The most powerful Indians in 2012: No. 31-40https://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others-do-not-use/the-most-powerful-indians-in-2012-no-3140/

The most powerful Indians in 2012: No. 31-40

The civil rights lawyer is riding a wave of legal victories in which the UPA government has had a loss of face.

31. Kanishka Singh,33

Political aide of Rahul Gandhi

New on the list

WHY

He is very close to Rahul Gandhi and is known as the friend,philosopher and guide who runs his office—from appointments to political strategies. With Rahul’s increasing role in party affairs,he is emerging as what Congressmen call “Rahul’s Ahmed Patel”.

POWER PUNCH

Behind the scenes,he was instrumental in dozens of people getting Congress tickets in Punjab,Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.

WHAT NEXT

With Rahul set to play a bigger role in the party,Kanishka’s clout will also grow. Though he maintains a low profile,he is likely to make more direct interventions in Congress affairs after elections.

BY THE WAY

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His colleagues refer to him as K as he signs off SMSes and emails as K.


32. Prashant Bhushan,56

Lawyer and activist

Rank ’11: 61

WHY

The civil rights lawyer is riding a wave of legal victories in which the UPA government has had a loss of face. Through the year,he has won several important cases—from the quashing of PJ Thomas’s appointment as CVC to the cancellation of 122 licences and allocation of 2G spectrum to private companies in 2008. As a member of Team Anna’s core group,he featured prominently as an architect of the Jan Lokpal Bill,and negotiated with the government as a representative of the ‘civil society’.

POWER PUNCH

While cancelling the licences allocated by former telecom minister A Raja,the court said if not for the vigilance and efforts of a few “enlightened” persons,the 2G scam would have never come to light.

WHAT NEXT

As the Bhushans take up more causes,he will be seen juggling his activism with his legal career.

BY THE WAY

He is a science fiction buff.


33. Raman Singh,59

Chief Minister,Chhattisgarh

Rank ’11: 24

WHY

Quietly,almost unnoticed,the once-reluctant leader has acquired a powerful national presence—the only BJP chief minister without the stigma of corruption or communalism. Singh,an Ayurveda doctor,got the chief minister’s post in 2003 after expected candidate Dilip Singh Judeo was caught in a sting operation. Since then,Singh has methodically cut his opponents to size. Governing the worst Naxal-affected state,which is also enormously rich in mineral resources,he has consistently hit the growth chart with innovative schemes.

POWER PUNCH

Only BJP chief minister popular with top UPA ministers. Visiting Congress leaders such as Jairam Ramesh and P Chidambaram prefer to meet him over their Congress colleagues.

WHAT NEXT

Last year saw his authority erode with party

leaders expressing dissent in public. This year could be crucial in how he plays his cards ahead of the 2013 Assembly polls.

BY THE WAY

Loves old Hindi melodies,especially of SD Burman and Naushad. His favourite songs are Aye Mailk Tere Bande Hum and Wo Shaam Kuch Ajeeb Thi.


34. Nandan Nilekani,56

Chairman,UIDAI

Rank ’11: 43

WHY

He successfully made the transition from a software entrepreneur to the spearhead of the ambitious UIDAI project,which aims to roll out Aadhaar numbers to 600 million Indians.

POWER PUNCH

He has come out on top despite resistance from within the government,including an extended turf war with the Home Ministry over the collection of biometrics.

WHAT NEXT

UIDAI is working out the assimilation of data collated from various sources on a single platform. It is currently doing about 20 million enrollments a month.

With 200 million already done,UIDAI is looking to roll out applications in the next few months—NREGA payments,cash transfers,etc.

BY THE WAY

A Dire Straits fan,he practises yoga everyday.


35 Mayawati,56

UP Chief Minister

Rank ’11: 36

WHY

Her authority in Uttar Pradesh remains unquestioned as do her sharp political instincts. She has forced her political opponents to reinvent themselves and bring their GenNext leaders to the fore and subject them to electoral scrutiny. She has also managed—with reasonable success—to dispel the perception that her caste politics was anti-development. Infrastructure projects such as the Yamuna Expressway and the Greater Noida F1 facility are comparable to the best in the world.

POWER PUNCH

She got the state Assembly to pass a resolution for the division of Uttar Pradesh into four different states. Lately,she has been sacking her own ministers. She did not spare even Babu Singh Kushwaha,one of her closest associates for many years. She is also the only CM never to attend a meeting called by the Centre,even if it is chaired by the Prime Minister himself.

WHAT NEXT

Results of the UP elections will decide her next step.

BY THE WAY

She stopped wearing sarees when she entered

electoral politics.


36. Goolam E Vahanvati,62

Attorney General of India

Rank ’11: 44

WHY

Despite having many detractors,Vahanvati continues to have the complete backing of the Prime Minister and senior ministers. The latest victory,in the Army Chief’s case,strengthens his standing.

POWER PUNCH

The Supreme Court was critical of the way the Defence Ministry had processed the Army Chief’s statutory complaint,especially rejecting the complaint on the basis of Vahanvati’s opinion. However,Vahanvati convinced the court that the Army Chief’s age couldn’t be tinkered with at this stage.

WHAT NEXT

Getting the government to reappoint him when his tenure ends later this year.

BY THE WAY

Ever since he landed in New Delhi,his official residence has been the venue of an annual ‘bakra’ party organised by two lawyers.


37. SY Quraishi,64

Chef Election Commissioner of India

Rank ’11: 45

WHY

As the Chief Election Commissioner of the world’s largest democracy,he commands respect from all political parties,ruling and opposition alike.

POWER PUNCH

Held Assembly elections for West Bengal,Tamil Nadu,Puducherry,Kerala and Assam last year. Aware of the political violence in the run-up to the West Bengal Assembly elections,he demonstrated his authority by holding elections in the state in six phases to achieve violence-free polling while holding a single-phase election in Tamil Nadu. When Law Minister Salman Khurshid defied the Commission,he wrote to the President—prompting an immediate regret.

WHAT NEXT

His plate appears to be full this year with five Assembly elections early in the year and two,including the one in politically important Gujarat,in the second half. The CEC can hope to push through a clutch of electoral reforms this year.

BY THE WAY

A music buff,he organises jam sessions at home. He has even invented a special guitar.


38. D Subbarao,63

Governor,Reserve Bank of India

Rank ’11: 11

WHY

As the key architect of monetary policy,Subbarao designed the central bank’s strategy against inflation by tightening interest rates and money supply. To criticism that he was choking growth,he responded by saying that the policy freeze in the government in key areas also contributed to the slowdown.

POWER PUNCH

After his three-year term as RBI Governor ended in August 2011,the government extended his tenure by two years. This despite the fact that there were many in the race to succeed him.

WHAT NEXT

He’s expected to play a major role in revival of the growth rate,bringing down interest rates and keeping inflation under control. As the global turmoil continues to wreak havoc everywhere,he will have to take steps to protect the Indian economy,step up demand and help boost growth back to the nine per cent plus level.

BY THE WAY

A topper in the IAS entrance exams in 1972,he is one of the first IITians to join the services.


39. LK Advani,84

Senior BJP leader

Rank ’11: 37

WHY

Continues to be the BJP’s fulcrum though he no longer holds any official post in the party. Given the mistrust among the second-rung BJP leadership,Advani becomes the natural mentor to whom everyone turns to during a crisis.

POWER PUNCH

He proved that politically he was notches above others in the BJP when he embarked on yet another yatra,this time on the issue of corruption. He put the focus on himself and enlisted Sangh support for the yatra. As working chairperson of NDA,he has not stopped his endeavour to expand the opposition alliance—he brought Ramdas Athavale into the NDA fold recently.

WHAT NEXT

Though he turned 84 recently,he is still thought to be in the reckoning for the BJP’s prime-ministerial candidate. His health and age will certainly be factors that will decide whether he is in or not. His counsel though will continue to be sought.

BY THE WAY

He reads four to five books every week.


40. Kaushik Basu,60

Chief Economic Advisor,Finance Ministry

Rank ’11: 46

WHY

The Finance Ministry’s Chief Economic Advisor has become one of its most proactive officials as well as its most articulate spokesperson. During his tenure at North Block,Basu has become famous for not only addressing tricky issues such as inflation but for also pushing boundaries,be it by redesigning the Economic Survey or by coming up with innovative solutions for corruption.

POWER PUNCH

The Cornell University professor chaired an inter-ministerial group on inflation. He is also a vocal supporter of FDI in multi-brand retail.

WHAT NEXT

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Basu will be presenting his last Economic Survey next month,before his two-year term with the Finance Ministry comes to an end. He is credited with revamping it into a more forward-looking and vibrant annual statement that brings forth a number of new issues.

BY THE WAY

He has created a two-player board game,Dui-Doku.