The most powerful Indians in 2013: Top Public Figures

In essence,The Indian Express Power List is a reflection of power struggle that has been in evidence over the past 12 months.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: April 23, 2013 1:07:36 am

Central Bureaucrats

1 Pulok Chatterji

Considered the most powerful bureaucrat,the Principal Secretary to the PM cracks the whip on ministries to put them back on the high-growth path.

2 Shivshankar Menon

The National Security Advisor has warded off attempts to encroach on his territory and maintains the primacy of his position in security matters.

3 Ranjit Sinha

Having got the position amid much mud-slinging,the CBI Director has been applying himself quietly to numerous politically sensitive cases.

4 D Subbarao

The RBI Governor has been nudging the government to curb its fiscal profligacy and has adopted a strong stance on cutting interest rates.

5 Vinod Rai

This CAG has troubled the government like no one before him,both with words and deeds on issues from 2G spectrum to farm-loan waiver.

6 Sindhushree Khullar

On a two-year extension,the Planning Commission Secretary monitors the implementation of the Direct Benefits Transfer Scheme.

7 Asif Ibrahim

The first Muslim to become the Director of Intelligence Bureau,he has access to the first family of the ruling party.

8 R K Singh

Despite embarrassing the government many times,the Home Secretary virtually runs the ministry in the absence of a powerful minister.

9 K Raju

The Additional Secretary in the Sonia Gandhi-led NAC is responsible for ensuring that the government does not lose sight of the social sectors.

10 Arvind Mayaram

Called from the Rural Development Ministry when P Chidambaram took over as FM,Secretary,DEA,works to ensure fiscal consolidation.

Talking Heads

1 Pratap Bhanu Mehta

An Indian Express columnist and President of Centre for Policy Research,he is one of India’s most thoughtful public commentators.

2 Aruna Roy

One of the most visible faces in Sonia Gandhi’s National Advisory Council,her perspectives on social policy are hugely influential.

3 Swapan Dasgupta

A leading voice of the right in the media,he is also one of the few conservative intellectuals in the country.

4 Aamir Khan

His television show Satyamev Jayate drew new and widespread attention to social issues like female foeticide,public health,disability.

5 C Raja Mohan

The Indian Express columnist is a convincing voice on how India should deal with its neighbours.

6 Swaminathan A Aiyar

Aiyar writes one of India’s most thoughtful and engaging columns on economics and politics in The Times of India.

7 Arnab Goswami

A self-styled upholder of national interest,he has pioneered a personal,hectoring style in TV news and often sets the discourse.

8 Tavleen Singh

An Express columnist,she is known for her sharp and forthright views. She has written four books on Indian politics.

9 APJ Abdul Kalam

This former president,scientist and tireless writer of books is still enormously popular.

10 Justice Markandey Katju

The retired Supreme Court judge and now Chairman of the Press Council of India airs opinions that often make news.


1 M S Dhoni

The 31-year-old became the most successful Indian skipper when he went past Sourav Ganguly’s 21 Test wins with a series victory over Australia.

2 N Srinivasan

The fact that the referral system (DRS) is not used in any series involving India,speaks of the clout of the man who can be the next ICC president.

3 Virat Kohli

The 24-year-old is tipped to be the next India skipper. He is one of the handful of batsmen who command a place in all three formats of the game.

4 Sachin Tendulkar

In spite of a sharp dip in form,his experience and class will play a role as Indian cricket grapples with the retirement of Rahul Dravid and V V S Laxman.

5 Narinder Batra

The Hockey India secretary is responsible for changing the profile of the game by successfully launching the Hockey India League.

6 Randhir Singh

He is India’s member at the International Olympic Council,served as Indian Olympic Association general secretary for over two decades.

7 Subrata Roy

The founder-chairman of the Sahara India Pariwar has invested in cricket,hockey,Formula One,and sponsors some of India’s Olympic winners.

8 Arun Jaitley

A vice-president of the Indian cricket board,the BJP leader is tipped to be nominated as president before N Srinivasan’s term expires next year.

9 Saina Nehwal

The Olympic bronze-medal winner currently has a Rs 40 crore endorsement deal,which is higher than some of the top cricketers in the country.

10 Jitendra Singh

The 41-year-old Sports Minister’s tenure has coincided with the IOC banning the IOA. He will find a middle ground acceptable to all parties.


1 Raghuram Rajan

The Chief Economic Adviser of the Finance Ministry is using his vast international expertise to revive the Indian economy.

2 C Rangarajan

A close aide of PM Manmohan Singh,his suggestion to tax the super rich was the key revenue mobilisation provision in Budget 2013-14.

3 Abhijit Banerjee

The MIT Professor is rewriting the rules for government’s engagement with the poor. He supports Aadhaar and specific welfare interventions.

4 YV Reddy

The former RBI Governor has begun a comprehensive review of the country’s finances as Chairman of the Fourteenth Finance Commission.

5 Arvind Panagariya

This Columbia University Professor has re-ignited the debate on growth and the Gujarat model of development.

6 Surjit Bhalla

When he writes,controversies gather around his sharp analysis. He has an ability to spot trends early.

7 Isher Judge Ahluwalia

Chairperson of ICRIER,she works closely with the government on issues related to urbanisation.

8 Partho Mukhopadhyay

With vast expertise in infrastructure,he actively works with the government to iron out issues related to railways and roads.

9 Ila Patnaik

The Indian Express columnist and a professor at NIPFP played a vital role with the Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission.

10 Indira Rajaraman

A member of the Central Board of Governors of the RBI,she is one of the leading authorities on fiscal issues in the country.

Ad gurus

1 Piyush Pande

As Chairman of Ogilvy & Mather,he inspires great work churned out by the country’s most creative and awarded agency.

2 Prasoon Joshi

President of McCann WorldGroup,South Asia,he is also a lyricist,screen writer and creative director,much younger than his peers.

3 R. Balakrishnan

The highly creative Chairman of Lowe Lintas makes acclaimed advertisements as well as Bollywood films.

4 Sam Balsara

He runs the country’s largest home-grown and most lucrative media-buying agency Madison Media.

5 Ranjan Kapoor

Sir Martin Sorrell’s most trusted man and the country manager of the WPP group since 2004. Last year,Sorrell gave him charge of the floundering Bates India.

6 Vikram Sakhuja

The first India-based CEO of a global media agency,Maxus, declared the fastest-growing globally for the past three years.

7 Rohit Ohri

The Chairman of Dentsu India has made several high-profile acquisitions,won big clients and attracted industry talent.

8 C V L Srinivas

Last year,Martin Sorell picked up this old GroupM hand to lead his media-buying empire in India accounting for 45 pc of media spend in the country.

9 Arvind Sharma

Chairman of Leo Burnett was elected President of the ad industry’s most powerful body and has since led many industry initiatives.

10 Agnello Dias

He founded,made a success of and sold off his dream agency,Taproot,to Dentsu last year.

Headline Hunters

1 Subramanian Swamy

His tenacity in pursuing people he loves to hate is legendary but it is his hatred for the first family of the Congress party which he has developed into his USP.

2 Markandey Katju

The incorrigibly contemptuous Chairman of the Press Council of India has a provocative opinion on everyone and everything.

3 Arvind Kejriwal

The self-righteous activist-turned-politician denigrates every other practitioner of his trade. He is making his very career out of that.

4 V K Singh

As Army chief,he took on the government,and continued to do so even after he retired. He was quick to attach himself to activists and politicians of various hues.

5 Beni Prasad Verma

The Cabinet minister has got himself noticed by targeting his one-time mentor Mulayam Singh Yadav,making the Congress uncomfortable.

6 Suhel Seth

This loud and opinionated marketing maven is a permanent fixture on TV debates and isn’t afraid of talking back.

7 P C George

The Kerala Congress (M) leader rakes up controversies involving his rivals,most recently making forest minister KB Ganesh’s marital discord public.

8 Kirit Somaiya

This former BJP MP quite regularly digs up financial dirt on Congress politicians.

9 Aniruddha Bahal

The master of sting operations resurfaces with one more stink every time he seems to have faded out.

10 Swami Agnivesh

The saffron-clad activist has a great ability to hob-nob with diverse groups and the government. He creates a controversy wherever he goes.

Fund Managers

1 S Naren

An old hand at fund management,the CIO at ICICI Prudential AMC is known for his contrarian bets. His equity schemes performed very well last year.

2 Sunil Singhania

The CIO at Reliance MF focuses on high-growth business models. In 2012,several schemes bounced back as top performers.

3 Sukumar Rajah

MD and CIO of Franklin Templeton has led the fund house to deliver strong returns over the long term and even in the last one year.

4 Prashant Jain

Known for consistent performance without undue risk,the ED and CIO of HDFC MF is well established in industry and among investors.

5 S Naganath

President and CIO at DSP Blackrock,he keeps his schemes among top performers with a flexible investment approach and focus on quality.

6 Navneet Munot

The CIO of SBI Mutual Fund has consistently generated superior risk-adjusted returns. Several schemes outperformed the market under his leadership.

7 Kenneth Andrade

Known for picking future blue-chip investments,the CIO at IDFC MF keeps up to his reputation.

8 Anoop Bhaskar

Head of equity at UTI MF,he has successfully shown his ability of to select stocks along with taking risks for good.

9 Mahesh Patil

The long-term approach has paid well for the schemes managed by the co-chief investment officer of Birla SunLife AMC.

10 Chandresh Nigam

Focusing on businesses and companies that will generate returns in the long term,the head of investments at Axis MF has generated strong performance.


1 Aruna Roy

With the entry of Kejriwal and company into electoral politics,the NAC member is the most cogent critic of the government’s policies.

2 Teesta Setalvad

Narendra Modi appearing on the national stage has only heightened the importance of the woman who took him on on his home turf.

3 Madhu Kishwar

The academic and women rights activist is one of the very few eminent intellectuals who have stood up for Narendra Modi.

4 Jean Dreze

A former member of the NAC,Dreze has been a relentless crusader for issues ranging from gender inequality,child health to poverty alleviation.

5 Medha Patkar

Even as the anti-corruption movement of which she had been a part lost the initial advantage,she remains steadfast in her causes.

6 Binayak Sen

The Chhattisgarh doctor who shot to national consciousness after his questionable imprisonment is a permanent presence at Jantar Mantar.

7 S P Udayakumar

He headed the agitation against the Koodankulam nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu and turned it into a national issue.

8 Arvind Kejriwal

Though he has been accused of denting the image of the anti-corruption movement by forming a political party,he has not lost all his hold on masses.

9 Manisha Sethi

The Jamia professor has protested against the police picking up Muslim men on terror charges indiscriminately.

10 Anna Hazare

He is no longer the rockstar of activism after his bitter parting of ways with Arvind Kejriwal. But he is still seen as a committed activist.

State Bureaucrats


The most powerful bureaucrat in Gujarat. Popularly known as KK,the Additional Chief Secretary is CM Narendra Modi’s ‘ideas man’.


Chhattisgarh CM’s Principal Secretary and Industry Secretary,N Baijendra Kumar calls the shots in the administration.


The first non-IAS officer to serve as secretary in the CM’s office of Mamata Banerjee,Sanyal plays the boss with even those he once reported to.


As Special Principal Secretary to Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal,all important decisions are routed through him. He is the link between the two Badals.


The Madhya Pradesh Chief Secretary keeps a low profile and shares CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s interest in agriculture.


The Delhi Chief Secretary is considered the guiding force behind CM Sheila Dikshit’s policies. He defended the govt before the CAG.


The Rajasthan Chief Secretary is considered CM Ashok Gehlot’s confidant. He was made CS pipping at least half of his seniors to the post.


Secretary to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav,she was Mulayam Singh Yadav’s first choice for the post when SP returned to power in 2012.


Additional Principal Secretary to Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda,he has been in the think tank of the government for the last eight years.


The Principal Secretary with the CM Secretariat in Bihar,he is the chief planner and troubleshooter of the government.


1 Justice Altamas Kabir

Questions over judicial overreach notwithstanding,the Supreme Court led by him continues to make life difficult for the government.

2 Justice J S Verma

He continues to be ‘the jurist to go to’ when tricky matters confront the government,like the Delhi gang rape. His is usually the last word on matters of judiciary.

3 Goolam Vahanvati

The Attorney General is the government’s best bet in warding off its mounting legal woes.

4 Fali Nariman

He remains the most sought-after lawyer for individuals,corporates as well as many state governments like Karnataka in the Cauvery matter.

5 Prashant Bhushan

While the activist-lawyer’s focus may have shifted to politics via the Aam Aadmi Party,PILs filed by him rattle the UPA government.

6 Ram Jethmalani

A big sign outside his house says he is not taking fresh briefs,but that doesn’t stop big cash-rich litigants from chasing him.

7 Mohan Parasaran

The recently appointed Solicitor General has the acumen to assist the courts in understanding the government’s point of view.

8 Harish Salve

One of the country’s highest-paid lawyers,Salve continues to win high-value cases for many of his clients.

9 Justice P Sathasivam

The soft-spoken judge will take over as Chief Justice of India in mid-July and remain at the helm for the next nine months.

10 O P Saini

All eyes are on the Special CBI Court judge as the 2G trial gathers steam,with his probing questions for the CBI and the government.

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