many of his historical novels of high adventure were originally published as serials, including The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After, and The Vicomte de Bragelonne: Ten Years Later. His novels have been adapted since the early twentieth century for nearly 200 films. Dumas’ last novel, The Knight of Sainte-Hermine, unfinished at his death, was completed by a scholar and published in 2005, becoming a bestseller. It was published in English in 2008 as The Last Cavalier.

Prolific in several genres, Dumas began his career by writing plays, which were successfully produced from the first. He also wrote numerous magazine articles and travel books; his published works totaled 100,000 pages.In the 1840s, Dumas founded the Théâtre Historique in Paris.

Dumas’ father (general Thomas-Alexandre Davy de la Pailleterie) was born in Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti) to a French nobleman and an enslaved African woman. At age 14, Thomas-Alexandre was taken by his father to France, where he was educated in a military academy and entered the military for what he made as an illustrious career.

His father’s aristocratic rank helped young Alexandre acquire work with Louis-Philippe, Duke of Orléans. He later began working as a writer, finding early success. Decades later, in the election of Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte in 1851, Dumas fell from favor, and left France for Belgium, where he stayed for several years. Upon leaving Belgium, Dumas moved to Russia for a few years, before going to Italy. In 1861 he founded and published the newspaper, L’ Indipendente, which supported the Italian unification effort. In 1864 he returned to Paris.

Though married, in the tradition of Frenchmen of higher social class, Dumas had numerous affairs (allegedly as many as forty). He was known to have at least four illegitimate or “natural” children, including a boy named Alexandre Dumas after him. This son became a successful novelist and playwright, and was known as Alexandre Dumas, fils (son), while the elder Dumas became conventionally known in French as Alexandre Dumas, père (father). Among his affairs, in 1866 Dumas had one with Adah Isaacs Menken, an American actress then less than half his age and at the height of her career. Twentieth-century scholars have found that Dumas fathered another three “natural” children.

The English playwright Watts Phillips, who knew Dumas in his later life, described him as, “the most generous, large-hearted being in the world. He also was the most delightfully amusing and egotistical creature on the face of the earth. His tongue was like a windmill – once set in motion, you never knew when he would stop, especially if the theme was himself.”

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Raja Ram Mohan Roy

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Raja Ram Mohan Roy        Raja Ram Mohan Roy

India: Father of Indian Renaissance

Raja Ram Mohan Roy (22 May 1772 – 27 September 1833) was a founder (with Dwarkanath Tagore and other Bengali Brahmins) of the Brahmo Samaj movement in 1828 which engendered the Brahmo Samaj, an influential Indian socio-religious reform movement. His influence was apparent in the fields of politics, public administration and education as well as religion. He is best known for his efforts to abolish the practice of sati, the Hindu funeral practice in which the widow was compelled to sacrifice herself on her husband’s funeral pyre. It was he who first introduced the word “Hinduism” into the English language in 1816. For his diverse contributions to society, Raja Ram Mohan Roy is regarded as one of the most important figures in the Bengal Renaissance. His efforts to protect Hinduism and Indian rights by participating in British government earned him the title “The Father of the Indian Renaissance”.

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Charlie Chaplin

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Charlie Chaplin Charlie_Chaplin      Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chapin

England: Most Popular Comic Actor

 Sir Charles Spencer “Charlie” Chaplin, KBE (16 April 1889 – 25 December 1977) was an English comic actor and filmmaker who rose to fame in the silent film era. Chaplin became a worldwide icon through his screen persona “the Tramp” and is considered one of the most important figures of the film industry. His career spanned more than 75 years, from childhood in the Victorian era until a year before his death at age 88, and encompassed both adulation and controversy.

Chaplin’s childhood in London was defined by poverty and hardship. As his father was absent and his mother struggled financially, he was sent to a workhouse twice before the age of nine. When he was 14, his mother was committed to a mental asylum. Chaplin began performing at an early age, touring music halls and later working as a stage actor and comedian. At 19 he was signed to the prestigious Fred Karno company, which took him to America. Chaplin was scouted for the film industry, and began appearing in 1914 for Keystone Studios. He soon developed the Tramp persona and formed a large fan base. Chaplin directed his films from an early stage, and continued to hone his craft as he moved to the Essanay, Mutual, and First National corporations. By 1918, he was one of the best known figures in the world.

In 1919, Chaplin co-founded the distribution company United Artists, which gave him complete control over his films. His first feature-length was The Kid (1921), followed by A Woman of Paris (1923), The Gold Rush (1925), and The Circus (1928). He refused to move to sound films in the 1930s, instead producing City Lights (1931) and Modern Times (1936) without dialogue. Chaplin became increasingly political and his next film, The Great Dictator (1940), satirised Adolf Hitler. The 1940s were a decade marked with controversy for Chaplin, and his popularity declined rapidly. He was accused of communist sympathies, while his involvement in a paternity suit and marriages to much younger women caused scandal. An FBI investigation was opened, and Chaplin was forced to leave the United States and settle in Switzerland. He abandoned the Tramp in his later films, which include Monsieur Verdoux (1947), Limelight (1952), A King in New York (1957), and A Countess from Hong Kong (1967).

Chaplin wrote, directed, produced, edited, starred in, and composed the music for most of his films. He was a perfectionist, and his financial independence enabled him to spend years on the development and production of a picture. His films are characterised by slapstick combined with pathos, typified in the Tramp’s struggles against adversity. Many contain social and political themes, as well as autobiographical elements. In 1972, as part of a renewed appreciation for his work, Chaplin received an Honorary Academy Award for “the incalculable effect he has had in making motion pictures the art form of this century”. He continues to be held in high regard, with The Gold Rush, City Lights, Modern Times, and The Great Dictator often ranked among industry lists of the greatest films of all time.

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Bobby Fischer

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Bobby Fischer       Bobby Fischer

USA: Chess King

Robert James “Bobby” Fischer (March 9, 1943 – January 17, 2008) was an American chess prodigy, grandmaster, and the eleventh World Chess Champion. Many consider him the greatest chess player of all time.

At age 13 Fischer won a “brilliancy” that became known as The Game of the Century. Starting at age 14, Fischer played in eight United States Championships, winning each one by at least a one-point margin. At age 15, Fischer became both the youngest grandmaster up to that time and the youngest candidate for the World Championship. At age 20, Fischer won the 1963–64 U.S. Championship with 11/11, the only perfect score in the history of the tournament. Fischer’s My 60 Memorable Games (1969) remains a revered work in chess literature.

In 1970, Fischer “dominated his contemporaries” by winning the 1970 Interzonal Tournament by a record 3½-point margin and winning 20 consecutive games, including two unprecedented 6–0 sweeps in the Candidates Matches. In July 1971, he became the first official World Chess Federation (FIDE) number-one-ranked player, spending 54 total months at number one. In 1972, he captured the World Chess Championship from Boris Spassky of the USSR in a match, held in Reykjavík, Iceland, publicized as a Cold War confrontation which attracted more worldwide interest than any chess championship before or since.

In 1975, Fischer refused to defend his title when an agreement could not be reached with FIDE over one of the conditions for the match. Afterward, Fischer became a recluse, disappearing from the public eye until 1992, when he won an unofficial rematch against Spassky. It was held in Yugoslavia, which was under a United Nations embargo at the time. His participation led to a conflict with the U.S. government, which sought income tax on Fischer’s match winnings, and ultimately issued a warrant for his arrest.

In the 1990s, Fischer patented a modified chess timing system which added a time increment after each move, now a standard practice in top tournament and match play, and created a new variant of chess called Fischerandom (Chess960).

During the 1990s and early 2000s, Fischer lived in Hungary, Germany, the Philippines, Japan, and Iceland, and made increasingly anti-American and anti-semitic remarks on various radio stations. Possibly as a result, his U.S. passport was revoked. Fischer, unaware of his passport’s revocation, traveled to Japan, where he was arrested by Japanese authorities, and detained for over eight months (in 2004 and 2005) under threat of deportation. In March 2005, Iceland granted Fischer full citizenship, leading Japanese authorities to release him from prison. Fischer flew to Iceland, where he lived until his death on January 17, 2008.

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Dr.B.R.Ambedkar

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Dr._Bhim_Rao_Ambedkar       Dr.B.R.Ambedkar

India: Father of Indian Constitution

Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (14 April 1891 – 6 December 1956), popularly known as Babasaheb, was an Indian jurist, economist, politician and social reformer who inspired the Modern Buddhist Movement and campaigned against social discrimination of Dalits, women and labour. He was Independent India’s first law minister and the principal architect of the Constitution of India.

Ambedkar was a prolific student, earning a law degree and various doctorates from Columbia University and the London School of Economics, and gained a reputation as a scholar for his research in law, economics and political science. In his early career he was an economist, professor, and lawyer. His later life was marked by his political activities, where he became involved in the negotiations for India’s independence campaigning by publishing journals advocating political rights and social freedom for ‘untouchables’ and contributing significantly to the establishment of the state of India. In 1956 he converted to Buddhism, initiating mass conversions of Dalits.

In 1990, Ambedkar was posthumously conferred with the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award. Ambedkar’s legacy includes numerous memorials and depictions in popular culture.

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