Sonia ahead of Manmohan in Forbes list, Hu bests Obama

Washington, Nov 4 (IANS) Sonia Gandhi, chairperson of India’s ruling alliance, has been ranked ninth in the Forbes list of the world’s most powerful people that is headed by Chinese President Hu Jintao. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been placed at number 18.

Hu pushed US President Barack Obama from the top to the second spot. The list is of 68 people ‘who matter’ globally.

The list also features Tata Sons Chairman Ratan Tata and steel giant ArcelorMittal Chairman Lakshmi Mittal among the five Indians picked from 6.8 billion people on the planet.

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who has lived in India in self-imposed exile since fleeing his homeland in 1959, occupied the 39th place. The Tibetan government-in-exile is based in Dharamsala, India.

The heads of state, major religious figures, entrepreneurs and outlaws on the second annual list were chosen ‘because, in various ways, they bend the world to their will.’

Sonia Gandhi, who debuts on the 9th spot in this year’s list of the world’s most powerful people, was not featured in Forbes’ recent list of the world’s most powerful women.

Recently elected to a record fourth term as head of the ruling Congress Party, 63-year old Gandhi has cemented her ‘status as true heiress to the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty,’ Forbes said.

‘Despite Italian birth, foreign religion (Roman Catholic) and political reluctance, Gandhi wields unequalled influence over one billion Indians,’ it said.

Having ‘handpicked brainy Sikh economist Manmohan Singh’ as prime minister, Forbes said Gandhi remains the real power behind the nuclear-tipped throne.

Forbes said the soft-spoken Oxford-trained economist was ‘ideally trained to lead the world’s fourth-largest economy in terms of purchasing power into the next decade.’

Credited with transforming India’s quasi-socialist economy into world’s second-fastest growing, 78-year old Manmohan Singh was now enjoying the fruits of free-market policies he implemented as India’s finance minister in early 1990s, it said.

With the World Bank forecasting India’s GDP to surge 7.6 percent in 2010 and another eight percent in 2011 – not far behind its 9 per cent forecast for China, Forbes described it as clearly the case of ‘slow and steady will win the race’.

Taking the 44th spot is 60-year old Lakshmi Mittal with a net worth of $28.7 billion. London’s wealthiest resident, Mittal moved up 11 notches in this year’s ranking from his 55th spot last year.

Tata dropped two notches from last year and comes in at the 61st position. Calling the 72-year old Tata as ‘India’s best brand ambassador,’ Forbes said Tata made ‘automotive history’ last year with his ‘People’s Car’ – the $2,200 Tata Nano, the world’s cheapest auto.

The top 10 also includes Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al Saud (3), Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (4), Pope Benedict XVI (5), German Chancellor Angela Merkel (6), British Prime Minister David Cameron (7), US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke (8) and Microsoft founder Bill Gates (10).

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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