Here Is What A Great Leader Looks Like

Ashoka the Great, the most revered figure in Indian political history along with Mahatma Gandhi

Once a great conqueror, ruling the greatest empire of ancient India, Ashoka swore off war and conquest, advocated and practised non-violence and compassion, established hospitals and veterinary clinics for people and animals, founded monasteries, colleges and universities, sent scholars and ambassadors far and wide, as far as China and Mongolia in the East, and Greece and Italy in the West, in order to establish peaceful relations and cultural exchange, dug wells and planted trees, practised ecological stewardship and limited hunting and fishing, and promoted religious tolerance and freedom, in a spirit of compassion and mutual aid. His symbol, the Ashoka Chakra, was adopted as the centre-piece for the Indian flag, and as the symbol of India.

H.G. Wells wrote of Ashoka in his book, The Outline of History: “Amidst the tens of thousands of names of monarchs that crowd the columns of history, their majesties and graciousnesses and serenities and royal highnesses and the like, the name of Ashoka shines, and shines, almost alone, a star.”

Few other political leaders can compare to Ashoka. Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Tommy Douglas, Tony Benn, Aung Sang Suu Kyi, the Dalai Lama, and a rare few others only, are in this league.

Mostly, we have only the dregs, by comparison. Surely we can do better. And we will, if and when the people demand it.

November 3, 2015

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