Narendra Modi is the world’s most powerful Indian—but not as powerful as Sonia Gandhi once was

Quartz india
Quartz india

Prime minister Narendra Modi is the 15th most powerful person in the world, according to Forbes magazine’s power rankings this year.

Making his debut on the list, Modi has been credited for “ushering the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) into power after decades of control by the Gandhi dynasty.” Besides Modi, there are 11 newcomers in the list of the world’s most powerful heads of state, CEOs, entrepreneurs and philanthropists in the world. Indian-American Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella debuted at number 64.

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh fell off the list after featuring six consecutive times since its inception in 2009. He had entered the list at number 36, and ranked 28th last year.

Another Indian who missed the cut this year was Sonia Gandhi, who has been a presence among the world’s most powerful since 2010 when she entered at number 9. Until last year, the Congress Party president’s position was secure, at number 21.

“The world is as impressed as the citizens of India,” explained Forbes for Modi’s appearance on the list. However, it also mentioned that Modi was “allegedly responsible for encouraging and allowing communal violence and sectarianism in the Gujarat riots in 2002 and on a US no-entry list since 2005 to 2014.”

For making the list, Forbes assess each candidate’s power on four parameters. A panel of Forbes editors measures each person’s financial resources, the scope of power, the number of people they influence and the effective use of power. “It is an evaluation of hard power. We insist the people on our list wield the kind of power that shapes and bends the world, and moves people, markets, armies and minds,” Forbes wrote.

The other Indian on the list is Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani, the country’s richest businessman for eight consecutive years, ranked at number 36. “In October, prime minister Narendra Modi inaugurated Ambani’s Reliance Foundation’s new hospital in Mumbai, ending rumours about Ambani’s waning clout in New Delhi,” Forbes noted. Ambani, 57, moved two notches up from last year’s 38th position, though his net worth fell by over $200 million.

And for the second year running, Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin was named the most powerful person in the world, followed by US President Barack Obama and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

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