ie 100 2014: RBI guv Raghuram Rajan, FM P. Chidambaram, RIL's Mukesh Ambani in most powerful Indians list

Written by Express news service | New Delhi | Updated: Mar 14 2014, 20:01pm hrs
Powerful Indians
If ever there was a defining year in Indian politics, it has to be the last twelve months. With general elections fast approaching and political fortunes riding a rollercoaster, the dynamics of power in India have undergone a dramatic transformation. Here's one example. In our 2013 power list, Arvind Kejriwal, messianic leader of the Aam Aadmi Party, ranked a lowly 79, below Aamir Khan and Jayanthi Natarajan. In the latest list, he ranks fourth. In 14 months, he launched a new party, won a state election, became chief minister for 49 days, and now aims higher, the Lok Sabha polls with him being projected as a future prime minister. In sharp contrast, we have seen the decline of the Congress and the rise of regional satraps, a development reflected in our 2014 Power List. Three regional leaders, J Jayalalithaa (19 last year), Mamata Banerjee (25 last year) and Mayawati (22 last year), feature in the Top Ten. Then there is the overpowering presence of Narendra Modi and his relentless rise as the only officially declared PM candidate. His personality-based campaign and social media deluge have made him a true game-changer. Power, in the Indian context, has been redefined like never before.

Easily the most significant development of the past year, apart from Kejriwal, has been the power shift created by the dwindling fortunes of the Congress, reflected in a raft of opinion polls. Power, it is said, abhors a vacuum and whoever fills that space will also decide the future of Indian politics and the contours of the next government. The changing power equations do not restrict themselves to politics. Business leaders are also showing a downward slide. India's most powerful corporate tycoon, Mukesh Ambani, has dropped from number 12 last year to 19 this year. That is possibly to do with the global economic crisis and the business environment in India, handicapped by the policy paralysis in the UPA government, as also the many scams that involved businessmen. Indeed, the very fact that 27 individuals on last year's power list have dropped out, ranging from politicians, businessmen, bankers, the judiciary and higher bureaucracy, only reconfirms the changing dynamics of India's power structure. Power is defined simply as the ability to control and/or influence people and resources. This definition can also bring about a negative connotation of the term, depicting power as an unscrupulous concept. Much of Kejriwal's anti-corruption campaign and Modi's attack on the UPA, have targeted precisely that aspect of power, its misuse, and confirmed political philosopher Edmund Burke's theory that the greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse. In that context, it is interesting that agencies like the CBI have acquired greater importance and clout. Current CBI boss Ranjit Sinha is now ranked 27 compared to his 2013 ranking of 65.

More dramatic has been the list of 27 new entrants, again reflective of the changing political dynamics. Two members of the AAP, Manish Sisodia and Yogendra Yadav, feature on the list, as do KC Rao, president of the TRS who spearheaded the Telangana campaign, and four members of Modi's inner circle in Gujarat, including Amit Shah, who debuts at number 18 on the list. Their inclusion is predicated on the dominant role that Modi is likely to play in India's political future. That also explains the number of BJP and RSS stalwarts who occupy the front portion of the list. Conversely, the 27 individuals who have been dropped from last year's list contains the names of 11 Congress leaders or those connected to the party. The constants, starting with the President, will remain, since those who occupy certain official positions continue to exercise power. That has been the matrix followed by our jury comprising Indian Express editors and reporters who track politics, business, society and sport. As always, there are the mini lists, our pick of the top ten from various fields.

Read Full Report: The Indian Express Most Powerful Indians

Here's our list of the most powerful personalities in the business world:

No 16

Raghuram Rajan, 51

Governor, Reserve Bank of India

RANK 13: 55

WHY

He has taken a host of measures to stabilise the rupee which has been plunging against the US dollar, build up forex reserves, reduce current account deficit and bring down inflation. He has announced several plans to improve financial inclusion and monetary policy. He has so far refused to reverse the monetary policy stance of his predecessor D Subbarao.

POWER PUNCH

He became RBI Governor in September 2013, the second youngest to head Indias central bank after C D Deshmukh.

WHAT NEXT

He will have to kickstart growth and continue his battle against inflation. To achieve higher growth, he may have to bring down interest rates and tame prices. He will have to issue new banking licences in the coming months. His problem area is high fiscal deficit.

BY THE WAY

Rajan is a fitness freak just like his predecessor.

No 17

P. Chidambaram, 68

Union Finance Minister

RANK 13: 5

WHY: The few economic initiatives that the government has taken this year largely flow from his office. These include projects cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Investments, clearing of conditions for telecom auction, and his joint fight with RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan to tame inflation, which has started to show results after stubbornly staying up seven years.

POWER PUNCH

He has convinced global rating agencies that the fiscal deficit of India will remain under control for two successive years. With plummeting growth and demands for freebies all round, just this one step will ensure that investment flows will not dip.

WHAT NEXT

Will he try to retain his Sivaganga seat in Tamil Nadu or give it up for a Rajya Sabha nomination The answer should be out in a few days.

BY THE WAY

Has a spartan lifestyle, can surprise you by landing up at a private dinner driving his own car even as home or finance minister.

No 19

Mukesh Ambani, 56

Chairman, Reliance Industries

RANK 13: 12

WHY

With a net worth of $21 billion, Mukesh Ambani retained his title as Indias wealthiest man for the sixth year in a row, bucking the broader slowdown in the economy that saw the collective wealth of Indias 100 richest persons soar by 3 per cent.

POWER PUNCH

Spearheaded a mega infrastructure sharing deal between Reliance Jio Infocomm and then telecom rival Bharti Airtel in December 2013, taking everyone in the industry by surprise. The deal came on the heels of another mega telecom pact with Reliance Communications, the ADAG group company with which Reliance Jio had signed a tower-sharing pact.

WHAT NEXT

RIL is betting big on its big telecom foray with fourth-generation (4G) services to be offered by Reliance Jio, the only operator in India with a nationwide licence.

BY THE WAY

Mumbai Indians player Dwayne Bravo calls him Madam bosss (Nita Ambanis) husband.

No 23

Cyrus Pallonji Mistry, 45

Chairman, Tata Group

RANK 13: 50

WHY

Having completed one year as the chairman of the largest diversified Indian business group, Mistry demonstrated a smooth leadership transformation and had a steady start. He also built a young team of his own during the year that may last with him during his tenure as the chairman of the group.

POWER PUNCH

In his first year, he led the group to make its second entry into the aviation sector in alliance with Singapore Airlines and also entered into a joint venture with Tesco for multi-brand retail.

WHAT NEXT

While the domestic operations of Tata Motors need a closer look, steel, power and telecom businesses also need attention.

BY THE WAY

He is a foodie and also enjoys reading books on business.

No 30

Narayanaswami Srinivasan, 69

President, The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)

RANK 13: 73

WHY

For steadfastly holding his ground despite the unyielding storm around him when his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan was arrested for alleged involvement in IPL betting and his position as Indian cricket's supremo seemed untenable.

POWER PUNCH

Srinivasan has ensured that the richest board in world cricket gets richer by orchestrating an ambitious overhaul in the ICC's corridors of power and making India unofficially the ultimate authority.

WHAT NEXT

He takes over as ICC chairman from July.

BY THE WAY

Godfather is his all-time favourite book.

No 34

Deepak Parekh, 69

Chairman, HDFC Ltd

RANK 13: 42

WHY

The man for all seasons, Delhis policymakers value his feedback. He chairs several government panels, including the High Level Committee on Infrastructure Financing, and is on the board of some of the largest companies.

POWER PUNCH

Not only is HDFC one of the leading housing financiers but HDFC Bank is the second largest private sector bank in the country. Parekh has also shot into limelight for his stand against corruption.

WHAT NEXT

Modi takes him very seriously and he may get a key role on economic policy in a Modi government.

BY THE WAY

A compulsive problem solver, his eyes light up the moment somebody presents to him his problem.

No 38

Anil Ambani, 54

Chairman, Reliance ADA Group

RANK 13: 29

WHY

His group is among India's top three private sector business houses with assets in excess of Rs 180,000 crore, a net worth to the tune of Rs 89,000 crore, and with interests ranging from communications to financial services to power to infrastructure and entertainment.

POWER PUNCH

He hosted Oscar-winning filmmaker Steven Spielberg at his home in Mumbai.

WHAT NEXT

One of the biggest challenges for his group is to reduce the debt of his telecom company and execute the 4,000 MW UMPP project at Sasan.

BY THE WAY

Has been a teetotaller, except for one swig of champagne at his wedding to Tina Ambani.

No 39

Nandan Nilekani, 58

Chairman, UIDAI

RANK 13: 37

WHY

Nilekanis Aadhaar experiment has changed the way e-governance is perceived in India. For the UPA government, it may be a missed opportunity that Aadhaar as a means to cut graft has come a bit too late, but the strongest endorsement for his model has come from the RBI which has made Aadhaar issued to 56 crore Indians the basis of banking identity.

POWER PUNCH

Countries in Africa and some of our neighbours have begun to discover the virtues of Aadhaar. This could be India's biggest identifiable software export abroad soon.

WHAT NEXT

With Nilekani all set to be fielded from Bangalore South, it will be interesting to see how this technocrat takes to politics.

BY THE WAY

Boss is his favourite word when he speaks.

No 41

Anand Mahindra, 58

Chairman & MD, Mahindra & Mahindra

RANK 13: 38

WHY

He is India Incs Mr Clean. Satyam Computers, which he acquired in 2009 and is now called Tech Mahindra, has become the countrys fifth largest IT company with annual revenue of $2.7 billion.

POWER PUNCH

Under him, South Korea's Ssangyong, which M&M acquired in 2011, turned around in 2013 with record sales of 1.45 lakh units.

WHAT NEXT

After the roaring success of its SUVs, M&M is all set to launch an electric sports car. The latest Auto Expo showcased the new Formula E car. Electric version of Mahindras Verito and Maxximo would also be ready for commercialisation by the year-end.

BY THE WAY

He is among the most popular corporates on Twitter, with 1.1 million followers.

No 44

Rahul Bhatia, 52

Chairman, IndiGo

RANK 13: 69

WHY

At a time when other airlines in India are losing money, IndiGo has been making steady profits.

POWER PUNCH

IndiGo continues to maintain its lead over other carriers in being the largest carrier in terms of passenger carriage, which it achieved in July 2012. The company reported a net profit of

Rs 787 crore during 2012-13.

WHAT NEXT

IndiGo has to tread cautiously to ensure that its profitability and market leadership remain intact since two new carriers are likely to start operations this calendar year.

BY THE WAY

He has a collection of bags, some of them dating back to the 70s.

No 48

UK Sinha, 62

Chairman, Securities and Exchange Board of India

RANK 13: 48

WHY

Under Sinha's chairmanship, SEBI moved strongly to safeguard the interests of small investors against illegally-run collective investment schemes. The SEBI Bill is, however, awaiting Parliament's approval.

POWER PUNCH

Sinha was granted a two-year extension as chairman and he is the first one from among the last four chairmen to have got an extension after completion of the initial three year period.

WHAT NEXT

While the SEBI ordinance has lapsed the third time as it was not promulgated by the President, the SEBI Bill is still awaiting Parliament's nod. At a time when the trust in the market is weak, SEBI has the tough task of building the trust of retail investors.

BY THE WAY

Loves to read Urdu poetry and listening to ghazals.

No 50

N R Narayana Murthy, 67

Executive chairman, Infosys

new on the list

WHY

Murthy, who retired in 2011, came back last year to rescue a struggling Infosys. Eight months later, the company is already showing signs of a turnaround. It has also narrowed down the valuation gap with TCS, its fast-growing rival.

POWER PUNCH

Infosys beat market expectations and posted a robust rise in profit in the third quarter of 2013-14, beating market expectations.

WHAT NEXT

After a gap of two years, Infosys is planning to go to campuses to hire about16,000 engineers. There have been eight high-profile exits since he returned to take charge, he will now have to fill those slots.

BY THE WAY

His first job was at IIM-Ahmedabad, where he helped as primary technique developer.

No 51

Samir Jain, 58

Vice Chairman, Bennett and Coleman and Co. Ltd

Vineet Jain, 46

Managing Director, BCCL

RANK 13: 74

WHY

Their media conglomerate is one of the biggest in the world.

POWER CRUNCH

Not only have they captured the English newspaper industry but also have left competition far behind in the English TV news arena with Times Now.

WHAT NEXT

Looking at other sectors such as vocational education.

BY THE WAY

Last year, as part of their cost-cutting initiatives, they launched what they called Operation Rajnikant and Op Dark Knight in which they set such impossible targets for employees that only a Rajnikanth or a Dark Knight was likely to achieve them.

No 52

M M GUPTA, 72

SANJAY GUPTA, 45

CMD/CEO and Editor, Jagran Prakashan

RANK 13: 75

WHY

Dainik Jagran wields tremendous influence in the Hindi heartland; it topped the Indian Readership Survey 2013. The group claims readership of about 41 lakh. Its newspaper operations alone comprise nine titles in five different languages, sweeping across 15 states with over 100 editions

POWER PUNCH

Rivals like Dainik Bhaskar have been unable to beat Dainik Jagran despite entering new markets.

WHAT NEXT

The big plan includes expanding readership of the recently acquired Nai Duniya in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh considered the bastions of Dainik Bhaskar.

By the way

Their annual chaat parties are a hit, something to look forward to.

56

KUMAR MANGALAM BIRLA, 46

Chairman, Aditya Birla Group

RANK 13: 45

WHY

Birla heads a US $40 billion corporation, the Aditya Birla Group, which is in the League of Fortune 500. Hes a leading player in cement, metals and telecom.

POWER PUNCH

Birla, who acquired several companies such as Novelis, Pantaloon and a 27.5 per cent stake in Living Media, bought Jaypees Gujarat cement unit for Rs 3,800 crore in 2013, its biggest takeover in two years.

WHAT NEXT

All eyes are on the CBI, which is probing him for his role in swinging the allocation of a coal block in Odisha in favour of Hindalco.

BY THE WAY

He quit from the RBI Central Board last year to avoid conflict of interest for his banking licence application.

No 61

Pawan Munjal, 59

MD and CEO of Hero Motocorp

RANK 13: 67

WHY

His Hero MotoCorp became India's first automobile company to cross cumulative production of 50 million units.

POWER PUNCH

Reportedly invited Tiger Woods for an exhibition match. In 2011, Munjal severed ties with Honda even though he could have continued until 2014. The company has been debt-free for the last decade.

WHAT NEXT

Munjal has embarked on an aggressive journey foray into Africa with assembly lines and spreading operations in Latin America. He has announced a joint venture with Milan-based Magneti Marelli for manufacture of new-generation power-trains.

BY THE WAY

A sports enthusiast, his company sponsors many sports, including Hockey India League.

No 62

Laxmi Niwas Mittal, 63

Chairman, ArcelorMittal

RANK 13: 71

WHY

L N Mittal is among the world's wealthiest and with a fortune of $16 billion, ranks number two in India on the Forbes list.

POWER PUNCH

Mittal earned Barack Obamas praise for investing $70 million in his Cleveland plant and creating jobs. While battling recession in the global steel industry, ArcelorMittal has decided to pull out of Orissa and concentrate on Jharkhand.

WHAT NEXT

ArcelorMittal, along with Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal Corporation, has completed acquisition of ThyssenKrupp AG's steel mill in the US for US $1.55 billion, which shows the company's appetite to spend on mergers despite sustaining a $1.2 billion loss in the last three months of 2013.

BY THE WAY

He does yoga every morning before leaving for work. He also enjoys swimming.

No 63

C Rangarajan, 82

Chairman, PM's Economic Advisory Council

RANK 13: 76

WHY

Rangarajan has been one of the key economic troubleshooters for the UPA over its decade-long tenure. He is often the final word on crucial issues growth, interest rates, sugar decontrol, oil and gas blocks and even rescheduling premium for highway projects.

POWER PUNCH

He is perhaps the only policymaker who pulls up the government as well as the RBI on what he perceives as faulty economic policies and gets away with it.

WHAT NEXT

With UPA-II's tenure coming to an end this May, the PMEAC will be dissolved. However, Rangarajan is expected to remain one of the key voices on economic and policy issues.

BY THE WAY

Taught at Loyola College, Madras, in the 50s.

No 65

Ratan Tata, 76

Chairman emeritus, Tata Group

RANK 13: 16

WHY

He may have moved out of his executive role but Ratan Tata saw his dream for Tata Group to re-enter the aviation business materialise in the form of an alliance with Singapore Airlines in 2013.

POWER PUNCH

Tata came out hard on the government when he said India has lost the confidence of the world and the government has been slow in recognising it.

WHAT NEXT

Running all Tata trusts, his key thrust areas are nutrition and providing potable water to various parts of the country.

BY THE WAY

Retirement hasnt slowed him one bit. His travel schedules continue to be packed.

68

Shobhana Bhartia, 55

Chairperson and editorial

director, Hindustan Times Group

RANK 13: 77

WHY

Leads one of the biggest media houses in the country comprising print, radio as well as digital initiatives; the flagship Hindustan Times leads in Delhi, despite stiff competition.

POWER CRUCNCH

Bhartia organises a power-packed HT Leadership summit every year, managing to bring the who's who of the political, social and entertainment world together.

WHAT NEXT

Taking HT to number one position in the country and expanding the market for other publications like Hindustan and Mint.

BY THE WAY

She speaks fluent Bengali and also reads the language. Every morning, a Bengali newspaper comes to her office for her to read.

80

Arnab Goswami, 45

Editor-in-chief, Times Now

RANK 13: 43

WHY

Has made Times Now the most viewed English news channel in a short time. His aggressive style of anchoring has forced others to follow suit, making him one of the most popularand spoofed prime time anchors.

POWER CRUNCH

Got the first, and till now the only, TV interview of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.

WHAT NEXT

Will Goswami now get an exclusive interview of BJPs PM candidate Narendra Modi

BY THE WAY

He is Indias most famous Assamese by a long distance.

No 73

Naresh Goyal, 63

Chairman, Jet Airways

NEW ON THE LIST

WHY

Much before the government started the process to relax foreign investment norms and allow international carriers to buy stake in their Indian counterparts, Jet Airways started its stake sale negotiations with Etihad. Jet became the first Indian carrier to get foreign investments after the rules were relaxed in September 2012.

POWER PUNCH

The 24 per cent stake sale deal with Etihad valued Jet Airways at Rs 8,000 crore, much higher than its market capitalisation. Jet sold its stake to Etihad for Rs 2,058 crore.

WHAT NEXT

Jet needs to work with Etihad to provide the best global connectivity to Indian consumers.

BY THE WAY

He doesnt know how to drive a car.

No 72

AVEEK SARKAR, 68

Editor-in-Chief, Ananda Bazar patrika Group

RANK 13: 85

WHY

He wields immense clout in the media as well as political, social, cultural circuits at the national level. As head of the ABP Group, Sarkar has been at the forefront of the media industry in India.

POWER PUNCH

He was elected as captain of the Royal Calcutta Golf Club. RCGC is more than a mere golf club, it a well-known power centre.

WHAT NEXT

To build his dream project Kolkata Museum of Modern Art (KMOMA) said to be valued at Rs 800 crore.

BY THE WAY

Sarkar is a regular at the Wimbledon every year.

87

UDAY SHANKAR, 52

Star TV CEO

RANK 13: 78

WHY

He is credited with the turnaround of the Star Group that has managed to sustain the growth trajectory even after the exit of Rupert Murdoch from the groups ownership.

POWER CRUNCH

He infused small town consciousness into the programmes on Stars general entertainment channels with resounding success. It was also under him that Star emerged as a superstar in sports broadcast, especially cricket.

WHAT NEXT

As the media space gets more and more crowded in an election year, the challenge will be to stay ahead in all the segments in which Star has marked its presence in a big way during the last few years.

BY THE WAY

A JNU alumnus, he started as a journalist with CSE.

No 93

Sunil Bharti Mittal, 56

Chairman & Group CEO of Bharti Enterprises

RANK 13: 80

WHY

He is the founder and chairman of Indias largest private telecom player, Bharti Airtel, which had 192.22 million subscribers as of August 31, 2013.

POWER PUNCH

The recent acquisition of Mumbai-based Loop Mobile by Airtel will make it the largest mobile operator in terms of subscriber base in the city.

WHAT NEXT

In a landmark handshake, one-time rivals Mukesh Ambani and Sunil Mittal have agreed to share telecom infrastructure. Bharti has already commenced 4G services in some areas and has bought out Qualcomm stake in a mobile broadband venture.

BY THE WAY

The telecom titan is also a yoga freak.

No 92

Arundhati Bhattacharya, 57

Chairperson, State Bank of India

NEW ON THE LIST

WHY

As head of the largest bank in India with over 15,000 branches and almost 20 per cent of the countrys total deposits, her decisions on interest rates and banking initiatives are keenly watched and followed by other banks.

POWER PUNCH

She is the first woman chairperson of the bank; she was appointed in October 2013, beating three male contenders.

WHAT NEXT

Bhattacharya has to stop the slide in the asset quality and improve the margins. At the same time, she has to boost the credit delivery.

BY THE WAY

She makes it a point to try local food wherever she travels.

No 96

K V Kamath, 66

LEAD INDEPENDENT DIRECTOR, INFOSYS

RANK 13: 68

WHY

India's banking doyen stepped down as chairman from the Infosys board last June calling on Narayana Murthy to bring back the mojo to the company. His step has pushed the market cap of the company by a massive 62 per cent in just 10 months.

POWER PUNCH

There have been questions over the role of Rohan Murthy in Infosys. But Kamaths association with the company has warded off reservations about the family getting inside the board room.

WHAT NEXT

He expressed his admiration earlier this year about AAPs anti-corruption agenda, but has decided to stay away from politics for now.

BY THE WAY

The army of women bankers he nurtured, he says, was inspired by his mother. In a letter to his daughter Ajnya, he says she had clear views on women taking on leadership roles.

No 98

Gautam Adani, 51

Chairman, Adani Group

NEW ON THE LIST

WHY

The net assets of the Adani Group in 2012-13 were over $18 billion. Its consolidated income for the first nine months of the current fiscal increased by 11 per cent to Rs 38,896 crore. The companys total commissioned capacity is 7,920 MW, making it Indias largest private thermal power producer.

POWER PUNCH

Adanis Mundra Port handled 74.73 million metric tonne of cargo during the first nine months of 2013-14. It signed an MoU with the Belgian port of Zeebrugge to act as a strategic entry port for the European market.

WHAT NEXT

The group has diversified its businesses ranging from oilseeds to ports and as on March 31, 2013 it had 73 subsidiaries.

BY THE WAY

He started as a diamond trader.

Also read:

* Most Powerful Indians 2014: Top 10 economists

* Most Powerful Indians 2014: Top Fund Managers