While Gandhi, also the chairperson of ruling UPA alliance, has slipped from her previous years sixth rank to 21st this year, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati has made her debut at 59th.
The list also includes Indra Nooyi, the Indian-origin chief of global soft drink major PepsiCo, at third position, up from fifth last year, and Indian biotechnology firm Biocons chief Kiran Mazumdar Shaw at 99th. The list has been topped by German chancellor Angela Merkel.
On Gandhi, the magazine said the Italian-born leader of Indias most powerful political party has by now assumed the role of elder stateswoman. Although she remains firmly at the head of the countrys ruling party, a rising star, known by the single name Mayawati, is challenging Gandhis position as the countrys most powerful woman.
Mayawati-led BSP recently withdrew its outside support to Gandhi-led ruling combine in the country.
The magazine said that Mayawati has aligned herself with the nationalist Hindu BJP party and joined its members in vociferously opposing Gandhis partys historic agreement with the US on nuclear cooperation.
The magazine described Mayawati as the one, in the running to be prime minister, from her perch as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Indias most populous state. In 1995, at 39, she was the youngest politician elected to the post and was also the first Dalit... to head a state government, it said. The report further said that Mayawati commands a large following and goes simply by her first name.
In 2007, she shrewdly built an alliance with Brahmins, and the Bahujan Samaj Party, which she heads, has started to increase its national presence. Some say she could trail-blaze again as Indias first Dalit prime minister.
According to Forbes, its annual ranking of the most powerful women in the world measures power as a composite of public profile and financial heft. The economic component considers job title and past career accomplishments, as well as the amount of money the woman controls.
Merkel is followed by Federal Deposit Insurance Corp chairman Sheila C Bair of the US at the second position.
Others in the top ten include WellPoint CEO Angela Braly, Anglo American CEO Cynthia Carroll, Kraft Foods chief Irene B Rosenfeld, US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, Temasek Holdings CEO Ho Ching, Areva CEO Anne Lauvergeon and Xerox Corp CEO Anne Mulcahy.
Six of the ten most powerful women are from the US, while one each are from the UK, Germany, France and Singapore. Gandhi, Mayawati and Shaw are the only three Indians on list, while Nooyi is the only other person of Indian-origin.
About Nooyi, the third most powerful in the world, the magazine said that she, continues to grow PepsiCo, the $39 billion food and beverage giant, through new product offerings and acquisitions.
Despite her fall from sixth position last year, Gandhi has outranked people like Hillary Clinton (28th), Oprah Winfrey (36th), Melinda Gates (40th), Laura Bush (44th) and Queen Elizabeth II (58th). Besides, at her 59th position, Mayawati is also ranked higher than MTV Networks CEO Judy McGrath (60th), Finland President Tarja Halonen, US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Hyundai Group chairman Hyun Jeong-Eun and Ireland President Mary McAleese.
Gandhi and Mayawati have also outranked Harvard University president Drew Gilpin Faust, The The New York Times Co president and CEO Janet L Robinson and WHO director-general Margaret Chan.