India Today - - CONTENTS - (Aroon Purie)

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

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