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Politics: L.K. Advani

PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images

Politics: L.K. Advani

Age: 81
BJP leader

Best known for his firebrand speeches and controversial embrace of Hindutva (a word that is used to define Hindu-ness), Advani has pushed the Bharatiya Janata Party, India's second-largest political party, into national prominence. In 1992, he rode a chariot through much of India to galvanize support against a 15th century mosque that he claimed had been built over the birth site of a Hindu god. On Dec. 12, 1992, he led a crowd of BJP volunteers and holy men in a destruction of the site. Since then, he has expanded the BJP's appeal to Indians by championing market reforms, promising to be tough on terrorism, and by creating an image of a strong and decisive leader.