Forbes ‘most powerful’ list and the Indian connection
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is among four Indians who share space with U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao on the Forbes 2009 list of the World’s Most Powerful People.
Those who dominate the list were chosen based on the number of people they influence, their ability to project power beyond their immediate sphere of influence and their control of financial resources.
For Singh, a self-effacing economist who led a resurgent Congress Party to a landslide victory in the general election this year, the accolade is a reflection of how far he has come since his name was proposed as an obvious choice for the post of Prime Minister.
The Congress’ showing in the recent assembly elections in Maharashtra, Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh had set the trend for its performance in subsequent by-elections where it won 10 of the 31 seats contested.
The message was clear. Independent of the shackles of its communist allies, the party led by Singh (placed 36th on the Forbes list) is now free to aggressively push much-needed reforms.
Under Singh, the Indian economy grew at the rate of 6.7 percent in 2008/09 despite inadequate monsoons and a global slowdown.
Singh assured investors at the World Economic Forum of a seven percent growth next year and a medium term objective of achieving a growth rate of 9 percent per annum as the economic downturn shows signs of reversing.
With a net worth pegged at $19.5 billion by Forbes magazine earlier this year, Ambani is thought to be Asia’s richest man.
Forbes says the “ranking is intended to be the beginning of a conversation, not the final word,” but interestingly, some of the names on its power list have strong India connections in their own unusual ways.
Dawood Ibrahim, wanted in connection with the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, ranks 50th on the list and is described as “boss of Mumbai-based organised crime syndicate D-Company.”
Tibetan spiritual leader in exile and Nobel laureate the Dalai Lama (39) fled Tibet to India in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule.
Powerful and influential Indians have often made the Forbes lists. Congress president Sonia Gandhi has appeared on its 100 most powerful women’s list.
From autocrats to multi-billionaires, Forbes judges power based on its own varied criteria. It throws open the question of who has missed its list and deserved to be there.
Is a militant more powerful than the Pope?
But does the common man care beyond his three daily meals? How much bearing does it have on their lives?