Updated March 6th, 2020 at 15:26 IST

Maharaja Ranjit Singh tops poll of world's greatest leaders, beats Churchill and Lincoln

The founder and ruler of the Sikh Empire, Maharaja Ranjit Singh has been voted as the greatest leader in world history by 38 per cent readers of BBC Magazine.

Reported by: Aanchal Nigam
Edited by: Aanchal Nigam
Maharaja Ranjit Singh
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The founder and ruler of the Sikh Empire, Maharaja Ranjit Singh has been voted as the greatest leader in world history by 38 per cent readers of BBC World Histories Magazine. The leader who had defeated Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln during the early 19th century, Singh was nominated by historian Matthew Lockwood, an assistant professor of history at the University of Alabama for establishing “modern empire of toleration”. 

The magazine had asked its readers to vote for the greatest leader from the names that had been nominated by several renowned historians. They had to choose a leader who had “exercised power and had a positive impact on humanity and to explore their achievements and legacy”. It was Maharaja Ranjit Singh who topped the poll and was described by Lockwood as a uniting force whose reign “marked a golden age for Punjab and northwest India”. 

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African leader in the second position

Followed by the first king of Punjab, the leader who came second in the poll was African independence fighter Amílcar Cabral who is remembered for united over a million Guineans to free themselves from Portuguese occupation. Cabral is credited for inspiring many other colonised African countries to raise their voices and fight for independence. While Maharaja Ranjit Singh got 38 per cent of the votes, Cabral received 25 per cent votes by the readers. Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister came in third in the list with seven per cent votes for his contributions to Britain during the World War. He was followed by Abraham Lincoln, the President of the United States.

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Who was Maharaja Ranjit Singh?

Maharaja Ranjit Singh was the founder and the ruler of the Sikh empire in northwest India during the 19th century and has been credited for establishing a modern empire when the region was split between afghan tribes due to the decline of the Mughal empire. According to Lockwood, Singh had established his reign by Afghan raids, fighting among Punjab's various misls (sovereign states) and the emerging presence of British expansion that had left the region politically fragile, economically weak and religiously shattered. Moreover, it was Singh who “reformed and modernised” the Khalsa army and sought a treaty with the British.

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Published March 6th, 2020 at 15:26 IST

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