Changemaker might be a cliched word in a world that is ruled by social media, where influencers are made and unmade every day. In this haze of stories, reels and posts, we sometimes forget to pause and look around to spot those people who work tirelessly to bring perceptible social change. This change might not be epoch-shifting, but in the deeply troubled world that we live in, positive deviations from contemporary practices should be celebrated. So, we continue with the Outlook Business tradition of the annual listing of changemakers.
In this edition, we celebrate 23 changemakers of 2023. While defining change, we paid careful attention to highlighting people and entities whose actions play out in overcoming institutional limitations. Some have created records that are nothing short of historic, while the impact of some others might not be entirely revealed in the present.
So, when Nandan Nilekani donates to IIT, Bombay, or Nikhil Kamath of Zerodha pledges to give away half his wealth, they are not random acts of philanthropy. They should be seen as setting trends: one is meant to boost young minds and fund the upkeep of premier institutions of the country, while the other is about inculcating a celebrated Western practice among the young billionaires of India.
Similarly, Neeraj Chopra’s records might create history, but, beneath the veneer of sporting glory, we highlight his steely resolve to fight all odds to remain a consistent performer. In this pursuit, he is popularising a sport that most Indians had not heard of till Chopra brought home the Olympic laurel. United with him in spirit is Malavika Hegde’s resolve to resuscitate the debt-ridden, loss-making company that her husband left her with. We celebrate both, just as we record the individual brilliance of R. Praggnanandhaa and Virat Kohli.
Then there are those who created history by charting new territories, quite literally, like ISRO and its lunar mission. And, in the world of cinema, S.S. Rajamouli and Guneet Monga took their stories beyond Indian shores to capture global imagination.
As we build on the definition of change, politicians such as Mallikarjun Kharge and Himachal Pradesh chief minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu fit in. They have defined this year with hard work: one at keeping a 100-year-old party from near extinction and other at keeping his state from large-scale fatalities. Similarly, behind India’s G20 success and steady steps in conquering the world of big tech are the contributions of Amitabh Kant and Ashwini Vaishnaw, respectively, both low profile but high performers.
Then there are the do-gooders and pathfinders, whose impulse to stand out is to merely remain true to their core values and in this pursuit, they touch lives.
The overriding feature among all our changemakers, whether individuals or institutions, is that their impact goes much beyond their actions to influence their entire sector of operation. Be it Shah Rukh Khan with his back-to-back blockbusters, Rahul Gandhi with his image makeover, Nitin Gadkari with his policies or the Supreme Court under Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, all of them bucked trends to set trends.
Our changemakers are influencers who might or might not set social media trends, and, even if they do, our short video-formatted minds may not capture the true impact of their actions. We analyse this impact and to these changemakers we dedicate our edition of December 2023.