Staff Reporter

Many of them choose their icons based on the character of the person Many of them choose icons based on the character of the person

Kalam was favoured because of his simplicity Michael Schumacher and Sachin Tendulkar feature at the top among sportspersons

Bangalore: A larger section of the youth choose their "icons" based on the character of the person and not blindly as, perhaps, an older generation did.

When asked, most of them, college students and young professionals alike, said that President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was their favourite icon. They looked up to him because of his simplicity. Rohan, a college student, said: "Despite being the first citizen of the country, he is more humble than many other citizens."

Not too far behind Dr. Kalam is former South African President Nelson Mandela. People chose him as their idol for his selfless fight against racial discrimination. Pooja, a student, admires him because "he moves with the times and sensitises the world through media." Actor Aamir Khan too features quite high on the icons list. Besides being a brilliant actor, the youth look up to him because of his "perfectionist" and "philosophical" nature.

They are quite taken in by his strong belief in democracy and patriotism, including his reserved reactions to a movie of his being "banned" in one State, not for its theme but because he spoke out about the plight of the people displaced by a giant dam project.

Vijay Mallya, one of the biggest business tycoons in India, is also an icon for several people. Naresh, a young professional, believes "he is the perfect idol for youngsters of today. He has made a name for himself and promotes very strongly youth culture through his airline and at events sponsored by his group." Mr. Mallya is popular also because he is of the opinion that India is a rich country and can potentially do anything.

Among sports stars Michael Schumacher and Sachin Tendulkar feature at the top of the popularity list. Schumacher is considered an appropriate icon based primarily on his racing talent. Vaishali, a devout Formula One fan, says of her idol: "His driving is flawless. He is effortlessly excellent."

Tendulkar too is considered a master in his own field. According to Chintan, "He has a passion for the game. He plays not for the money but for the joy of being on the field."

A list of idols is, of course, incomplete without the charismatic Amitabh Bachchan. He came second to none. When asked why people were still overawed by the "Millennium Man," they replied, "Because he is Amitabh Bachchan." He is dignified and down to earth and never undermines another's talent.

Television talk show host Oprah Winfrey also influences the youth in the way she does so much for the community she belongs to. People seem highly impressed with the way she creates awareness about social problems without once having a derogatory opinion. It also speaks volumes for the reach of cable television.