Change, as the ancient Greeks said, is the only constant in life. The india today power list continues to bear witness to this truism. Now in its 16th year, our annual High & Mighty ranking has seen one of the biggest shake-ups since its inception. Not just because 16 personalities have exited the list but because three of them—a superstar and two business tycoons—had been list regulars since 2003. Several others have dropped significantly in ranking. Businesses, the ballot box and box-office fortunes can be fickle mistresses indeed.
Some of this turbulence was set off by the arrival of Prime Minister Modi, our political power list topper for six years in a row, who has reset political and business equations. All 10 members of the political power list are from the ruling party. The most powerful officials are from the Modi circle, insiders of the strongest Prime Minister’s Office in decades.
Our 16 new entrants in the power list hail from the world of business, banking, sports and entertainment. A dynamic environment has thrown up new business paradigms and flung many members of the old guard by the wayside. The economy is the driving force of any country. Therefore, it is no surprise that an increasing number of businessmen and women have the ability to think anew and wield the skill to drive businesses today. We have 27 businessmen and women on our list, up from 22 last year. One tycoon registered the largest year-on-year leap, rising 16 places to number 3.
Reflecting the sweeping change taking place in a country with over half a billion internet subscribers and one of the largest and fastest-growing markets for digital consumers, prime movers in the digital space have made their debut on the power list this year. Among our new digital entrepreneurs are the 25-year-old who runs a onemillion room hospitality start-up valued
at roughly $10 billion (Rs 69,000 crore) and the educational entrepreneur who runs the world’s most valuable edu-tech company, valued at over $5 billion (Rs 34,500 crore). Then there’s the executive with a big budget who is rapidly expanding a US streaming giant’s catalogue within the country and the TV soap-maker who’s moved on to conquering the video-on-demand space.
Power and profit can have a potent force-multiplier effect when they are used to benefit society. Hence, we have taken note of corporate philanthropy and our wealthiest givers. Take, for instance, the former business tycoon who has re-entered the list because his trusts are big spenders on infant and maternal healthcare. Or for that matter India’s richest selfmade woman businessperson who is also spurring urban renewal and building an affordable cancer-care model.
Our new entrants are a microcosm of the way India is changing. We have India’s first openly gay sportsperson, a top-class athlete who has become a powerful voice for her community, and the writer who has turned his niche in Indian mythology into national bestsellers. We have three power couples: a dream combo of a selfmade superstar who married the film industry’s top actress and brand magnet; a business tycoon and his wife, who runs the country’s leading private museum of contemporary art; and the richest man in India and his formidable wife. She runs a major philanthropic foundation and no one would turn down an invitation to one of her glittering parties.
Stay tuned as the india today High & Mighty list tracks the vicissitudes of power in a nation on the move.
Our Feb. 3, 2003 cover
Our Apr. 30, 2018 cover