Washington, Nov 4 (IANS) Congress president Sonia Gandhi has been ranked ninth in the list of world’s most powerful people by the Forbes magazine, which put Chinese President Hu Jintao on the top. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh occupied the 18th place.
‘Despite Italian birth, foreign religion (Roman Catholic) and political reluctance, Gandhi wields unequalled influence over one billion Indians,’ Forbes said.
It said she was ‘recently elected to a record fourth term as head of India’s ruling Congress party, cementing (the) status as true heiress to the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty’.
The other Indians who made it to the list released Wednesday are Manmohan Singh (18th), telecom mogul Sunil Mittal (44) and industrialist Ratan Tata (61).
Describing him as ‘brainy Sikh economist’, Forbest said that Manmohan Singh was widely praised ‘as India’s bet prime minister ‘ since Jawaharlal Nehru, the country’s first prime minister.
‘But Gandhi remains the real power behind the nuclear-tipped throne,’ it said.
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.
China’s Hu was named the world’s most powerful person, ahead of even US President Barack Obama, who topped last year’s rankings. Obama is now just behind Hu.
According to the magazine, the list comprises ‘the 68 who matter’ globally.
The Forbes 2010 list contains heads of state, major religious figures and entrepreneurs. Forbes said they were chosen ‘because, in various ways, they bend the world to their will’.
The Italy-born Sonia Gandhi is the widow of slain former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, whom she married in 1968. Her mother-in-law was Indira Gandhi, the Indian prime minister who was assassinated in 1984 and the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, the country’s first prime minister.
Sonia Gandhi remained aloof from politics even after her husband was assassinated in 1991 by the Tamil Tigers. She joined the Congress party in December 1997, and was soon elected its president — a post she holds.
Sonia Gandhi was widely credited for the surprise Congress victory in parliamentary elections in 2004 and again five years later.
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).