Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday made his debut among the world’s most powerful people, ranked 15th on the Forbes list topped by Russian President Vladimir Putin who pipped his US counterpart Barack Obama for a second year in a row.
The list of 72 most powerful people in the world also included the names of Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani at 36th, ArcelorMittal chairman and CEO Lakshmi Mittal at 57th and Microsoft’s Indian-born CEO Satya Nadella at 64th.
On Modi, Forbes said “India’s newest rockstar doesn’t hail from Bollywood. He is the newly elected Prime Minister who sailed into office in May with a landslide victory, ushering the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) into power after decades of control by the Gandhi dynasty.”
Forbes described him as a “Hindu nationalist” and refereed to the 2002 Gujarat riots when he was the state’s chief minister.
“Modi is credited with massive reconstruction projects in his home state of Gujarat. His administration promises to bring economic rejuvenation to other beleaguered parts of India. The world is as impressed as the citizens of India: So far he’s toured the US and China and met with his Southeast Asian neighbours,” the magazine said.
This year there are 12 newcomers on the list, including Modi and Egypt President Abdel el-Sisi.
Alibiba founder and China’s richest man — Jack Ma also makes a first appearance on the list after his record-breaking $25 billion initial public offering in September, as does terror group Islamic State’s chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
A notable omission from the list is Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who was the highest ranked Indian last year at 21.
The next Indian after Modi on the list is Ambani at 36th. Forbes said Ambani has business ventures in petrochemicals, manufacturing, oil and gas production, and now wireless sectors, “the sum of which have landed him as the richest person in India for eight years running.”
It noted Reliance’s $655 million acquisition of media outfit Network18.
In October, Modi inaugurated Ambani’s Reliance Foundation’s new hospital in Mumbai, “ending rumours about Ambani’s waning clout in New Delhi,” it said.
This is the second year in a row that Putin carries the crown. Obama had previously been on the top of the list for every year with the exception of 2010, when Hu Jintao, the former political and military leader of China, was ranked 1.
The top five remain the same as 2013 — Chinese President Xi Jinping ranked third, Pope Francis at No. 4 and the world’s most powerful woman German Chancellor Angela Merkel ranked fifth.
Fed chief Janet Yellen moves into into sixth position, followed by Bill Gates and European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron slides up to number 10. The most powerful people in business are Google’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin, both ranked nine.
The Forbes list of the ‘World’s 72 Most Powerful People’ who “rule the world” features 17 heads of state who run nations with a combined GDP of about $48 trillion.
It has 39 CEOs and chairs who control over $3.6 trillion in annual revenues. Among the corporate honchos are 14 founders, including the newcomer billionaires to the list, Alibaba’s Ma and Tencent’s Ma Huateng.
Forbes said after a year when Putin annexed Crimea, staged a proxy war in the Ukraine and inked a deal to build a more than $70 billion gas pipeline with China, its choice of him as the most powerful person “simply seems prescient.”
“Russia looks more and more like an energy-rich, nuclear-tipped rogue state with an undisputed, unpredictable and unaccountable head unconstrained by world opinion in pursuit of its goals,” it said.
“Heading into the second half of his second term, Obama seems stymied both by the West African Ebola breakout and a blood-thirsty militia named ISIS, which threaten to undo all the gains of a 9-year war in Iraq that cost the lives of 4,500 Americans,” Forbes said.
Terror group Islamic State’s chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was also in the list. (Reuters photo)
It said at home, Obama had to address the racially charged images of unrest in Ferguson, Missouri which mocked his 2008 message of “Change.”
“On the plus side, unemployment is at its lowest level since the Great Recession and the markets continue test new highs. One word sums up his second place finish: caution. He has the power but has been too cautious to fully exercise it,” it said.
Forbes said for the first time, two women, Merkel and Yellen, reached the top 10.
This year there are nine women on the list, representing 12 per cent of the world’s most powerful — in stark contrast to being 50 per cent of the world’s population.
While the same number as last year, the inaugural list from 2009 included only three women leaders.
Alexey Miller, CEO of Russian gas giant Gazprom, makes a return appearance after dropping of the list in years past.
The list also includes French President Francois Hollande (17), Iran’s Grand Ayatollah Ali Hoseini-Khamenei (19), Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (22), Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu (26), Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein (27), UN Secretray Geberal Ban Ki-moon (40), forner US President Bill Clinton (44), North Lorean leader Kim Jong-un (49) and Japanese leader Shinzo Abe (63).