Seven Indians among finalists in Time’s list of most influential 100

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : Seven Indians, including Congress party president Sonia Gandhi, industrialists Ratan Tata and Mukesh Ambani and media mogul Ronnie Screwvala are among the finalists in Time magazine’s list of 100 Most Influential People of 2009.

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Time would publish the final list later in the year. But in a continuing online poll on Time’s website, the list of 203 finalists is currently headed by “moot”, the founder of, a website for posting images and discussions anonymously. Barack Obama, the first African-American president of the US, is ranked 13th.

Gandhi, who is leading the ruling Congress party’s bid for re-election in the parliamentary polls, is ranked 43 – ahead of Tata (102), the maker of the world’s cheapest car Nano, and Ambani (169), who the publication referred to as “petrol prince”.

The other three Indians in the finalists’ list are Pepsico chief executive Indra Nooyi, public face for Washington’s Troubled Asset Relief Programme Neel Kashkari, and Harvard-educated management consultant Ram Charan.

Screwvala is currently top-ranked among Indians at 33rd overall place, Nooyi is at 89, Kashkari 187 and Charan 193.

“Slumdog Millionaire” fame British filmmaker Danny Boyle, who hit the headlines with the Oscar-winning movie shot in Mumbai’s slums, is also among the finalists.

On Gandhi, 62, who has figured on Time’s 100 Most Influential People list twice before, the publication said that the “the Italian-born head of India’s most influential political party is beloved by her constituents, not only because of her family history (she entered politics after her husband Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated) but also because of her efforts to combat poverty”.

However, in a negative for her, the Congress party president “has been bogged down by a public spat with one of her rivals,” it said, without specifying who the rival is.

Among the Indians, Ratan Tata, who has been on Time’s annual list once before, has been described as having “introduced the Tata Nano,the world’s first $2,500 car. Set for release in India this spring, the ‘people’s car’ could be a boon for low-income communities”.

On the negative side, Nano’s low price could make the car too accessible, flooding streets with even more CO2-spouting vehicles, Time said.

Naming 51-year old Mukesh Ambani as the “petrol prince”, Time said the billionaire chairman of Reliance Industries steers one of the biggest conglomerates in India, with interests in not only oil, but also clothing and kitchenware.

However, he is still mired in a public spat with his billionaire brother, Time said, while advising him to “duke it out using pillows stuffed with $1,000 bills”.

About PepsiCo CEO Nooyi, who has twice made to its annual list, Time said that as head of one of the world’s most far-reaching food conglomerates, “she has pledged to steer the US away from junk food and toward healthy eating…(however) profits took a hit last year. And while healthful snacking is nice and all, there ain’t nothing wrong with Funyons”.

Mumbai-based UTV Group CEO Screwvala “is hoping to export his Bollywood know-how to the US, partnering with such companies as Fox Searchlight and Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment,” the magazine said.