The most powerful Indians in 2012: No. 11-20https://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others-do-not-use/the-most-powerful-indians-in-2012-no-1120/

The most powerful Indians in 2012: No. 11-20

His proximity to the country's first political family is no secret.

11. Pulok Chatterji,60

Principal Secretary to the PM

New on the list

WHY

His proximity to the country’s first political family is no secret. And he has now taken over as Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister,from where he runs not just the PMO but also drives policy for the entire government. His clout stems from his balancing act between 10 Janpath and 7 Race Course Road.

POWER PUNCH

He was given the assignment of Principal Secretary even before he retired from the IAS. He craftily ejected the PM’s Media Advisor and is quite determined to build a new team in the PMO as he follows a strict no-extension policy.

WHAT NEXT

He is still settling into his job but his imprint is already visible. Chatterji is actively pushing his ideas on governance,timebound accountability and how to firmly enforce the PMO’s writ. His success will be measured by how soon he is able to get the government out of its state of stasis.

BY THE WAY

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He enjoys smoking his pipe. He likes trekking and is a wildlife enthusiast.


12. Mukesh Ambani,54

Chairman,Reliance Industries

Rank ’11: 9

WHY

He remains the Big Boss of India Inc despite an erosion in his personal wealth and a decline in the profitability of Reliance Industries. RIL is still the most valuable listed company in the country. He also retains his status as the second richest man in Asia and the ninth richest in the world with a personal wealth of $22.6 billion—down from $29 billion in the previous year. He had no hesitation in launching arbitration proceedings against the government to resolve the issue of cost recovery from one of RIL’s prominent gas blocks after facing a decline in oil and gas production.

POWER PUNCH

BP Plc of the UK bought a 30 per cent stake in most of RIL’s oil and gas blocks,including the showpiece KG-D6 gas fields,for $7.2 billion in 2011. The deal obtained all key approvals without any hitch. And now,he has the potential to become a media powerhouse after he indirectly picked up majority stake in Network18 and Television18 that run CNBC,CNN-IBN,Colors and a string of other channels besides owning a large chunk of Eenadu,the leading Telugu media house.

WHAT NEXT

The market is keenly watching RIL’s Rs 10,000-crore buyback to bolster the share price of RIL and efforts to step up oil and gas production,as well as his next moves in the media space.

BY THE WAY

He is a wildlife lover. Kruger National Park in South Africa is his favourite haunt.


13. Nitish Kumar,60

Chief Minister of Bihar

Rank ’11: 6

WHY

Over a year into his second term,Nitish Kumar continues to be Bihar’s Turnaround Man. Bihar clocked a 14.15 per cent GDP growth in 2010-11,topping developed states such as Tamil Nadu and Gujarat. Despite the obvious qualifiers—Bihar’s growth is on a low base and its economy remains far too dependent on agriculture—there are unmistakable signs of progress. Where he scores over other dynamic chief ministers is in ensuring that in a state with persisting inequalities and a sizeable minority population,the political culture appears committed to the ideals of social justice and secularism.

POWER PUNCH

Over the last year,even as the Anna Hazare storm raged and then ran out of steam at the Centre,the Nitish government set in motion a series of anti-corruption measures in Bihar. It scrapped MLA funds,confiscated property of those convicted of corruption,and made the declaration of assets mandatory for ministers as well as state personnel.

WHAT NEXT

In Bihar,he will face the challenge of rising expectations and the slow pace of infrastructure growth. But given his ‘secular’ NDA credentials,he will continue to carry huge political weight. At the Centre,speculation about his prime ministerial candidature refuses to die down,especially in a scenario where the Congress and the BJP fail to reach the halfway mark in 2014.

BY THE WAY

A stickler for cleanliness,he carries sanitised paper napkins in choppers,especially during election campaigns.


14. Narendra Modi,61

Chief Minister of Gujarat

Rank ’11: 18

WHY

Notwithstanding the taint of the Gujarat riots,Modi has successfully evolved an unbeatable political model based on development and progress,as a result of which he not only gets elected again and again but is frequently mentioned as a future Prime Minister.

POWER PUNCH

He is the darling of industry and has lured major industrialists to his state. His Sadbhavna fast clearly positioned him as a national leader with not just the top guns of the BJP attending but also high-level representation from Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and NDA allies such as the Akali Dal.

WHAT NEXT

Likely to become third-time chief minister of Gujarat after the next Assembly elections in 2012 but may also make a pitch for the central leadership of the BJP some time in the future as well as the prime-ministerial race in 2014.

BY THE WAY

He wakes up at 5.45 am,reads all newspapers on the Internet,and does yoga for 90 minutes. His favourite dish is khichdi-kadhi.


15. Ratan Tata,74

Chairman,Tata Group

Rank ’11: 39

WHY

This year will be his last as head of India’s largest industrial conglomerate but he leaves behind an enviable legacy. Tata Sons boasts of a total revenue of $83.3 billion (around Rs 3,79,675 cr) in 2010-11,with 58 per cent of this coming from business outside India. Tata companies currently employ over 4,25,000 people worldwide and his revival of Jaguar and Land Rover is a major talking point in global industrial circles.

POWER PUNCH

Despite intense media speculation and scrutiny,the selection of Cyrus Mistry as his heir recently was surprisingly smooth and widely welcomed. What added to the corporate credibility was that Mistry was chosen even though Ratan’s own half-brother,Noel,was in the race.

WHAT NEXT

He will spend his remaining months training Mistry for the top job in Bombay House. Mistry has been accompanying him to meetings with the Prime Minister,Cabinet ministers and Chief Ministers. His revival plans for Nano will also be keenly watched.

BY THE WAY

A dog lover,he once flew his dogs to the US for surgery.


16. S H Kapadia, 64

Chief Justice of India

Rank ’11: 1

WHY

As the Chief Justice of India,his court presided over a stream of litigation that embarrassed the government,from the 2G scam to the age row of Army Chief Gen VK Singh. He led the judiciary through a particularly tough year of mud-throwing and corruption scandals. The CJI’s tenure has also seen a substantial hike in budget allocation for the judiciary in the past one year.

POWER PUNCH

He is a self-confessed recluse who prefers studying his cases for the next day to attending social functions. His grasp of tax law is legendary. His verdict in the Vodafone tax case stated that FDI inflow depends on good governance and that the Indian income tax department had no jurisdiction to tax the $11.076-billion Vodafone-Hutchison offshore deal. It said certainty in tax laws was an essential factor in increasing FDI into India.

WHAT NEXT

Though he retires in September 2012,he will remain an authoritative legal voice in the country.

BY THE WAY

He always uses Natraj pencils instead of pens in open court.


17. Anna Hazare,74

Social & political activist

New on the list

WHY

He makes it to the top 20 for single-handedly bringing the government to its knees on more than one occasion in the last 12 months. Spearheading the anti-corruption movement,he captured the imagination of millions of urban Indians and gave civil society a voice and a face. He allowed,even encouraged,comparisons with Mahatma Gandhi,even though his fasts were made-for-media events.

POWER PUNCH

He has been singularly responsible for the UPA government’s image taking a beating. His repeated fasts forced the government to debate the Lokpal Bill in Parliament. In recent opinion polls,he tops the list of role models,way ahead of Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Gandhi.

WHAT NEXT

The year ended with a reality check. Forced to realise that his repeated indefinite fasts weren’t creating the same kind of magic as before,he changed the tone and tenor of his statements. Also,his health is becoming a cause for concern and could hamper his style of activism.

BY THE WAY

His associate,Dada Pathare,named his son Lokpal who was born on August 28,the day Anna broke his Ramlila fast. “Arre,ye to Lokpal janma hai,” Anna had said.


18. Amar Pratap Singh,59

Director,CBI

Rank ’11: 32

WHY

He goes up in the list and makes it to the top 20 because he’s clearly more powerful this year,with the Central Bureau of Investigation in the forefront of high-profile corruption cases. Singh is also fighting for CBI’s autonomy and independence. He has so far managed to convince the government and Team Anna not to bifurcate CBI. He is also lauded for the role played by CBI in the investigation of the 2G scam.

POWER PUNCH

Despite the odds in the 2G probe which also involved investigations abroad and opposition from the director of prosecution,he gave an opinion to file a chargesheet against Essar-Loop. He has actively opposed putting CBI under Lokpal.

WHAT NEXT

To get CBI out of the Lokpal tangle will be the biggest challenge that lies ahead of Singh as director. The CBI is unhappy with the proposed Lokpal Bill in which the agency’s investigation will be vetted by the Lokpal. How the agency evolves with a Lokpal will depend on how he manages the transition. To find qualified professionals to fill the high number of vacancies in the agency and to upgrade its skills will also be his key challenge.

BY THE WAY

One of the first bureaucrats to get hooked on to iPad.


19. Mulayam Singh Yadav,72

President,Samajwadi Party

New on the list

WHY

He currently heads the third-largest political party in the Lok Sabha and has asserted his agitational brand of politics by marshalling his flock to the well of the House to corner the government on important issues such as price rise and FDI in retail.

POWER PUNCH

As champion of the politics of social justice,he closed ranks with other backward-class politicians in the Lok Sabha last year to force the government to agree to a caste census. The Cabinet conceded and a caste census is under way.

WHAT NEXT

Having been out of power in Lucknow for five years and out of favour in New Delhi,Mulayam faces a tough battle against BSP chief Mayawati in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. Recent polls have suggested that the SP is on a strong electoral wicket which would give a timely boost to his own political fortunes as well as his son’s.

BY THE WAY

An early evening eater,he likes arabi and urad dal for dinner.


20. Akhilesh Yadav,38

UP state chief of Samajwadi Party

New on the list

WHY

Akhilesh has become the man to watch in Uttar Pradesh with his no-nonsense manner and confident approach. He got the party to announce many of its candidates almost a year ahead of the polls. While all eyes were on Rahul Gandhi,the Yadav scion quietly made an early start with the Samajwadi Kranti Rath tour across the state in September last year.

POWER PUNCH

He left nobody in doubt over who calls the shots when he turned down controversial MLA DP Yadav’s request to join the party. And when senior leader Mohan Singh dissented,he was removed from the post of party national spokesman.

WHAT NEXT

The party’s performance in the UP polls will determine the course of his politics and leadership in the party. His moves to transform the Samajwadi Party—getting the party to change its position on computers and English in schools,issues opposed by his father Mulayam Singh Yadav in the past—mark him out as a leader for the future.

BY THE WAY

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A health freak,he tried to keep up with his gym workouts even during hectic campaigning.