Many decades ago, at the height of the Vietnam War, Noam Chomsky wrote an essay on the role of public intellectuals and why they must use their positions to speak truth to power and sift out the lies being peddled to distract people’s attention. Indian democracy offers such a privilege not only to intellectuals, but also to people who have made a name for themselves and are often in the public glare, directly or through their work. What is disturbing is that while it is important to uphold the truth, ‘feigned naivete’ tends to takes over. As Einstein had warned us, “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.” That is why the individuals who champion democratic values and help make our country a better informed and fairer place need to be feted. This list is a celebration of the efforts of such influencers, without whom we would have only a limited perspective of the world.