Sonia Gandhi, Kochhar, Nooyi in Forbes 100 powerful women list


New York : Congress party president Sonia Gandhi, PepsiCo chief executive Indra Nooyi and ICICI Bank’s new head Chanda Kochhar have been listed among the world’s 100 most powerful women by Forbes magazine.

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All three of them have been ranked higher than US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the list, which has German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the top, followed by US Federal Deposit Insurance chairperson Sheila Bair.

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairperson of Bangalore-based Biocon, is another Indian woman to make the list.

Chennai-born Nooyi has been ranked third on the list, followed by the 13th position for Gandhi, 20th position for Kochhar and 91st for Mazumdar-Shaw.

“Gandhi, the Italian-born leader of India’s most powerful political party, the Indian National Congress Party, is still the country’s dominant force since she reluctantly entered politics in the 1990s,” said the magazine.

“A landslide victory for her Congress party in May solidified her position and weakened the Communists and nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party,” it said.

“Although Gandhi is widely revered by her fellow countrymen, especially India’s poor and its vast agricultural population, her party’s victory is being seen as a test.”

Referring to Nooyi, Forbes said she has been struggling to revamp falling profits in PepsiCo’s core beverage business.

“Focusing on innovation instead of acquisition, the company is debuting new product lines, targeted marketing and repackaging efforts in 2009,” it said about the strategies Nooyi was adopting.

The magazine said Kochhar had created a stir when she was named in December to be the first woman boss of ICICI Bank, India’s second largest bank and, until lately, its fastest-growing.

“After taking charge in May, she now oversees a bank with assets of $100 billion. After topping her B-school class, she joined ICICI 25 years ago as a management trainee, when it was a wholesale lending institution,” the magazine added.

“She wears saris to work, some of which she designs herself.”

On Mazumdar-Shaw, Forbes said: “Australian-trained brewer, she runs Biocon, India’s first biotech enterprise, which she founded in 1978. Got her start by partnering with an Irish firm to make industrial enzymes.”

A one-time weekend golfer, Mazumdar-Shaw now lists work as her main hobby and remains an avid art collector, the magazine added.

In assembling the list, Forbes has looked for women who run countries, large companies or influential nonprofits. Their rankings are a combination of two scores: visibility and the size of the organization or country they lead.