Yashwant Sinha | 75 | Bihar
DECADES AGO, I was asked by a teacher in school to name my favourite author. I dithered, then described the qualities of my favourite authors, before declaring grandly, “I am my favourite author.” I wasn’t being narcissistic. Other authors don’t impress me; personalities and deeds do. People like Gandhi and Jayaprakash Narayan fascinate me. But so many books have been written about them that it’s impossible for me to pick and choose. As a student, I studied history and political science. I enjoyed the former more, since it gave me insights into the functioning of different societies and countries. I have always enjoyed reading biographies. They have shaped and influenced my politics: Gautama Buddha, Mahavir, Ashoka, Chandragupta Maurya, Alexander the Great, Purushottama (the 1st century king of Paurava), Julius Caesar, George Washington and Nelson Mandela. If asked to choose a favourite subject, however, I’d pick military history — tales of battles and great daring. I have read voraciously about these subjects. I enjoy reading fiction too, but here I’m selective. My preferences tilt towards stories that speak of determination, struggle and victory. My greatest admiration is for those who have fought undeterred against all odds, without caring about the consequences, good or bad.