56. Amartya Sen,75
His 1998 Nobel for work in welfare economics cemented his status as a thinker on social and political issues. Amartya Sens varied and versatile research has constantly crossed the borders of economics and philosophy,delving into issues of justice,inequality and freedom.
Sens concept of capability,in which he argues that governments should be measured against the capabilities of their citizens,has influenced the formulation of the UNDPs Human Development Report.
He is to be awarded an honorary Doctorate of Letters by the University of Cambridge. He will also serve as the patron of a new school in Bangalore set up by artist H.K. Kejriwal. He continues to write and give lectures.
57. Soli Sorabjee,78,
Having served as solicitor-general and later attorney-general from 1998 till 2004,Sorabjee has had the honour of being the Special Rapporteur to the United Nations Human Rights Commission since 1997.
Following the November 26 terror strikes in Mumbai,Sorabjee filed a PIL in his individual capacity before the Supreme Court,seeking some difficult answers from the government. The court acceded to his points and asked higher-ups in the government to spell out a blueprint for preventing such terror strikes.
Recognised both nationally and internationally for his defence of the freedom of expression and civil rights,Sorabjee will continue to uphold human and constitutional rights.
58. N. Ram,64
He presides over a powerful media empire,firmly established in the countrys south. His ideological identification with the Left considerably accentuated his power and influence in public discourse in the four-and-a-half years when the Left rendered outside support to the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government.
His reports in The Hindu in the late 1980s helped unravel the Bofors scandal. More than two decades later,the scam remains perhaps the most compelling metaphor for political corruption in our country.
Ram will remain an influential chronicler of our political times whether or not the Left returns to a position of power after the 2009 polls. He will also be watched for a business strategy to combat the slowdown.
59. Mata Amritanandamayi Devi,55
Amma is the hugging mother who has embraced at least 30 million people across the world. Accessible to anyone who approaches her,her prayer sessions are major crowd-pullers.
Ever since she began her spiritual mission in 1980,she has rushed millions of rupees in aid to those hit by natural disasters. Recently,her ashram donated Rs 20 crore for the flood-affected in Bihar. She runs a university,a chain of schools,scores of professional education institutions and multi-specialty hospitals. Ammas houses offer food and shelter to millions across the globe.
Amma stays at Amritapuri in Kerala for barely three months a year. The rest of the time,she is usually travelling from one country to another,blessing her devotees.