[caption id="attachment_2683887" align="alignnone" width="840"] Some of the personalities who made it to The Indian Express power list for this year.[/caption] If a week is a long time in politics, a year is more than 52 times longer. That's the one headline of IE 100, The Indian Express power list for this year. The second in the Narendra Modi government, it is a telling indicator of continuity — and change. On the face of it, there are no dramatic power-shifts, Modi remains an unchallenged Number 1, his third in a row, but go down the list and there are movements up and down. In contrast to last year, the Opposition has gained some space – and reclaimed some power. The BJP's shock defeat in Delhi and Bihar, the continuing economic slowdown, the debate over intolerance, the murder in Dadri and, more recently, the campus unrests, have all been grist to the Opposition’s mill. As the government heads into another session of Parliament against the backdrop of the showdown at Jawaharlal Nehru University and violent Jat clashes in its backyard, the big question is: will this year's Budget, considered to have the PM’s imprint more than ever, change these headlines? Because, well, he can — given the way his office has empowered itself over the last year. Be it asking for status reports from secretaries or pulling up ministries. That explains why the top three in the list are the same as the top three last time, though Mohan Bhagwat and Amit Shah have traded places. Last month, Shah got a second term as BJP president but after two big defeats, he is under pressure to deliver in the states that go to polls this spring. Watch: The List Of Most Powerful Indians (Click here) [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZYMsvnBiTg] With the Bihar win giving them a new wind, Sonia and a newly aggressive Rahul Gandhi are keeping the government on their toes. The victory has also renewed talk of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar emerging as the fulcrum of opposition politics, lifting him from 26 to 13. Lalu Prasad, after his triumphant comeback, jumps from 55 to 27. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal may have dropped one position but he stays in the top 10. Not just because of his interventions, be it in the odd-even environment debate, or in the students' protest but, more significantly, in the way in which he has transformed the AAP-BJP fight into one of Centre vs state: around governance, rather than politics. Smriti Irani, who didn’t back off from any controversy in 2015, made as much impact — whether involving vice-chancellors or mere students. Mehbooba Mufti takes the place of late father Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, though some ranks up as she keeps the BJP hanging on forming a government in J&K, while likely kingmaker Badruddin Ajmal figures courtesy the coming Assam elections. The other gainer is strategist Prashant Kishor, who comes out of nowhere at No. 96. N Srinivasan makes an exit after his inglorious removal as BCCI chief, while Amazon's entry has seen Sachin and Binny Bansal of Flipkart drop out of the top 100 ranking. With Vasundhara Raje holding firm, weathering the IPL crisis as of now, Sachin Pilot has also slipped out. Sania Mirza, who has risen to No. 1 in tennis women double's rankings, comes in at 85, ahead of M S Dhoni, who is in the last leg of his cricket career. Riding high on her successful American TV series, Priyanka Chopra makes it to No. 98. This year's IE 100 also tells another story, in footnotes: some of the biggest challenges to those in the power list have come from individuals, unseen and unheard, as much as from the events they set off. Be it Mohammad Akhlaq, a father of three in Dadri, or a 26-year-old PhD student who killed himself in his Hyderabad hostel room.
[caption id="attachment_2683221" align="alignnone" width="840"] PM Narendra Modi[/caption] Rank 1: Narendra Modi, 65, Prime Minister of India Rank in 2015: 1 Why: Because despite the storm around him — the intolerance debate, the defeat in Bihar, the Rohith Vemula suicide, the JNU crisis — he remains the unchallenged No 1. Under Modi, the PMO has become the epicentre of all important, and some not-so-important, decisions, with the ministries often being bypassed. A floundering economy and the continuing debate over the government’s Hindutva agenda have put a question mark over his leadership style, with the man, who is often criticised for speaking too much, maintaining a stoic silence over key issues. But so far, his opponents have been unable to find an answer to Modi’s popularity. Power Punch: The surprising decision to fly in to meet Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for lunch on his way back from Afghanistan. What Next: The coming Budget and the elections will be a test of his politics and his economics. By the way: Modi likes his bhakhri and khichdi even at 7, RCR.
[caption id="attachment_2683222" align="alignnone" width="840"] Mohan Bhagwat[/caption] Rank 2: Mohan Bhagwat, 65, RSS sarsanghchalak Rank in 2015: 3 Why: Under him, the RSS has grown enormously, both within and outside the country. While Narendra Modi is seen to have complete Sangh backing, Bhagwat has ensured that the RSS maintains its distinct and larger identity as a flagbearer of Hindu pride. He is never seen following the PM or his men, and, crucially, did not even attend Modi’s swearing-in. Power Punch: Despite his remarks on reservation that supposedly cost the BJP the Bihar elections, he remained unruffled. The Sangh too never sounded apologetic, only seeking to “explain” the stance of its sarsanghchalak. What Next: 2016 will see if his grip on the Sangh, in states going to polls this year, gets translated into electoral results for the BJP. By the way: He is a fan of Reader’s Digest.
[caption id="attachment_2683723" align="alignnone" width="840"] Amit Shah[/caption] Rank 3: Amit Shah, 51, BJP president Rank in 2015: 2 Why: Because he is second to none in the party organisation, publicly admitting that he reports to nobody else but “Narendrabhai”. Shah was re-elected BJP president for a full term without any opposition, despite the electoral routs suffered by the party in Delhi and Bihar and despite complaints from partymen about him being inaccessible. Power Punch: The RSS too has chosen to stand by him despite objections from party veterans such as L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi. The BJP is the “largest party in the world” now, after a much-publicised membership drive launched by Shah. What Next: With his formula flopping in Delhi and Bihar, Shah has much to prove in the Assembly polls this year in West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Can he expand the social base of the BJP while ensuring that Hindutva is not diluted is the question. By the way: Shah keeps a daily diary.
[caption id="attachment_2683725" align="alignnone" width="840"] Arun Jaitley[/caption] Rank 4: Arun Jaitley, 63, Finance, I&B Minister Rank in 2015: 4 Why: Despite the controversy around the Delhi & District Cricket Administration, the crisis in the government banking sector and the slow growth on the economic front, Arun Jaitley’s clout remains undiminished. He is still the key trouble-shooter and brain trust in the Modi government. Power Punch: With exports on the decline and private investment remaining weak, he has to live up to the promise of higher growth and achche din. What Next: All eyes are on the forthcoming Budget, with both investors and the common man hoping to finally see some positives. After the setback on planned changes in the land acquisition law and the GST Bill, he has to find a way to get the Opposition on his side in the coming Budget session. By the Way: Except for some antique pieces, he recently handed over his long-time collection of watches to his son and daughter.
[caption id="attachment_2683732" align="alignnone" width="840"] New Delhi: Congress President Sonia Gandhi during At Home on Independence Day at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi on Friday.[/caption] Rank 5: Sonia Gandhi, 69, Congress president Rank in 2015: 5 Why: The longest serving president of the Congress, now at the helm for 18 years, Sonia remains the last word in the grand old party and continues to command the respect of her rivals. Despite the debacle of being reduced to 44 seats in the Lok Sabha polls, she has led the party in giving a fight to Prime Minister Narendra Modi inside the House, and now outside. Power Punch: “I am not scared, I am Indira Gandhi’s daughter-in-law.” With this one sentence, she dramatically altered the Congress’s fightback in The National Herald case from a mere legal challenge to a spirited political offensive. What Next: Transfer of power to son Rahul Gandhi is on the cards, but she is not likely to remain a mere figurehead later. The immediate challenge, however, is to return to power in Assam and Kerala. By the Way: She is very fond of idlis, especially those from a south Indian restaurant in Defence Colony.
[caption id="attachment_2683748" align="alignnone" width="840"] New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee addressing the nation on the eve of 67th Republic Day Celebration at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Monday.[/caption] Rank 6: Pranab Mukherjee, 80 President of India Rank in 2015: 6 Why: He occupies the most famous address in the country, but that’s not the only reason he makes it to the list. The President has time and again proved that he is anything but a rubber stamp, taking on the government on a range of issues, from ordinances to removal of vice-chancellors of central universities. Power Punch: Amid the intolerance debate, Mukherjee made repeated references to the need for tolerance and the importance of pluralism in Indian civilisation. Addressing a rally before the Bihar polls, Modi heeded his words and, amidst the row over the Dadri lynching, said, “President’s message is our guiding principle.” What Next: This is Mukherjee’s last year in office, unless he manages a second term. He could take up teaching assignments like his predecessor A P J Abdul Kalam did. By the Way: Mukherjee swears by football and has a sweet tooth. Of late, he has cut down on non-veg food.
[caption id="attachment_2683730" align="alignnone" width="840"] Rajnath Singh[/caption] Rank 7: Rajnath Singh, 64 Home Minister Rank in 2015: 8 Why: As Union Home Minister, he is Number 2 in the government, and enjoys the complete backing of the RSS. The RSS leadership is believed to have impressed upon the government that Singh should be kept in the loop on all major decisions. Parties across the political spectrum are comfortable dealing with him on contentious issues. He is often seen engaging with Muslim groups as well. Power Punch: While the government’s handling of the Pathankot terror attack came in for flak, Singh remained largely unscathed. What Next: With the UP Assembly elections two years away, Singh is under pressure to lift his party’s fortunes in the state. His stewardship of the country’s security set-up, amid talk of the National Security Advisor emerging as an alternative power centre, will also be tested. By the Way: An M.Sc in physics, he is fond of quoting Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, as it is “drawn from the Vedas”.
[caption id="attachment_2683729" align="alignnone" width="840"] Arvind Kejriwal[/caption] Rank 8: Arvind Kejriwal, 47 Delhi Chief Minister Rank in 2015: 7 Why: He never misses an opportunity to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the central government. To Arvind Kejriwal’s advantage, as chief minister of Delhi, he enjoys almost as much media space and TV airtime as the PM. Power Punch: When the CBI conducted raids on his principal secretary Rajendra Kumar, Kejriwal immediately took the fight to the Central government and laid charges on Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s doorstep vis-a-vis the Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA). He is also the first CM to activate government intervention to combat air pollution with the odd-even scheme, whose success silenced many critics. What Next: Having won four Lok Sabha seats from the state in 2014, Kejriwal will seek to make big gains in the coming Punjab Assembly elections. By the Way: Kejriwal rarely misses a new movie released in theatres. He also gives his staff a detailed review of the movie.
[caption id="attachment_2683728" align="alignnone" width="840"] Rahul Gandhi[/caption] Rank 9: Rahul Gandhi, 45 Congress vice-president Rank in 2015: 11 Why: While still not Congress president, Rahul is now virtually driving the party policy, including its hardline stance against the BJP government and its constant attacks on the RSS. Since a mystery 60-odd-day break a year ago, the 45-year-old has remained very much in the public eye — going to Hyderabad Central University after Rohith Vemula’s suicide and to JNU to express his solidarity with the striking students, and taking the government on in Parliament. When Rahul went on a vacation on New Year, the party made it a point to announce it in advance, on Twitter. Power Punch: Having once propagated the go-solo line, he played a role in bringing Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad together in Bihar for the Assembly polls and hitching the Congress onto the Mahagathbandhan bandwagon. For the first time since 2014, the Congress found itself on the winning side, getting 27 seats. What Next: Rahul says he is ready to take over as Congress president; the Congress maintains it is up to Rahul to decide. His coronation is said to be a matter of time, or rather a matter of timing. By the Way: Rahul is a black belt in aikido, a modern Japanese martial art form.
[caption id="attachment_2683746" align="alignnone" width="840"] Sushma Swaraj[/caption] Rank 10: Sushma Swaraj, 64 Minister for External Affairs Rank in 2015: 9 Why: With PM Narendra Modi taking the lead in foreign affairs, including holding grand rallies abroad for the diaspora, Sushma Swaraj has played the role of a perfect anchor in the government. She has been handling the nuts and bolts of the ministry. She actively helps out Indians in distress overseas, who often approach her directly on Twitter, something which has earned her immense goodwill. Power Punch: After the Rajya Sabha passed the Bangladesh land boundary Bill, Swaraj, who had piloted the legislation, acknowledged the UPA government’s role in the initiative, and walked across the aisle to greet former prime minister Manmohan Singh. What Next: The Minister for External Affairs will be laying the groundwork for visits planned by Modi to key countries this year, including Israel, and may also be travelling more than last year. By the Way: Swaraj chooses colour of her saris depending on day of the week. When she met Pakistan leaders in Islamabad last December, she wore green —a choice not driven by the country’s colours but because it was a Wednesday.
[caption id="attachment_2683745" align="alignnone" width="840"] Justice T S Thakur[/caption] Rank 11: T S Thakur, 64 Chief Justice of India Rank in 2015: 38 Why: With a reputation for not mincing words and for not taking long to pass orders once he is convinced, Thakur has a tough job on his hands as he begins to fill the large number of vacancies in the higher judiciary, which have risen sharply in the wake of a battle of nerves between the political class and the judiciary over the manner of appointment of judges. Power Punch: When he issued a string of directives to curb rising pollution and ensured strict compliance by all the authorities through regular monitoring. What Next: Justice Thakur is likely to lead the bench that will decide whether the law criminalising homosexuality should go. He is also monitoring the implementation of reforms in BCCI as per recommendations of a high-powered committee, headed by one of his predecessors, Justice R L Lodha. By the Way: He does a lot of his non-judicial writing in Urdu.
[caption id="attachment_2683739" align="alignnone" width="840"] Nitish Kumar[/caption] Rank 12: Nitish Kumar, 64 Bihar Chief Minister Rank in 2015: 26 Why: In dealing a decisive blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Bihar elections, Nitish Kumar has emerged as the nucleus of anti-Modi politics and is being seen as the obvious leader should a third front take shape for the 2019 general elections. Power Punch: The JD(U) leader refused to give in to Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav’s demands for more seats during the Bihar polls, to the extent of risking the grand alliance dreams. Eventually, the SP drew a blank. Nitish also overrode apprehensions to agree to an equal division of seats in the Bihar elections with the RJD. The RJD didn’t disappoint. What Next: The third-time CM (if one discounts his seven-day stint in 2000) has little left to prove in Bihar, and his only destination can be Delhi. By the Way: Nitish worked as an electrical engineer for a day at Bihar State Electricity Board, Ranchi, in 1973. The next day, he returned to Patna and joined student politics.
[caption id="attachment_2683733" align="alignnone" width="840"] Smriti Irani[/caption] Rank 13: Smriti Irani, 39 HRD Minister Rank in 2015: 12 Why: Despite never straying too far from controversy, Irani is understood to have the confidence of both PM Narendra Modi and the RSS. Modi has often publicly acknowledged initiatives undertaken by her ministry in his Mann ki Baat radio show. She continues to take on Rahul Gandhi on his home turf and has visited Amethi six times since the Lok Sabha elections in 2014. Power Punch: Forced the sacking of Visva Bharati University vice-chancellor Sushanta Dattagupta, despite President Pranab Mukherjee informally telling the ministry that he should be allowed to retire. It was the first ever sacking of the head of a central university. What Next: Her frequent trips to Uttar Pradesh, especially Amethi, have got many speculating about her political ambitions — will Irani be the BJP CM candidate in Uttar Pradesh? By the Way: She almost never steps out of home without wearing something red.
[caption id="attachment_2683736" align="alignnone" width="840"] Mehbooba Mufti[/caption] Rank 14: Mehbooba Mufti, 56 Peoples Democratic Party chairperson New on the list Why: She became a leader by chance and later learned the ropes of politics from her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. She encouraged her father to form his own political party and then played a pivotal role in shaping the PDP, which emerged as the single largest party in Jammu and Kashmir in the 2014 elections. Power Punch:After the death of her father, she didn’t rush to take oath as the first woman chief minister of the state despite the pulls and pressures from alliance partner BJP and other forces. She is playing hardball and trying to bargain with top BJP leadership and Union ministries for a deal which will benefit her party in the long run. Despite forming an alliance with the BJP, she openly advocates talks with separatists and Pakistan. What Next: What will she extract in return for keeping the alliance with the BJP going? By the Way: She is fond of wearing trendy abayas, especially in green, the colour of the PDP flag.
[caption id="attachment_2683747" align="alignnone" width="840"] Mamata Banerjee[/caption] Rank 15: Mamata Banerjee, 61 West Bengal Chief Minister Rank in 2015: 15 Why: Her strength lies in the numbers she commands — 34 Lok Sabha MPs and 12 in RS — giving her an unmatched power of political manoeuvering. Prime Minister Narendra Modi keeps her in good humour; she is with Sonia Gandhi on her birthday; and is with Arvind Kejriwal of AAP to protest the CBI raids in his office. Despite her belligerence on the Modi government, her finance minister Amit Mitra was elected chairman of the Empowered Committee on GST. In September 2015, she declassified all the Netaji files of the West Bengal government, forcing the Modi government to follow suit in January this year. Power Punch: In December 2015, Pakistani ghazal singer Ghulam Ali's concert in Mumbai was cancelled after the Shiv Sena objected to his presence in the city. Mamata sent out a strong message by hosting Ali in Kolkata and personally overseeing the concert. What Next: As West Bengal goes to the polls in April-May, she will seek a second term in office. Responding to the recent CPM-Congress alliance talks, she said, “I care a fig.” By the way: She chants Sanskrit shlokas while working out on the treadmill every day.
[caption id="attachment_2683726" align="alignnone" width="840"] Mukesh Ambani[/caption] Rank 16: Mukesh Ambani, 58 RIL Chairman Rank in 2015: 14 Why: Mukesh Ambani has now remained “India’s richest man” on the Forbes list for close to a decade. Reliance runs the largest private sector company in the oil and gas sector with a market capitalisation of close to Rs 3,05,000 crore. Ambani has also made his mark in the retail sector and is all set to barge into the telecom sector now. Power Punch: Despite low crude oil prices, RIL posted a better-than-expected 38.7 per cent rise in net profit at Rs 7,290 crore, aided by strong refining margins which surged to a seven-year high. What Next Ambani’s entry into the telecom segment is being closely watched. Reliance Jio, RIL’s telecom arm, has optimised its network and is currently testing service offerings across India for providing 4G service. By the Way: Ambani cleared the entrance to IIT Bombay, but left it to get a chemical engineering degree from Bombay University (now University of Mumbai).
[caption id="attachment_2683742" align="alignnone" width="840"] Raghuram Rajan[/caption] Rank 17: Raghuram Rajan, 53 RBI Governor Rank in 2015: 16 Why: For saying it as bluntly as it gets. The RBI chief warned the government against straying from fiscal consolidation and raising questions about the GDP numbers. “There are problems with the way we count GDP, which is why we need to be careful sometimes just talking about growth,” Rajan said last month. Power Punch: In December 2015, after the RBI cut the repo rate by half a per cent, he said, “Everybody and his cousin have a theory on how to run the economy... The name is Raghuram Rajan, I do what I do.” Recently, he asked all public sector banks, which are reeling under huge NPAs to clean up their balance sheets. What Next: Transmit rate cuts to customers and to keep inflation under control. By the Way: Rajan once told a gathering that when MIT refused him admission to its PhD programme, he wrote to them, saying. “I am a poor Indian... there is no way I can pay for the PhD.” Rajan says MIT then gave him a scholarship.
[caption id="attachment_2683734" align="alignnone" width="840"] Ajit Doval[/caption] Rank 18: Ajit Doval, 71 National Security Advisor Rank in 2015: 17 Why: As the National Security Advisor, Doval has the PM’s ear on all matters of national security and foreign policy. He has been a key factor in shaping the government’s response to Pakistan and in forging regional ties. The nationwide NIA crackdown on Islamic State sympathisers is also his idea. Power Punch: The response to the Pathankot crisis was Doval’s show all the way. He took all key decisions, bypassing Home Minister Rajnath Singh. Earlier, when the Ufa (Russia) joint statement of July last year failed to take the two countries forward, Doval secretly met his Pakistan counterpart Naseer Khan Janjua in Bangkok in December, helping revive the stalled Indo-Pak talks. What Next: Can his approach lend some consistency to Indo-Pak ties? Will the new approach to IS sympathisers impact internal security in the long run? By the Way: He says there are two kinds of people: those who are ISI agents and those who aren’t. n
[caption id="attachment_2683727" align="alignnone" width="840"] J Jayalalithaa[/caption] Rank 19: J Jayalalithaa, 67 Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Rank in 2015: 39 Why: Because she is AIADMK and the AIADMK is her. Despite a string of controversies and reverses, including the sedition charges on a folk singer and her handling of the floods, she remains unchallenged, largely because the opposition DMK hasn't got its act together. Her party is the third largest in the Lok Sabha. Power Punch: When the Karnataka High Court acquitted her in the disproportionate assets case in 2015, thus paving the way for her to return as Chief Minister and win the by-election with a record majority. What Next: With the DMK entering into a poll pact with the Congress, she is watching the moves of other parties. She will hope that the welfare schemes she launched under the brand ‘Amma’ — from canteens to salt packets to cement to medical shops — will ensure her return to power. By the way: During her acting days, she was known as ‘Ammu’ among friends and associates, including MGR.
[caption id="attachment_2683790" align="alignnone" width="840"] Nitin Gadkari[/caption] Rank 20: Nitin Gadkari, 58 Union Transport Minister Rank in 2015: 35 Why: He has earned the reputation of a minister who performs. His stature has risen since infrastructure is a key part of the Modi government’s plans. Sources say Gadkari is one of the few ministers to speak at Cabinet meetings, and that the PM often asks government secretaries to discuss new ideas with him. The RSS also has a soft corner for the former BJP president. Power Punch: He needed just two meetings to get an online clearance for construction of railway overbridges from the Railway Ministry and Prime Minister. What Next Under him, the Road Ministry plans to build 30 km of road a day, as against the current pace of about 18 km a day. He is also pushing for a project award target of 10,000 km this fiscal, besides a budgetary allocation of Rs 65,000 crore for next fiscal. By the Way: In his free time, he listens to music on his iPod, which has 6,500 songs on it. His favourite beverage is tea from roadside shops.
[caption id="attachment_2683850" align="alignnone" width="840"] Cyrus P Mistry[/caption] Rank 21: Cyrus P Mistry, 47 Tata Group Chairman Rank in 2015: 19 Why: He has effortlessly stepped into predecessor Ratan Tata’s shoes, helming the over $100 billion Tata Group. Mistry backed the development of new products at Tata Motors and the company showed a strong presence at Auto Expo 2016, showcasing four new cars. Tata Motors has also said that it will come out with two new passenger cars every year till 2020. Mistry is also encouraging Tata group companies to explore new international markets. Power Punch: At the annual group leadership conference of Tata Group in July 2015, Mistry laid down his vision for the group and said that he wants it to be among the top 25 companies in the world by market capitalisation. What Next: Even though the group may have progressed on various fronts, the consolidated debt at the group level remains high and, in fact, has increased further over the last three years. Mistry will have to work on reducing the same. By the Way: Mistry drives to work in a Safari Storme.
[caption id="attachment_2683783" align="alignnone" width="840"] Vasundhara Raje[/caption] Rank 22: Vasundhara Raje, 62 Rajasthan Chief Minister Rank in 2015: 21 Why: Despite 2015 being a tough year for her — her uneasy relationship with the RSS, the Congress accusing her of being involved in an alleged mining scam; her aide Ashok Singhvi being arrested for bribery — if Raje has managed to stay on, it’s because the BJP knows she is the most popular face in the state unit and she has the backing of a majority of the MLAs. Power Punch: Raje’s alleged support for former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi’s UK immigration bid saw the Opposition demanding her removal. But Raje held her ground. There have been rumours of her strained relationship with the central leadership, particularly the PM. But with the BJP suffering a setback in Bihar, Raje is more comfortably placed. What Next: Moving ahead, she needs to tackle dissent within the party and the poor shape of the state's finances. By the Way: She believes 13 is a lucky number — she was sworn in on that date in December.
[caption id="attachment_2683772" align="alignnone" width="840"] Shivraj Singh Chouhan[/caption] Rank 23: Shivraj Singh Chouhan, 56 Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Rank in 2015: 22 Why: He completed 10 years in office in 2015, and is now the longest serving CM of the state. He was not even a member of the state Assembly when the job came his way. Last year, he was among the three BJP leaders whose resignation the Opposition demanded, leading to Parliament being stalled for days, but he survived. Power Punch: The new crop insurance scheme announced by the PM was the culmination of an exercise started by him. The state recently won a central award in foodgrain production for the fourth consecutive time. What Next: The recent political setbacks, especially in the bypoll to the Ratlam-Jhabua parliamentary constituency, have made him cautious. While he still has no intra-party rival to unsettle him — especially after Kailash Vijayvargiya’s elevation as party general secretary — the Vyapam case remains a sticking point. By the Way: He spends five-six hours in his farm every week, where he grows grains, fruits and flowers.
[caption id="attachment_2683299" align="alignnone" width="820"] Manohar Parrikar[/caption] Rank 24: Manohar Parrikar, 60 Defence Minister Rank in 2015: 23 Why: As Defence Minister, he has dealt with contentious issues such as the servicemen’s demand for One Rank One Pension and almost refined the procurement policy that will henceforth govern defence deals worth millions of dollars in the country. Despite controversial statements that have put the government in a spot more than once, he continues to enjoy the faith of the political leadership. Power Punch: Following allegations of corruption in promotion boards of the Army, Parrikar ordered a CBI probe against two serving major generals. What Next: With the government stressing on Make in India, Parrikar’s challenge is to ensure that modernisation of the armed forces is not hit by the indigenisation efforts. How he spells out the blacklisting policy, clears delays in defence acquisitions and meets the expectations of the Indian defence industry remains to be seen. By the Way: He loves reading fiction.
[caption id="attachment_2683758" align="alignnone" width="840"] Devendra Fadnavis[/caption] Rank 25: Devendra Fadnavis, 45 Maharashtra Chief Minister Rank in 2015: 13 Why: As Chief Minister of Maharashtra, a key state for the BJP and the NDA, the BJP's electoral success elsewhere will depend a lot on how Fadnavis fares here. As the second youngest CM of the state, after Sharad Pawar, Fadnavis's image, as that of a CM who is non-corrupt, young and dynamic, helps the party and the government. Power Punch: After the just concluded Make in India week, Fadnavis announced that the state had got commitments worth Rs 8 lakh crore. What next: With municipal elections coming up in 2017, the BJP-Sena alliance will hope to retain its hold over the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, which the partners have held for three consecutive years. Under Fadnavis, the BJP will also hope to improve its performance vis a vis the Sena in the BMC elections. By the Way: While his wife Amruta is a trained singer, not many know that Fadnavis himself can sing quite well.
[caption id="attachment_2604135" align="alignnone" width="820"] Lalu Prasad[/caption] Rank 26: Lalu Prasad, 67 RJD chief Rank in 2015: 55 Why: He silenced critics and surprised even friends by leading the RJD to the position of the single largest party in the Bihar Assembly in last year’s bitter and closely fought elections. Lalu’s second coming proved that he remains a past champion at caste politics, not just consolidating his support base but also ensuring that his vote got transferred to his allies. Power Punch: Getting both his sons ministerial berths in the Bihar cabinet, including deputy chief ministership for Tejashwi. What Next: When the JD(U) spoke of replicating the Mahagathbandhan model in other states, the RJD leader said this was not the time to talk of any individual. It was seen as Lalu’s unease at Nitish’s projection and that he might now look to assert himself more in the alliance. He must also ensure his cadres stay disciplined to ward off the ‘jungle raj’ taunts. By the Way: He worked briefly as a clerk on contract in a veterinary college under the animal husbandry department in Patna.
[caption id="attachment_2683768" align="alignnone" width="840"] Ramdev[/caption] Rank 27: Ramdev, 50 Yoga guru Rank in 2015: 37 Why: It seems now like this particular story was always foretold. First step, become a popular guru who promotes yoga and takes on “evil” multinational corporations; second step, get close to the ruling establishment; third step, sell natural products advocated earlier and build an empire. Baba Ramdev has shown that he is not just a guru in a country of gurus, his identity is hyphenated between the world of politics, spirituality and entrepreneurship. Power Punch: All of last year, the biggest business story was centred on the Patanjali phenomenon. The baba now sells everything from noodles to shampoos, beating the big MNC conglomerates at their own game. He also lived down the controversy over being allowed to sell instant noodles without obtaining the mandatory product approvals from the FSSAI. What Next: Brand Ramdev will next move into education, setting up a university in Delhi. He claims it will be of such high standard that students of Harvard and Cambridge will line up to take admission. By the Way: Being Baba Ramdev is hard work. He starts his day at 3 am every morning and works for nearly 20 hours a day.
[caption id="attachment_2683303" align="alignnone" width="820"] Ghulam Nabi Azad[/caption] Rank 28: Ghulam Nabi Azad, 66, Leader of Opposition in RS Rank in 2015: 18 Why: The Rajya Sabha has turned out to be the Achilles’ heel of the Modi government, and this soft-spoken 67-year-old has proved the ideal choice as its leader of Opposition. He is firm and aggressive but not provocative or quarrelsome. Azad also has a good rapport with leaders across parties, which helps mount a united offensive against the government. Power Punch: Congress president Sonia Gandhi now increasingly looks up to him as a campaigner and crisis manager. He was her point person during the Bihar elections, and is involved in the party strategising for Assam. What Next: The coming Budget Session is expected to be fiery, with the government lining up key Bills, and the Opposition raring to raise allegations against BJP CMs, the suicide of Dalit student Rohith Vemula, and the JNU row. Azad will be at the centre of it all. By the way: A keen photographer, he always carries a camera during trips.
[caption id="attachment_2683853" align="alignnone" width="840"] Mallikarjun Kharge[/caption] Rank 29: Mallikarjun Kharge, 73, Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Rank in 2015: 24 Why: The Congress may be down to 45 MPs in the Lok Sabha, but the government has by now realised that this 73-year-old leader of Opposition is no pushover. He may lack rhetorical flourish, but his calm but firm demeanour, persistence and occasional flashes of aggressiveness have helped the Congress trouble the government and garner attention in the Lower House. Power Punch: He forced Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to expunge her own remarks against the Congress, perhaps for the first time in the history of the House. As a member of the selection panel for the new CIC, he ensured that outgoing Delhi police chief B S Bassi was not picked for the job. What Next: Although he is content with his present job, he still has an eye on Karnataka politics and dreams to become the chief minister of the state one day. By the way: He was a hockey player and represented Gulbarga district in state championships.
[caption id="attachment_2683762" align="alignnone" width="840"] Mayawati[/caption] Rank 30: Mayawati, 60, Chairperson, BSP Rank in 2015: 61 Why: With Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav facing anti-incumbency and the BJP’s popularity dipping, the BSP president has emerged as a serious contender for 2017’s Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. She has met the BJP’s attempts to woo her Dalit base with sharp attacks. At the same time, Mayawati continues to keep her options open, at least in Parliament, where her nine-MP block voted for the government on the GST Bill. Power Punch: Candidates supported by her party won the maximum number of zila panchayat wards during the elections in UP in November last year. What Next: She must consolidate her support among Dalits and Muslims, and ensure that her caste card triumphs against the communal polarisation in play in the state. By the Way: She is very strict about cleanliness at her residence and party office. She dislikes those who chew paan or gutkha. She won’t be caught talking to anyone chewing paan masala.
[caption id="attachment_2683307" align="alignnone" width="820"] Gautam Adani[/caption] Rank 31: Gautam Adani, 53, Adani Group Chairman Rank in 2015: 25 Why: Over the last year, Adani has been a part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s industrial delegation on most trips abroad, in the process emerging as one of the most prominent faces of India Inc. abroad. Power Punch: Adani Enterprises is India’s largest coal importer, while the Adani Group website says they hope to raise extractive capacity of thermal coal from 4 MMT in 2014 to 200 MMT per annum by 2020, “making Adani one of the largest mining groups in the world”. Adani Ports is India’s largest private port operator, while Adani Power is now among the country’s biggest private power companies. What Next: On February 3, the Adani Group secured the approval of the Queensland government for the $16.5 billion Carmichael coal mine project in Galilee Basin, Australia. By the way: He was in the Taj Hotel in Mumbai on 26/11 and was among the last to be moved out during the terrorist attack.
[caption id="attachment_2683854" align="alignnone" width="840"] P K Mishra[/caption] Rank 32: P K Mishra, 66, Additional Principal Secretary to PM Rank in 2015: 27 Why: The 1972-batch IAS officer (Gujarat cadre) in the Prime Minister’s Office has established himself as the final authority on appointments to various posts in the Central government. No senior-level appointment or bureaucratic reshuffle can be effected without Mishra giving the go-ahead. Power Punch: The recently launched crop insurance scheme, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, is essentially Mishra’s idea. He had worked extensively on this scheme during his stint as agriculture secretary in 2006-08. Under the scheme, the premium rates to be paid by farmers have been brought down substantially so as to enable more to avail insurance cover against crop loss due to natural calamities. What Next: Mishra will be closely watched on whether he is able to ensure transparency and objectivity in central appointments. By the way: Makes it a point to respond to all phone calls and SMSes, irrespective of who the caller is.
[caption id="attachment_2683880" align="alignnone" width="840"] S Jaishankar[/caption] Rank 33: S Jaishankar, 61, Foreign Secretary Rank in 2015: 28 Why: By appointing him as Foreign Secretary even before predecessor UPA-appointee Sujatha Singh could complete her tenure (the first foreign secretary to be removed thus in 28 years), the Narendra Modi government had made it clear that Jaishankar's diplomatic skills were crucial to its foreign policy. The Foreign Secretary has been closely involved in the Prime Minister’s much-publicised visits overseas — from Bangladesh to the UAE, and from the US to the UK. Power Punch: Jaishankar is known for his ability to adapt to different political leaderships and for his realistic view of the hurdles facing India’s foreign policy. He also shares a special relationship with the PM since the time of Modi’s visit to China in 2012. Jaishankar was at the time India’s ambassador to China. What Next: While his focus will be on Pakistan, with which ties have remained on a roller-coaster, this year, he will concentrate on consolidating the gains made by Modi during his travels in the last year-and-a-half. By the way: He did his PhD in international relations from Jawaharlal Nehru University, while training for the Indian Foreign Service.
[caption id="attachment_2683781" align="alignnone" width="840"] Uddhav Thackeray[/caption] Rank 34: Uddhav Thackeray, 55, Shiv Sena president Rank in 2015: 29 Why: Mumbai has always been the Shiv Sena’s nerve centre and as its leader, Uddhav Thackeray commands immense political clout. Power Punch: Thackeray may not have been invited to the gala dinner on February 13 and to the other events presided over by PM Narendra Modi at the recent Make in India week, but in the programmes that he attended, guests made a beeline for him to exchange greetings. What Next: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections in early 2017 will be extremely crucial for the Sena which is facing a major challenge from not only Congress-NCP, but also its ally, the BJP. BMC is India’s richest municipal corporation with an annual budget of Rs 37,052 crore. By the way: Thackeray is an avid photographer. A recent exhibition of his photos in Mumbai featured the Sena chief’s photographs of wildlife, iconic buildings in Maharashtra and Bollywood personalities.
[caption id="attachment_2683770" align="alignnone" width="840"] Ratan Tata[/caption] Rank 35: Ratan Tata, 78, Chairman Emeritus, Tata Sons Rank in 2015: 30 Why: Through the Tata Trusts that he heads, Ratan Tata is pushing for finding sustainable permanent solutions for problems related to nutrition, health and energy etc, in partnership with organisations, institutions and state governments. Power Punch: Tata has funded more than 25 start-ups over the last three years through his private investment company RNT Associates. Till February 2016, he has announced investments in six companies and a partnership with the Office of the Regents (UC Investments), University of California, to jointly fund startups, new companies and other enterprises in India. What Next: Tata Trusts has signed an MoU with the Andhra Pradesh government to develop 264 villages in Vijayawada constituency and transform them into smart villages. By The Way: Tata is very possessive about his cars and usually likes to drive them himself. n
[caption id="attachment_2683756" align="alignnone" width="840"] Arvind Panagariya[/caption] Rank 36: Arvind Panagariya, 63, Vice-chairman, Niti Aayog Rank in 2015: 32 Why: Panagariya spearheads the institution that has replaced the Planning Commission and is tasked with turning NITI Aayog into an independent think-tank and also be at the fulcrum of Centre-state relations. Power Punch: Panagariya is the only non-political person in Modi’s government who holds the rank and status of a cabinet minister. He also gets a first-hand view of all Cabinet papers and, on many occasions, leaves his reformist imprint on the Cabinet’s agenda. What Next: He has to get the better of bureaucracy — unlike Montek Singh Ahluwalia, who had the then PM’s ears, Panagariya has been unable to catch Modi’s attention on many issues that NITI wants to push. He has to build a rapport with Cabinet ministers and state chief ministers. By the Way: It took him a long while to uncover the beacon light on top of his official car because he is quite wary of how his actions will be interpreted in the corridors of power.
[caption id="attachment_2683785" align="alignnone" width="840"] Venkaiah Naidu[/caption] Rank 37: Venkaiah Naidu, 66, BJP leader and Union Minister Rank in 2015: 34 Why: He holds two important portfolios — urban development and parliamentary affairs. Numbers are crucial in a parliamentary democracy and it is Naidu’s job to ensure that both Houses remain on track, particularly the Rajya Sabha, where the Modi government lacks majority. Power Punch: When Rahul gave a “zero out of 10” to the Modi government after its first year in office, Naidu tweeted: “Rahul @OfficeOfRG gives Zero to NDA govt. Zeros can’t recognise Heroes. Zeros find Zeros only.” What Next: He has to find a way to get contentious legislations, particularly the GST Bill, passed in the Rajya Sabha, during what is likely to be an acrimonious Parliament session. By the way: After becoming the BJP president in 2002, he introduced a range of non-vegetarian food in the party menu and that, too, without a backlash. A perfect host, he has his cooks flown in along with fresh prawns, fish and other essentials from Andhra whenever he hosts a lunch in the capital.
[caption id="attachment_2683757" align="alignnone" width="840"] Arvind Subramanian[/caption] Rank 38: Arvind Subramanian, 56, Chief Economic Advisor Rank in 2015: 36 Why: Arvind Subramanian is the man behind the JAM — Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile — trinity that is seen as a way to check subsidy leakages. He headed a panel on GST that suggested a standard rate of 17-18 per cent to be levied on most goods and all services. He has worked as an economist at the International Monetary Fund earlier. Power Punch: Subramanian kicked off the debate on deviation from fiscal consolidation roadmap by calling for re-assessment of fiscal deficit target for the next financial year in the mid-year economic analysis for 2015-16. What Next: He is seen as a contender for the post of RBI Governor if current governor Raghuram Rajan does not get an extension in September this year. By the way: Arvind Subramanian has a fondness for classical music — Carnatic and Hindustani — and likes listening to the works of MD Ramanathan, MS Subbulakshmi, Ustad Amir Khan and Nikhil Banerjee.
[caption id="attachment_2683764" align="alignnone" width="840"] Nripendra Misra[/caption] Rank 39: Nripendra Misra, 70, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Rank in 2015: 33 Why: Handpicked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Nripendra Misra, a 1967-batch IAS officer, has emerged as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s go-to man in the Prime Minister’s Office. He has served as the chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India earlier. He is also the one handling major policy co-ordination between the PMO and various ministries. Power Punch: Misra is believed to have played a crucial role in the government’s decision to implement the One Rank One Pension (OROP) for defence personnel. He also had a say in shaping the FDI policy initiatives of the Modi government. What Next: As the man who is the link between the ministries and the PMO, Nripendra Misra will have to tackle head-on the prevalent impression — and the criticism — that the government is PMO-driven and too centralised and that major ministries don’t enjoy even functional autonomy. BY THE WAY: Misra likes to listen to old Hindi film songs before retiring for the day. Even though he is health-conscious and likes doing yoga, his seven-day working week leaves him little time for it. n
[caption id="attachment_2683779" align="alignnone" width="840"] Suresh Prabhu[/caption] Rank 40: Suresh Prabhu, 62, Railway Minister Rank in 2015: 31 Why: He has managed to bring fresh capital into the Railways, and stayed away from populist measures. His five-year prescription for the Railways has been hailed as the first serious application of mind by a minister in years, even if on paper. Under him, Railways has been responding to passenger woes in real time. Power Punch: Narendra Modi risked the Shiv Sena’s wrath to choose ex-Sena man Prabhu to head the crucial ministry. What Next: The coming rail budget will show if he can implement his ministry’s turnaround theories. The Seventh Pay Commission’s additional burden of Rs 32,000 crore on Railway finances leaves him with a tough balancing act. By the Way: Prabhu’s diet is frugal, often including only fruits.
[caption id="attachment_2683852" align="alignnone" width="840"] Justice J S Khehar[/caption] Rank 41: Justice J S Khehar, 63, Supreme Court Judge New on the list Why: J S Khehar will be India’s first Sikh Chief Justice of India. The Supreme Court witnessed an extraordinary spectacle when the Attorney General of India questioned not only the manner in which judges were appointed but also their competence. But even as the government tried to defend the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), Justice Khehar, heading the Constitution Bench, was unmoved. He quashed the NJAC, establishing the primacy of the CJI to appoint judges. Power Punch: When he quashed the NJAC and upheld the Collegium, he gave little room to the government to try anything new. He headed the bench which cleared the path for government formation in Arunachal Pradesh. What Next: He is going to decide actor Salman Khan’s fate in the 2002 hit-and-run case. By the way: An avid dog lover, he bathes his pet, Coco, himself.
[caption id="attachment_2683786" align="alignnone" width="840"] Virat Kohli[/caption] Rank 42: Virat Kohli, 27, Cricketer Rank in 2015: 69 Why: At 27, he is India’s Test captain and easily one of the best young batsmen in the world. Last year, under his captaincy, India became the No. 1 Test side. Kohli is the ICC’s top T20 batsman and No. 2 in ODIs. Power Punch: On a cricket field, he is always expressive, occasionally abusive too. Off the field, he is one of India’s most articulate sporting personalities. Kohli has cracked the complex art of multi-tasking. He can train for hours, shoot ad campaigns and attend Bollywood events. He has close to 10 million Twitter followers and a brand value of approximately Rs 100 crore. What Next: It’s a matter of time before he replaces MS Dhoni as the India skipper in the ODI and T20 formats. Kohli’s next aim will be to better his mildly-anaemic Test record. By the way: The west Delhi boy usually dines on pink salmon and a bottle of top-end mineral water on his overseas tours. He recently got into a business tie-up with Real Madrid star Gareth Bale.
[caption id="attachment_2683763" align="alignnone" width="840"] Mulayam Singh Yadav[/caption] Rank 43: Mulayam Singh Yadav, 76, Chairperson, Samajwadi Party Rank in 2015: 40 Why: Despite losing heavily in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Mulayam Singh continues to hold sway due to his support base among OBCs (mainly Yadavs) and Muslims. In the caste-ridden politics of the Hindi heartland, the Yadav satrap is considered the best player of the caste card. Having connections across party lines also helps Mulayam remain relevant. Power Punch: Four years after son Akhilesh took over as the chief minister in the state, Mulayam remains the de-facto CM of UP. He still calls the shots in the party, including ensuring Amar Singh’s presence at his birthday bash in Saifai in November last year. He also consolidated his Yadav support base through a matrimonial alliance between his nephew and RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s daughter. What Next: With incidents of communal violence on the rise in UP, all eyes are on the Assembly polls in UP next year. BY THE WAY: A veteran politician, Mulayam still writes personal letters to stay in touch with partymen. n
[caption id="attachment_2683849" align="alignnone" width="840"] N Chandrababu Naidu[/caption] Rank 44: N Chandrababu Naidu, 65, Chief Minister, Andhra Pradesh Rank in 2015: 41 Why: The first chief minister of Andhra Pradesh after its bifurcation, Naidu seems cut out for the job. Though Hyderabad will be the joint capital till 2024, the state is marshalling resources to build its capital Amaravathi by 2018, in spite of a cash crunch. Andhra Pradesh also recorded an economic growth rate of 13.94 per cent in the second quarter — an average half-yearly growth of 11.77 per cent. Power Punch: Naidu used his knack for putting out political fires after getting singed by the Kapu reservation protest. He not only managed to placate its leader Mudragadda Padmanabham to withdraw his protest, but also to keep the powerful community on his side. What Next: The focus is now on developing the state evenly across the 13 districts, creating jobs especially in the IT and manufacturing sector, and mitigating farmers’ problems. BY THE WAY: Naidu has been working out of a temporary office in Vijayawada. He had hired a bungalow on the banks of Krishna as residence.
[caption id="attachment_2683877" align="alignnone" width="840"] Raman Singh[/caption] Rank 45: Raman Singh, 63, Chief Minister, Chhattisgarh Rank in 2015: 42 Why: Chhattisgarh remains one of the few states to be continually troubled by Maoist insurgencies. Many believed that this would lead Raman Singh to lose favour with the new Centre, but he is set to complete 15 years in the CM’s post. Power Punch: Recently, during the Make in India week in Mumbai, Singh said that while Chhattisgarh remains strong in industries such as steel, cement, power and aluminium, it wants to attract investments in sunrise industries. Generally averse to upsetting his ministers and bureaucrats, he surprised everyone by removing a supremely powerful police officer. What Next: He faces a big challenge from a resurgent Congress, led by its belligerent state chief, Bhupesh Baghel, in the state. By the way: A cricket lover, he is a left hander and bowls leg spin. During IPL matches in Raipur, his photographs in cricket gear adorn the city’s walls.
[caption id="attachment_2683766" align="alignnone" width="840"] Piyush Goyal[/caption] Rank 46: Piyush Goyal, 51, Minister of State for Coal and Power, Independent Charge Rank in 2015: 77 Why: Piyush Goyal is overseeing long-term structural improvement measures in the electricity sector that could set the stage for powering India as and when an industrial uptick happens. Power Punch: When the BJP government came to power, an estimated 18,482 villages in the country didn’t have electricity. The Power Ministry has added 22,566 MW of generation capacity addition in the last year, the highest ever. What Next: Goyal has rolled out UDAY (Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana), a vital distribution reform package. Within four months, over two dozen states have signalled their intention to join the scheme. Goyal claims that under the scheme, all villages in the country will get electricity by 2019. BY THE WAY: A chartered accountant by training, he had earlier served on the boards of two of the largest state-owned commercial banks, the State Bank of India and the Bank of Baroda. n
[caption id="attachment_2683754" align="alignnone" width="840"] Anand Mahindra[/caption] Rank 47: Anand Mahindra, 60, Chairman & MD, Mahindra & Mahindra Rank in 2015: 43 Why: Under him, the company group has moved beyond its flagship utility vehicle business to take a leadership position across a number of other areas, including tractors, information technology and vacation ownership. M&M has successfully acquired a number of high-profile brands, including Satyam Computer Services, Reva Electric Motors and South Korea’s Ssangyong Motor Company. Power Punch: M&M, along with group firm Tech Mahindra Ltd, acquired iconic Italian automotive and industrial design company Pininfarina SpA in December 2015. Pininfarina's legendary brand status is expected to provide the Mahindra group access to relationships the iconic designer firm has nurtured with the best in the world over its 85-year history, including Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Peugeot. What Next: New growth areas, focused on real estate development, aerospace, retail, defence, energy, financial services and logistics. BY THE WAY: A self-confessed blues fan, he counts blues greats Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and B B King as among his favourites. Cites The Beatles as yet another big musical influence.
[caption id="attachment_2683851" align="alignnone" width="840"] Fali S Nariman[/caption] Rank 48: Fali S Nariman, 87, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court Rank in 2015: 44 Why: One of the most respected lawyers in the country, Nariman remains the first choice when questions of constitutional importance reach the Supreme Court. The octogenarian has always fought for what he calls “constitutional principles.” Power Punch: He was the petitioner’s counsel as the Supreme Court held the NJAC to be unconstitutional. What Next: He is now arguing against the imposition of President’s Rule in Arunachal Pradesh. By The Way: He waives off fees if a case appeals to him and the litigant can’t pay. n
[caption id="attachment_2683755" align="alignnone" width="840"] Anil Ambani[/caption] Rank 49: Anil Ambani, 56, Chairman, Anil Dhirubhai Ambani group Rank in 2015: 57 Why: With his companies under high debt, he chalked out a strategy to sell non-core assets, entered the defence sector and acquired Pipavav Defence. Reliance Defence has emerged as a big private player. Power Punch: Recently, Reliance Defence signed a $6 billion pact with Russian arms firm AlmazAntey. There’s also a Rs 66,000 crore deal with Russian United shipyards for four frigates. What Next: To further consolidate businesses, reduce overall debt, and enhance defence manufacturing. By The Way: Relations between the brothers have improved a fair bit in the last year.
[caption id="attachment_2683778" align="alignnone" width="840"] Sukhbir S Badal[/caption] Rank 50: Sukhbir S Badal (54)- President, Shiromani Akali Dal Rank in 2015: 45 Why: As a key strategist, he planned the Sadbhawna rallies to pull the Akali Dal through one of its worst slumps, triggered by the alleged Moga molestation incident, farmers’ protests and other controversies. Power Punch: He kept the Army and the NIA out of the Dinanagar anti-terrorist operations. What Next: Ahead of the 2017 Assembly elections, he is battling strong anti-incumbency, a resurgent Punjab Congress and a strengthening AAP in the state. By the Way: He owns a macaw as well as two poodles, Handsome and Pretty.
[caption id="attachment_2683816" align="alignnone" width="840"] Priyanka Vadra[/caption] Rank 51: Priyanka Vadra, 44, Congress member Rank in 2015: 46 Why: She is a great influence on Rahul Gandhi and the emotional anchor of Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Power Punch: She has refused the let the allegations against husband Robert Vadra pull her down. What Next: Priyanka is expected to play a greater role in the party’s pre-poll strategy for UP. By the way: Long ago, for about a year, she taught at a Montessori school in Delhi.
[caption id="attachment_2683828" align="alignnone" width="840"] Sharad Pawar[/caption] Rank 52: Sharad Pawar, 75, NCP Chief Rank in 2015: 47 Why: With his senior partymen facing corruption charges, the NCP chief has to shoulder the burden of rebuilding the party. Power Punch: The who’s who of Indian politics was at the launch of his autobiography in Delhi in December. What next: A shot at the highest office when Pranab Mukherjee retires. By the Way: Pawar has served as the head of various sports organisations in Maharashtra.
[caption id="attachment_2683812" align="alignnone" width="840"] Naveen Patnaik[/caption] Rank 53: Naveen Patnaik, 69, Odisha Chief Minister Rank in 2015: 49 Why: Despite rising popular disenchantment, Patnaik still stands heads and shoulders above any other politician in Odisha. His seven BJD MPs in the Rajya Sabha ensure Modi can’t ignore him. Power Punch: Last month, the Centre granted Odisha drought assistance of Rs 815 crore even before the state had got its crop-cutting report — the only scientific evidence substantiating a drought — ready. This was the biggest drought assistance Odisha had got in 10 years. What Next: Rising infighting in the BJD is keeping Patnaik on the edge, and he is reported to be taking extra care to ensure he is not attacked by disgruntled partymen. The exit of POSCO steel remains a blot, and he has to renew faith in the state’s attraction as an investment destination. By the Way: He is very close to sister Gita Mehta, an author, who visits him regularly at their Bhubaneswar home.
[caption id="attachment_2683426" align="alignnone" width="820"] Siddaramaiah[/caption] Rank 54: Siddaramaiah, 67, Karnataka Chief Minister Rank in 2015: 50 Why: In his third year in power, the CM has maintained a clean image, despite allegations of corruption in land deals. He has also managed to quell dissidence within the Congress, which many had thought could lead to his fall. Power Punch: Siddaramaiah used his old connections with the opposition Janata Dal (Secular) to wrest control of Bangalore City Corporation from under the BJP’s nose, despite the latter winning a majority of the seats. When he perceived a threat to his chair from Dalit leaders in the Karnataka Congress, Siddaramaiah declared himself a Dalit to tilt the balance in his favour. What Next: Elections to local bodies like zila panchayats and taluk panchayats will test the popularity of the Siddaramaiah government. He has indicated that he will not fight the next polls and could well introduce his son in politics. By the Way: Siddaramaiah was once a criminal lawyer based in Mysore.
[caption id="attachment_2683800" align="alignnone" width="840"] J P Nadda[/caption] Rank 55: J P Nadda, 55, Health and Family Welfare Minister Rank in 2015: 63 Why: When he first took over as minister after the sudden removal of Dr Harshvardhan, there were misgivings and rumours about the hand of the tobacco lobby in the reshuffle. Larger pictorial warnings on tobacco packs are still pending but Nadda has done a commendable balancing act given the financial constraints and the limited say the Centre has in implementation of health programmes. Power Punch: Nadda remains very important in the BJP’s organisational structure and was one of Amit Shah’s key lieutenants in the Bihar campaign. He also keeps a low profile, a much-valued quality in the current dispensation. What Next: Nadda will have to start moving on the health assurance promise of the NDA. The tobacco pictorial warnings are scheduled to be implemented from April this year, and whether that happens or not will affect Nadda’s standing globally. By The Way: He can recite some of the best speeches of Abraham Lincoln and J F Kennedy from memory.
[caption id="attachment_2683819" align="alignnone" width="840"] Rajat Sharma[/caption] Rank 56: Rajat Sharma, 59, Editor-in-chief and chairman, India TV Rank in 2015: 51 Why: Considered more influential than most ministers, Rajat Sharma can count many people in his list of powerful friends, from politicians to Bollywood stars. Many of his friends in the BJP date back to his days as a student leader in Delhi. Power Punch: He was re-elected president of the influential News Broadcasters’ Association. With many friends in the present government, his clout has only grown. His show Aap Ki Adalat, now in its 22nd year, continues to draw the who’s who of Indian politics and entertainment. What Next: With competition getting fiercer in the news space, India TV will have to be inventive to stay ahead. By the Way: Panditji, as he is called by everyone, loves Hindi film songs and has a huge collection of suits that he likes to boast about.
[caption id="attachment_2683792" align="alignnone" width="840"] Arnab Goswami[/caption] Rank 57: Arnab Goswami, 42, Editor-in-chief, Times Now Rank in 2015: 100 Why: Because the noise on his prime-time Newshour is now the template for television news across most channels even as many of them now take the journalistic high ground. He rails against the establishment one day, and the next day calls JNU students “anti-nationals” with equal passion. Power Punch: When Union HRD minister Smriti Irani calls during his show to lend a shoulder to a weeping talking head. Times Now recently completed 10 years, and has consistently been the most watched news channel in English. What Next: The Congress is now staying away from his show just as the BJP did during the IPL row. For how long will the Congress boycott last? Stay tuned in. By the Way: Minutes before The Newshour, he sprints from the make-up room to the studio, some say to get charged for the explosive debate.
[caption id="attachment_2683395" align="alignnone" width="820"] Dalbir Singh[/caption] Rank 58: General Dalbir Singh, 61, Army Chief Rank in 2015: 53 Why: The sheer size of the force he commands makes him one of the most powerful men in the country. Besides, by virtue of being the Chief of Army Staff, Gen Singh influences the strong ex-servicemen community in the country, and was a crucial mediator between the government and veterans during the One Rank One Pension (OROP) agitation. He has a high level of access to the PMO given the border issues with Pakistan and China. Singh has been an integral part of many successful operations. Among the most famous is Operation Pawan by the Indian Peace Keeping Force against Sri Lanka in 1987, where he was appointed as the Company Commander. Power Punch: Recently, after the Pathankot attack last month, he said that Pakistan Army has always derailed dialogue between the two countries. What Next: Into the second period of his term, he will be judged by deliverables such as morale of his troops, state of readiness of the Army, modernisation etc. By the Way: Singh is known as a sportsperson and fitness enthusiast: he takes a special interest in horse riding and swimming. Every day, he runs 10 km on the treadmill.
[caption id="attachment_2683390" align="alignnone" width="820"] Asaduddin Owaisi[/caption] Rank 59: Asaduddin Owaisi, 46, AIMIM president Rank in 2015: 54 Why: Under his leadership, the AIMIM has transformed into a national party. Owaisi has already made inroads into Maharashtra— MIM won two seats, including Byculla, in Mumbai in 2014, and 44 seats in the recent municipal elections in Hyderabad. Power Punch: He has emerged as a leader of a Muslim party able to take on Hindu right-wing organisations. Owaisi is also looking to unify Muslims, Dalits and OBCs under the MIM umbrella. What Next: Owaisi and MIM will take part in elections in West Bengal. By the Way: He likes to ride his motorcycle in Hyderabad.
[caption id="attachment_2683807" align="alignnone" width="840"] Kumar Mangalam Birla[/caption] Rank 60: Kumar Mangalam Birla, 48, Aditya Birla Group Chairman Rank in 2015: 56 Why: Aditya Birla Group companies cut across sectors such as chemicals, mining, retail, telecom, with Idea Cellular being the third largest telecom company in India. Power Punch: He purchased Jatia House in Malabar Hill in September 2015 for Rs 425 crore. What Next: Birla Estates was carved out by Century Textiles board in February 2016 and will redevelop its properties in and around Mumbai under a new CEO. By the Way: The industrialist enjoys shooting and considers himself a reasonably good marksman.
[caption id="attachment_2683837" align="alignnone" width="840"] Uday Shankar[/caption] Rank 61: Uday Shankar, 53, CEO, Star Rank in 2015: 58 Why: He is the CEO of a network with 40-plus channels watched by 650 million viewers a month. Power Punch: As promoters of the pro-badminton league, Star Sports convinced organisers to make the game snappier by reverting to the 15-point format. The hockey league decided to award two points for field goals. The world governing bodies of both sports might implement these changes internationally. What Next: The IPL is looking for a broadcaster. You can bet Star will be in the chase. By the Way: Once a JNU jholawala, he works at a standing desk in a 37th-floor Lower Parel office.
[caption id="attachment_2683825" align="alignnone" width="840"] Samir Jain, 60 Vineet Jain, 48[/caption] Rank 62: Samir Jain, 60 Vineet Jain, 48, Vice-Chairman and MD of BCCL Group Rank in 2015: 60 Why: With its large print and digital footprint, BCCL is India’s largest media conglomerate. Power Punch: BCCL announced the setting up of its university on land allotted by the UP government in Noida. What Next: They aim to explore more regional markets and produce more films. By the Way: Given a choice, Samir would spend a few months in a year in California’s bay area.
[caption id="attachment_2683818" align="alignnone" width="840"] Rahul Bhatia[/caption] Rank 63: Rahul Bhatia, 56, Whole-Time Director, InterGlobe Enterprises Rank in 2015: 62 Why: Last October, IndiGo’s parent company, InterGlobe Aviation, raised Rs 3,008 crore through a successful initial public offer. Power Punch: The public offer was the biggest IPO in nearly three years. What Next: With delay expected in the delivery of planes, IndiGo’s plans could face turbulence. By the Way: Bhatia owns restaurants Nooba, China Club and L’Angoor in Gurgaon and Delhi.
[caption id="attachment_2683814" align="alignnone" width="840"] Prashant Bhushan[/caption] Rank 64: Prashant Bhushan, 59, Lawyer, activist, politician Rank in 2015: 59 Why: He has come into prominence for using legal means to expose corruption and scams. He has also extensively used public interest litigations (PILs) to support a number of causes related to environmental protection, human rights, and most importantly, corruption. Power Punch: From 2G to coal block allocation scam, Bhushan has been involved in legal battles. He also stood up to oppose the NJAC, which was seen as a bid to take away the autonomy of the judiciary to appoint judges. What Next: The Supreme Court has recently questioned the credentials and authenticity of PILs Bhushan has been filing at regular intervals, and he has filed a detailed reply, attesting to his credibility and genuineness. By the Way: Whenever he finds time, Bhushan travels to Palampur in Himachal Pradesh, where he owns a small farm.
[caption id="attachment_2683808" align="alignnone" width="840"] M Lakshmana Rao aka Ganapathy[/caption] Rank 65: M Lakshmana Rao aka Ganapathy, 66, CPI (Maoist) general secretary Rank in 2015: 65 Why: Although on the backfoot for several months, the banned CPI (Maoist) party, led by Muppala Lakshmana Rao alias Ganapathy, still controls vast areas in Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand and Bihar. Under his leadership, the Maoists have thwarted several attempts by security forces to wrest back Maoist-controlled areas in Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand. Power Punch: His call for Bolshevising the party has invigorated the cadre. In spite of so many operations against the Maoists, they are still acknowledged by the NDA government as the biggest internal threat to the country. What Next: After a few setbacks, his call for “Jal, jungle, zameen, izzat and adhikar” has given a new momentum to the movement. By the Way: He is a science graduate and also holds a B.Ed degree. He worked as teacher in Karimnagar district, Telangana. The bounty on his head is now Rs 2.52 crore.
[caption id="attachment_2683789" align="alignnone" width="840"] Amarinder Singh[/caption] Rank 66: Amarinder Singh, 73, Punjab Congress chief Rank in 2015: 66 Why: A scion of the royal family of Patiala, a former captain in the Indian Army, and a former chief minister of Punjab (2002-2007), Singh remains a popular state leader. He is the sitting president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC). The resounding defeat he dealt to senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley in Amritsar in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections was one of the worst losses suffered by the BJP in the polls, and continues to hurt the party. Power Punch: After an open rebellion against Partap Singh Bajwa, Singh literally forced the party to nominate him as the Punjab Congress chief in his place. What Next: Singh is now concentrating on steering the Congress to victory in the 2017 Assembly elections. By the Way: Singh has written six books, including his memoir. He loves fast food and especially his McDonald’s meal — French fries, and burger with double cheese, but without mayonnaise.
[caption id="attachment_2683788" align="alignnone" width="840"] Ahmed Patel[/caption] Rank 67: Ahmed Patel, 66, Congress leader New on the list Why: Despite Rahul Gandhi virtually running the show in the Congress, 10 Janpath is still the last word. Patel, in his capacity as Sonia’s political secretary and her trusted lieutenant, is a key influence on her. He plays a big role in decision-making within the party and in drawing up its policies and positions. Power Punch: When the Delhi High Court dismissed Sonia and Rahul’s plea against a summons issued by a trial court in the National Herald case, the party's initial decision was to approach the Supreme Court to seek an exemption. But Patel convinced the leadership that it made better political sense for Sonia and Rahul to appear in court — and they did. What Next: With Rahul expected to take over as Congress president, there is uncertainty over the role the old guard, of which Patel is a part, would play. By the Way: He earned his first real money by selling vegetables, which he carried from his village to the market in Ankleshwar.
[caption id="attachment_2683796" align="alignnone" width="840"] Badruddin Ajmal[/caption] Rank 68: Badruddin Ajmal, 66, AIUDF leader New on the list Why: His party is the largest opposition party in Assam, holding 18 seats in the 126-member House. His 10-year-old party has risen rapidly, winning three seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha, the same number as the Congress. Ajmal has claimed his party will win 30-35 seats. Power Punch: His party has considerable hold in at least 34 seats, most of them in western and south Assam. In an interview to The Indian Express, BJP’s Himanta Biswa Sarna had conceded Ajmal’s hold on these seats, “where Bangladeshi immigrants are in a majority”, and said the BJP will have to work hard in the remaining 92 seats “to save our identity”. What Next: Ajmal is putting up candidates in over 100 Assembly constituencies. He is expected to either forge an alliance with the Congress or arrive at a post-poll understanding in case of a hung Assembly. By the Way: People carry water to Ajmal, who is considered a healer, hoping his touch will cure them of their ailments.
[caption id="attachment_2683806" align="alignnone" width="840"] Krishna Gopal[/caption] Rank 69: Krishna Gopal, 61, RSS joint general secretary New on the list Why: As the RSS’s representative in the BJP, he is an official channel of communication between the two organisations. He conveys the Sangh’s perspective to the government and is privy to crucial decisions of the Cabinet. Power Punch: The removal and selection of several vice-chancellors and heads of academic institutions and universities — traditionally a major concern of the RSS — in this government are believed to have been done through his blessings. What Next: A tough challenge before Gopal is to equal the clout of earlier Sangh ambassadors, including in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, particularly in the powerful ministries such as home, defence, finance and foreign affairs. By the way: His personal assistant, Digvijay Tyagi, was earlier with Amit Shah. As a doctoral student at Agra University in the ’70s, his thesis was on “Impact of climate change on mustard flowers”.
[caption id="attachment_2683820" align="alignnone" width="840"] Ram Madhav[/caption] Rank 70: Ram Madhav, 51, BJP general secretary New on the list Why: He is among the few in the party with direct access to both the PM and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. He has played a crucial role in mobilising support for the PM’s grand public meetings abroad. He overturned a shibboleth of Indian politics — the BJP and the PDP are ideologically opposed and never the twain can meet. The alliance between the BJP and PDP in Jammu and Kashmir went on to form the government. As a key interlocutor for the fragile alliance, he is crucial for the party. Power Punch: Modi supporters feel he showed gumption in appearing on Al Jazeera’s Head to Head show, and that he held his own against Mehdi Hasan, contrary to all the flak he drew. What Next: Forming a government in J&K was one of the biggest achievements of the Modi-led BJP. It is up to Madhav now to ensure it stays that way. BY THE WAY: Madhav has more followers on Twitter than his parent organisation, the RSS.
[caption id="attachment_2683835" align="alignnone" width="840"] Sunil Mittal[/caption] Rank 71: Sunil Mittal, 58, Founder and Chairman, Bharti Enterprises Rank in 2015: 67 Why: Bharti Enterprises’s flagship company, Bharti Airtel — India’s biggest wireless carrier — is investing $3.5 billion in the current fiscal, an incremental $750 million, to spur the company’s fourth generation wireless services. In November, Mittal said that he will take a voluntary cut of Rs 5 crore from his annual salary to help fund a new initiative aimed at providing legal and financial assistance to underprivileged undertrials. He drew a salary of Rs 27.17 crore in 2014-15. Power Punch: Mittal has set the ball rolling on a major restructuring of Bharti’s bleeding telecom business in Africa by grouping operations in 15 countries under eight clusters, alongside changes in management structure. What Next: Airtel is bracing for the impending rollout of Reliance Jio Infocomm’s $15 billion 4G service, which could result in a shake-up of the telecommunication industry. By the way: He started out by making cycle parts for Hero and Avon.
[caption id="attachment_2683787" align="alignnone" width="840"] Aamir Khan[/caption] Rank 72: Aamir Khan, 50, Actor Rank in 2015: 70 Why: Despite not making any big-screen appearance in 2015, there was no denying Khan’s influence. If an e-commerce firm signed him up for Rs 30 crore, he lent the strongest voice to the intolerance debate in the country. By the end of the year, his contract with both Snapdeal and the government’s Incredible India campaign was allowed to lapse — a fact that didn’t go unnoticed. Power Punch: In the midst of concerns over intolerance, Aamir, speaking at an Indian Express event, said, “For the first time, (wife Kiran) said, should we move out of India... That does indicate a sense of growing disquiet.” The Modi government appears to have put his remarks behind it — recently, Khan was invited to a private dinner hosted by the PM in Mumbai. What Next: The December release of Dangal, produced by Aamir Khan Productions and Disney Productions. By the way: He was once part of a theatre group with director Ashutosh Gowarikar and actor Raj Zutshi.
[caption id="attachment_2683803" align="alignnone" width="840"] K V Kamath[/caption] Rank 73: K V Kamath, 68, President, New Development Bank Rank 2015: 71 Why: Kamath, the force behind the success of ICICI Bank, is the first president of New Development Bank BRICS, formerly referred to as the BRICS Development Bank. NDB BRICS is a multilateral development bank operated by the BRICS states — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — as an alternative to the existing US-dominated World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Power Punch: NDB’s opening ceremony was held in July last year in Shanghai, where the bank’s headquarters is located. The NDB will have an initial authorised capital of $100 billion and initial subscribed capital of $50 billion, equally distributed among founding members. What Next: NDB is likely to monetise road projects in the country in addition to providing funding for fresh projects. NDB’s funding plan is likely to be unveiled in April 2016. By The Way: At REC Surathkal, Karnataka, he was president of the college union in the final year.
[caption id="attachment_2683811" align="alignnone" width="840"] N R Narayana Murthy[/caption] Rank 74: N R Narayana Murthy, 69, Infosys co-founder Rank in 2015: 72 Why: The founder of Infosys, one of the biggest employers of the Indian IT industry, Murthy is now the chairman emeritus of the company he helped shape. But sought after for his advice by the government and the private sector, the entrepreneur remains the conscience-keeper of corporate India. Power Punch: In July 2015, he pointed out that India’s scientific establishment had failed to do “impactful research”. Had India produced a single invention in the past 60-odd years that could be said to be indispensable, he asked, setting off a debate. He was also among the first business leaders to speak out during the intolerance debate. “The reality today is that there is considerable fear in the minds of minorities in India...,” he said in an interview to NDTV. What Next: He is keen to see India’s start-up ecosystem gear up to produce companies for the future. By The Way: Fond of travelling, Murthy likes to listen to The Beatles.
Rank 75: Deepak Parekh, 71, HDFC chairman Rank in 2015: 73 Why: One of the most accomplished Indian career bankers, Deepak Parekh is a source of guidance for top corporates, bankers, regulators as well as the government. Power Punch: Parekh was at the forefront of a signature campaign, launched on December 19, 2015, by the industry body CII, which urged MPs to allow the passage of the contentious GST bill — as the Opposition and the government remained at loggerheads. He also mildly criticised the RBI’s prescription on tackling bad loans, warning that “too much of anaesthesia could result in a patient becoming comatose”. What Next: His name is doing the rounds for the panel of experts on the proposed Bank Board Bureau, which will replace the appointment boards for naming whole-time directors and non-executive chairmen of public sector banks. By the way: As a trustee of the Bombay Scottish School, Parekh is much sought after in Mumbai. His disappointment at the declining standards of the school he went to — St Xaviers — prompted him to recently launch the HDFC range of schools.
Rank 76: Karan Johar, 43, Filmmaker Rank in 2015: 74 Why: 2015 saw Hindi cinema’s most famous producer-director play the role of a media baron in Bombay Velvet. He also “presented” the S S Rajamouli-directed Bahubali, whose world-wide earnings were pegged at over Rs 600 crore. Power Punch: Johar, along with Aamir Khan, Ronnie Screwvala, distributor Anil Thadani and Siddharth Roy Kapur of UTV-Disney Films, is said to be planning a venture to promote smaller multiplex chains. What Next: He is shooting his next film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. By the way: His acting debut was in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge.
Rank 77: Azim Premji, 70, Wipro founder-chairman Rank in 2015: 75 Why: Along with HCL co-founder Shiv Nadar, Azim Premji figured in Forbes's first-ever list of 100 richest people in technology, dominated by Americans, with Microsoft founder Bill Gates at the top. Power Punch: After committing 21 per cent of his stake in the company for charity, the Wipro founder earmarked 18 per cent more of it in 2015, making him the leading philanthropist in India by far. What Next: Premji announced that Wipro would add 25,000 tech jobs in Karnataka. By the way: He prefers staying in company guesthouses to hotels while travelling.
Rank 78: Parkash S Badal, 88, Punjab Chief Minister Rank in 2015: 76 Why: The oldest chief minister in the country, he continues to be the tallest Akali Dal leader, commanding the respect not only of his own party leaders but also of the top BJP leadership, including PM Narendra Modi. Last year, Modi called him India's Nelson Mandela. Power Punch: He hit the road to cool tempers following the Guru Granth Sahib “desecration” row. What Next: The biggest challenge is to win back the support of the Sikh community and peasantry, disillusioned over the pardon to Dera Sacha Sauda chief. By the way: An exercise enthusiast, he sticks to a healthy diet.
[caption id="attachment_2683801" align="alignnone" width="728"] Jyotiraditya Scindia[/caption] Rank 79: Jyotiraditya Scindia, 45, Congress MP Rank in 2015: 78 Why: He is one of Congress’s best speakers in the Lok Sabha. The last few Parliament sessions have seen him rally the party’s 45 MPs in the House. Power Punch: When he called the Emergency a “mistake”, his views were heard seriously by the party. What Next: Is likely to play a bigger role in Parliament. By the way: He once worked as an investment banker.
[caption id="attachment_2683793" align="alignnone" width="728"] Arundhati Bhattacharya[/caption] Rank 80: Arundhati Bhattacharya, 59, SBI chairperson Rank 2015: 97 Why: As head of the largest Indian bank, Bhattacharya has great influence in deciding the movement of interest rates and extending support to industry and the common man. Power Punch: Other PSU banks made huge losses, but SBI made a decent profit in the third quarter. What Next: SBI too is engaged in a clean-up of its bad debt books. By The Way: She reads two-three books at a time.
[caption id="attachment_2683802" align="alignnone" width="728"] K Chandrashekar Rao[/caption] Rank 81: K Chandrashekar Rao, 62, Telangana CM Rank 2015: 80 Why: Since becoming the first CM of the newly-formed state of Telangana, KCR, as he is fondly known, has become more powerful, with successive poll wins and government schemes that are being applauded, including the new industrial policy and plans for the poor. Power Punch: Recently, his party, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, broke records in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation by winning 99 seats out of 150. He also dealt a severe blow to the TDP, with seven of its 15 MLAs crossing over to the TRS. What Next: All eyes will be on how he handles the expected water crisis in the state this summer. By the way: Whenever he has some free time, KCR heads to his farmhouse and just walks through the fields.
[caption id="attachment_2683553" align="alignnone" width="728"] Akhilesh Yadav[/caption] Rank 82: Akhilesh Yadav, 42, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Rank in 2015: 81 Why: Despite father Mulayam Singh Yadav’s presence as a super-commander, the CM with age on his side has made some impact with his development works, including the Agra-Lucknow Expressway, 108 ambulance scheme etc. While UP’s dismal law and order is a matter of worry, aggressive branding has ensured the state is the second most visited by domestic tourists. Power Punch: The SP won more than half of the seats in the three-tier panchayat polls. What Next: The 2017 polls will be Akhilesh’s first elections as CM, and he must ensure he has a say in ticket distribution. By the way: He is a devoted family man, and shares photographs of his vacations with wife and children on social media.
[caption id="attachment_2683823" align="alignnone" width="728"] Salman Khan[/caption] Rank 83: Salman Khan, 50, Actor Rank in 2015: 83 Why: 2015 was undoubtedly Salman Khan’s year. Both his releases — Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Prem Ratan Dhan Payo — were the biggest hits of the year. His Eid releases continue to be much awaited. Power Punch: His acquittal in the 13-year-old hit-and-run case. Observing that “strong suspicion of guilt cannot be used to hold a person guilty”, the Bombay High Court acquitted Khan in December 2015. What Next: While Khan remains busy with his projects as actor and producer, the hit-and-run case may come back to haunt him as the Maharashtra government has appealed against his acquittal in the Supreme Court. By the way: Salman Khan was a champion swimmer in school.
[caption id="attachment_2683822" align="alignnone" width="728"] Saina Nehwal[/caption] Rank 84: Saina Nehwal, 25, Badminton player Rank in 2015: 86 Why: Nehwal is the first Indian to make it to the top in women’s singles badminton. In August last year, the 25-year-old broke the jinx of five World Championship quarterfinal losses to finally pick up a silver. She also won the Indian Super Series last year, another tournament on the circuit she hadn’t cracked before. Power Punch: With 10 endorsements in her kitty, she can be compared to mid-level cricketers. She questioned it openly when she wasn’t given a Padma Bhushan in 2015, and this year was named for the award. What Next: She will aim for a gold at the Olympics this year. She’s still to win the All England. By the Way: She mimics Akshay Kumar-Paresh Rawal comedies and posts Dubsmashes on Twitter.
[caption id="attachment_2683826" align="alignnone" width="728"] Sania Mirza[/caption] Rank 85: Sania Mirza, 29, Tennis player New on the list Why: Starting 2015 at No. 6, Sania Mirza went on to become World No. 1 in doubles, with Martina Hingis. The pair, who are known as Santina, started their dream run at Wimbledon and have won the US Open and this year’s Australian Open titles. Power Punch: Her Adidas deal is on a par with Virat Kohli’s and her tournament earnings are comparable to a top-notch cricketer’s, which is not a mean feat. Infostrada, the globally-reputed Olympics medal-predicting website, has put two medals against her name, in the mixed and women’s double categories. What Next: The Rio Olympics. By the Way: She loves the American medical drama series Grey’s Anatomy.
[caption id="attachment_2683805" align="alignnone" width="728"] Nadar[/caption] Rank 86: Kiran, and Shiv Nadar, 61 & 70, Trustee, Shiv Nadar Foundation; Chairperson, Shiv Nadar Foundation Rank in 2015: 87 Why: The Nadars have set aside $1 billion for the philanthropic Shiv Nadar Foundation. Power Punch: Kiran Nadar campaigned for duty waiver for importing artworks for public display, and won. Shiv Nadar’s biography was shelved before publication by Penguin on his instructions. What Next: HCL will invest $1 billion in Tamil Nadu over 5 years. By the way: Kiran Nadar has represented India in the card game bridge in several world championships.
[caption id="attachment_2683836" align="alignnone" width="728"] U K Sinha[/caption] Rank 87: U K Sinha, 63, SEBI Chairman Rank in 2015: 89 Why: After considering many titans from the financial sector to lead the Securities and Exchange Board of India, the government decided to retain U K Sinha for another year. Power Punch: The regulator announced new norms for listing of stock exchanges. What Next: With the merger of the Forward Markets Commission with SEBI last September, Sinha will be watched for how he accomplishes the task of integrating regulations of commodity derivatives market and stock market. By The Way: He loves poetry and music.
[caption id="attachment_2683427" align="alignnone" width="607"] Manish Sisodia[/caption] Rank 88: Manish Sisodia, 44, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Rank 2015: 90 Why: As Arvind Kejriwal’s No.2, he must keep the Delhi government running while the CM devotes his time to poll prospects and fighting various battles with the Centre. Power Punch: He handled the MCD crisis while Kejriwal was away in Bengaluru. What Next: In the next budget, Sisodia must balance subsidies, social sector spending. By The Way: He would rather be called education minister than deputy CM.
[caption id="attachment_2683809" align="alignnone" width="728"] M S Dhoni[/caption] Rank 89: M S Dhoni, 34, Cricketer Rank 2015: 91 Why: He may have retired from Test cricket in 2014, but he continues to be a powerful influence on Indian cricket in the shorter version of the game. Power Punch: A film on Dhoni will hit the screens in September this year. What Next: India will be hosting the World T20 this year. Could it be his swangsong? By the Way: Since his daughter Ziva was born, Dhoni has started carrying a mobile phone.
[caption id="attachment_2683834" align="alignnone" width="728"] Subramanian Swamy[/caption] Rank 90: Subramanian Swamy, 76, BJP National Executive member New on the list Why: He continues to pick up the cases and target the people that others would not. He also enjoys the backing of the RSS. Power Punch: His petition against Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa landed her in jail, though briefly, while Rahul and Sonia Gandhi find themselves in court owing to the National Herald case. What Next: A loose cannon, there is no telling the feet Swamy will tread on. His hardline stand on Ram Mandir and Pakistan talks could prove discomfiting for the BJP. By the way: His wife Roxna Swamy is his legal backbone, and taught him law.
[caption id="attachment_2683810" align="alignnone" width="728"] MK Stalin[/caption] Rank 91: MK Stalin, 62, DMK Treasurer Rank 2015: 95 Why: He is the apparent heir to his father M Karunanidhi, as the political career of his siblings Kanimozhi and M K Azhagiri remains uncertain. Should the DMK win in the coming polls, Stalin would be a power centre. Power Punch: He launched a pre-poll state-wide campaign from southern Tamil Nadu, going in for a professional image makeover. What Next: The coming elections will show whether he has evolved as a leader. By The Way: He has been in politics since his teens except for a brief period in the ’80s when he acted in TV serials.
[caption id="attachment_2683833" align="alignnone" width="728"] Subhash Chandra[/caption] Rank 92: Subhash Chandra, 65, Essel Group and ZEE Chairman New on the list Why: He is the head of the over $2.7 billion Essel Group, whose array of businesses includes media, theme parks, packaging, mining and infrastructure. Power Punch: Chandra ranks No. 18 among India’s richest and No. 393 among world’s billionaires. He is the key sponsor of India’s biggest lit fest and is close to the ruling party. What Next: He is working to expand the broadcasting arm of his company through a number of new channels across lifestyle and news. There are also plans to have a digital media news site. By the way: He started out with only Rs 17 in his pocket.
[caption id="attachment_2683798" align="alignnone" width="728"] Deepika Padukone[/caption] Rank 93: Deepika Padukone, 30, Actor Rank in 2015: 99 Why: For an actor in the prime of her career, Piku was a far from obvious choice, given its non-romantic, slice-of-life subject matter. Padukone went on to hold her own against Irrfan Khan and Amitabh Bachchan, two actors who dominate any scene they are in. Her performance was key to the film’s success. Power Punch: She broke a taboo by openly talking about her battle with depression, and founded the not-for-profit organisation Live Love Laugh Foundation to raise awareness about mental health. What Next: 2016 will see Padukone make her Hollywood debut opposite Vin Diesel in xXx: The Return of Xander Cage. By the way: She turned down Fast and Furious 7 due to her prior commitment to Goliyon ki Rasleela Ram-Leela.
[caption id="attachment_2683838" align="alignnone" width="728"] Vishal Sikka[/caption] Rank 94: Vishal Sikka, 48, Infosys CEO & MD New on the list Why: Twenty months after Sikka took over Infosys, the company posted a profit of Rs 3,465 crore in October-December 2015-16, up from Rs 2,886 crore in April-June 2014-15. Power Punch: The attrition rate in Infosys has fallen from over 20 per cent at the time he took over to 13.4 per cent. What Next: Sikka aims to take the software firm to revenues of $20 billion by 2020. India’s second largest software exporter is also betting big on virtual reality. It recently announced cash awards for 20 entrepreneurs every year so as “to encourage ideas that solve real life problems”. By the way: Sikka runs a blog called ‘Timelessness — Musings on Constants and other Invariants’.
[caption id="attachment_2683791" align="alignnone" width="728"] Anandiben Patel[/caption] Rank 95: Anandiben Patel, 74, Gujarat Chief Minister Rank in 2015: 93 Why: With Gujarat going to polls next year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has built his image alongside that of the state, will be watching Patel’s performance here. She has survived despite the rising factionalism in the state BJP, the Patidar stir and the allegations of out-of-turn land allotments. Power Punch: Under her, the BJP won all the six municipal corporations and around 40 of the 56 municipalities in semi-urban towns in recent elections. What Next: With the Amit Shah camp asserting itself, she must find a way to consolidate her position. By the way: She is fond of cooking and is known to be an expert in rolling out bhakris.
[caption id="attachment_2683815" align="alignnone" width="728"] Prashant Kishor[/caption] Rank 96: Prashant Kishor, 39, Election strategist New on the list Why: With his thick-rimmed glasses and spiky gelled hair, Prashant Kishor does not look like he belongs to politics. But then, the election strategist, backroom boy and Chanakya of our times (the terminology around him is still evolving) has established quickly that his presence in the political world is entirely on his own terms. Now, for those who can’t get Kishor, the market is flooded with me-toos. Power Punch: After the 2014 general election where his contribution was not sufficiently acknowledged, he helped the Mahagathbandhan to a massive win in Bihar. What Next: He has taken up the brief for Congress in Punjab, which is another prestige battle for BJP. By the way : Team Kishor is made up entirely of technocrats.
[caption id="attachment_2683827" align="alignnone" width="728"] Shah Rukh Khan[/caption] Rank 97: Shah Rukh Khan, 50, Actor New on the list Why: At 50, he is still India’s top romantic hero. Dilwale, where he teamed up with Kajol, didn’t do too well at the box office, but that has not dented his fan base or his advertising deals. His team Kolkata Knight Riders is among top IPL contenders. Power Punch: “Religious intolerance and not being secular… is the worst kind of crime that you can do as a patriot,” Khan had said in November, lending his voice to the debate. What Next: Khan has two key releases this year. In Raees, he plays a Muslim bootlegger in Gujarat. In Fan, Khan has a double role where he plays a film star and also his biggest fan. By the way: His first job was as an usher at a Pankaj Udhas concert in Delhi in the 1980s, for which he got Rs 50.
[caption id="attachment_2683817" align="alignnone" width="728"] Priyanka Chopra[/caption] Rank 98: Priyanka Chopra, 33, Actor New on the list Why: She became the first South Asian to headline an American network TV series with Quantico. She also had two impressive releases in 2015 in Dil Dhadakne Do, Bajirao Mastani. Power Punch: She was awarded the Padma Shri. She also won the People’s Choice Award 2016 for ‘Favorite Actress in a New TV Series’ for Quantico. What Next: Prakash Jha’s Jai Gangaajal, with her in the lead, is up next. She will also make her debut as a producer with her production house backing regional cinema. By the way: Chopra switches to a new perfume with every new project.
[caption id="attachment_2683832" align="alignnone" width="728"] Sri Sri Ravi Shankar[/caption] Rank 99: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, 59,Founder, Art of Living New on the list Why: In 2015, the spiritual guru won the highest civilian prizes given by South American countries Colombia and Peru, apart from the Padma Vibhushan. He was conferred the prizes for his social work and peace efforts. Power Punch: The peace he brokered between Colombia troops and guerrilla movement FARC in the course of his visit to Cuba in 2015. What Next: Sri Sri has emerged as a key figure in the debate over the ban on entry of women in certain temples of India. He has advocated a middle path. By the way: He is one of the founders of the World Forum for Ethics in Business.
[caption id="attachment_2683870" align="alignnone" width="728"] Ravish Kumar[/caption] Rank 100: Ravish Kumar, 41, Senior executive editor, NDTV India New on the list Why: In the noisy space of television news, he stands out with his informed, incisive and often witty takes on current affairs. One of the most influential anchors in Hindi news, who takes up issues that concern the common man, he is heard when he speaks by viewers and his blog has a large following. Power Punch: He made a powerful statement against news TV’s coverage of the JNU stand-off by blanking out the screen on his Primetime show. What Next: He recently turned author with Ishq Mein Shahar Hona. By The Way: From Motihari in Bihar, he studied history at DU.