It is said, “Responsibilities lies on the head that wears the crown.” When any person acquires a particular position they enjoys authority, but they also has to handle a lot of responsibilities, face challenges and perform all the duties as needed. Most of the people can manage to do all this, but there are few who go beyond this and pave a path for innovations or revolution in the system. Such trendsetters are rare but they greet a long lasting impact. Following are few such individuals who while serving an important post made few changes which left a mark in the industry or society.
- Abraham Lincoln – He was the 16th president of United States and a prominent figure who lead his country through its Civil War. Lincoln, no doubt was a great president and fulfilled all the duties duly, however apart from this he played a pivotal role in abolishment of slavery. Slavery was quite rampant in those times, and the issues regarding slaves were not considered of any importance. But Lincoln, on gaining position issued Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation which declared that all slaves in rebel states should be set free. Later millions more were freed as more areas of South came under Union control. Not only, did he work on abolishment of slavery but also tried various plans to colonize free blacks outside United States, though unfortunately most of these did not materialize. There have been lots of difference on opinions over his various stands and decisions, nevertheless he was first to make serious attempt to fight for slaves while serving the presidential tenure. He was one of those who advocated that even blacks had rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. He stood by his word that no man is good enough to govern another man without the other man’s consent.
- Tirunellai Narayana Iyer Seshan – He served as 10th Chief Election Commissioner of India from 1990 to 1996. As an election commissioner he introduced major reforms in the system. He played a significant role in curbing electoral malpractices and made the entire election process more transparent and efficient. During his tenure he cancelled and order re-polling in those areas where any irregularity was noticed. He implemented several moral codes of conduct and forced them on everyone alike. Few of his achievements includes – strict implementation of election code, issuance of voter’s IDs to eligible voters, progressive Election Commission Machinery and abolishment of places of worship to be used for campaigns. Seshan stamped his authority on country’s electoral system by conducting the cleanliest elections. The significant changes which he brought in the process are followed till date and have contributed towards making India the largest democracy.
- Kofi Annan – He served as Secretary General of the United Nations from 1997 to 2006. While holding this crucial position he designed several comprehensive programs to reform United Nations and make this system more reliable and strong. Alongwith this he also constantly promoted human rights, rule of law and strived to bring the organization closer to global people. It was he who urged to establish two new intergovernmental bodies – the Peace building Commission and Human Right Council. He played central role in adoption of UN’s first-ever counter-terrorism strategy, and the acceptance by Member States of ‘responsibility of protection of people from genocide and war crimes, ethnic clashes and crimes against humanity. Even after retiring from his post he still serves the cause of protecting people affected by various clashes. He currently works for implementing policies that will meet the needs of poor and vulnerable subjects. Anan’s efforts have received appreciation from all corners of world and he is proud joint recipient of Nobel Prize for Peace alongwith United Nations.
- Princess Diana – Although she cannot be termed as an office bearer, still the royal princess is a great example of those who used their status and fame to help mankind. Princess Diana was no doubt one of the most famous individuals of all time. She was known for her philanthropy and of the many good things she did, her involvement in AIDS issue is remarkable. It was probably the first time that an eminent figure got involved in AIDS related issues. He tried to de-stigmatize individuals suffering from AIDS. Infact she was the first high profile celebrity to be photographed knowingly touching a person infected with HIV virus. In December 2001 Bill Clinton at ‘Diana, Princess of Wales Lecture on AIDS’ summarized her work as – “In 1987, when so many still believed that AIDS could be contracted through casual contact, Princess Diana sat on the sickbed of a man with AIDS and held his hand. She showed the world that people with AIDS deserve no isolation, but compassion and kindness. It helped change world’s opinion, and gave hope to people with AIDS with an outcome of saved lives of people at risk.” Her contribution to this cause is undisputable.
- Mikhail Gorbachev – He was the general secretary of Soviet Union Communist Party from 1985 – 1991 and the first democratically elected President in 1990. He did have a great political influence and put in tremendous efforts to pave way for democracy, but he also concentrated on economic reforms which were much needed, yet ignored at that time. He designed several strategies that helped reform the economy and open it up to markets. His reforms helped end the Cold War and bringing down of the Berlin Wall. He initiated the concept of gospriyomka which meant state acceptance of production, it was meant to preserve the quality and combat inferior manufacturing. He was surely a significant contributor who helped Russia to achieve economic reforms. Gorbachev was awarded the prestigious Otto Hahn Peace Medal in 1989 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 as well as the Harvey Prize in 1992 in recognition of his efforts.