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Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee
Who’s winning after all?

Ahead of the Delhi elections, Kiran Bedi emerges as the most admired Indian woman

By Shelly Walia

Delhi goes to the polls on Feb. 7, and, as opinion polls show, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may be facing a possible defeat.

But the party is winning elsewhere—its newly appointed chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi has emerged as the country’s most admired Indian woman in an online survey.

The poll, conducted by British market research company YouGov, surveyed 25,000 people in 23 countries. In India, the poll effectively represents only the country’s online population.

The online admiration for Bedi is in contrast to claims that the party was struggling in Delhi because of her unpopularity. The first woman officer in the Indian Police Service, Bedi was inducted into the party and appointed as the chief ministerial candidate just about three weeks ago.

Most admired women

On the list of India’s most admired women, Pakistani education activist and Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai stood first, while Bedi was just a notch lower. American actor Angelina Jolie stood third, followed by former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, Bollywood actor Katrina Kaif and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Rank India’s most admired women
1 Malala Yousafzai
2 Kiran Bedi
3 Angelina Jolie
4 Hillary Clinton
5 Katrina Kaif
6 Sonia Gandhi
7 Aung San Suu Kyi
8 Michelle Obama
9 Kareena Kapoor
10 Oprah Winfrey

On the world list of admired women, Yousafzai ranked second, while Bedi did not feature in the top 20. Instead, Congress’ Gandhi ranked 13, and the only Indian to feature in the top 20. Jolie took the top spot.

Most admired men

Unsurprisingly, prime minister Narendra Modi was India’s most admired man. He was followed by cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Bollywood actor Salman Khan and US president Barack Obama.

Rank India’s most admired men
1 Narendra Modi
2 Sachin Tendulkar
3 Bill Gates
4 Salman Khan
5 Barack Obama
6 The Dalai Lama
7 Kailash Satyarthi
8 Jackie Chan
9 Warren Buffett
10 David Beckham

On the world list, however, Modi emerged as the fifth most admired man—behind Gates, Obama, Chinese president Xi Jinping and Hong Kong action superstar Jackie Chan. Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama placed seventh.

Again, Modi was the only Indian man in the world’s top 20.