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BBC World Histories names Maharaja Ranjit Singh the ‘Greatest Leader of All Time’

by Ashima

We revisit the poll for some much-needed good news!

By Ashima Sethi

Considering a lot of the news nowadays is doom and gloom, we’d like to shift focus onto nicer things and remind you all about a 2020 BBC poll regarding the ‘Greatest Leaders of All Time’.

BBC World Histories Magazine organised a poll that saw 5,000 readers vote for the individual they believed had the biggest impact as a leader. Taking the top position is Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the 19th century ruler of the Sikh Empire in India. Known as the ‘Lion of Punjab,’ Singh won first place with 38 percent of the votes, with readers praising him for uniting the Sikhs as he was the first Maharaja. They also voiced their admiration for his role in making the Sikh Empire a prosperous one.

A leader that many historians think we can benefit from his example these days, Singh provided his people with a sense of stability. He represented tolerance and a more inclusive-model of state-building. Although he moved towards modernising the Sikh Khalsa Army and embraced western innovation, he was a ruler who still prioritised and respected existing local structures and institutions.

In second place is Amílcar Cabral, an African Independence Fighter was is best known for his work to unite more than 1 million Guineans, allowing them to free themselves from Portuguese occupation. This then led to other African countries existing under colonial rule to rise up and fight for their own independence. In third, Prime Minister Winston Churchill who was celebrated for keeping Britain in the war; in fourth is American President Abraham Lincoln; and rounding the top five is Queen Elizabeth I, the last Tudor monarch.

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