THE RISE AND FALL

India Today - - UPFRONT - Il­lus­tra­tion by NI­LAN­JAN DAS

Whether you see it as a blessing or a curse, there is really no doubt any­more that we live in ex­tremely in­ter­est­ing times. And if you think that’s a cliché, well, we have plenty more for you: the old or­der changeth—and it re­mains la même chose too. Af­ter all, con­tra­dic­tion is our favourite na­tional cliché.

In this 16th edi­tion of the High & Mighty list, we give you a group por­trait of the peo­ple who really count in this coun­try of 1.3 bil­lion today. Com­pare it to last year’s list and what emerges is same­same—but dif­fer­ent. The coun­try, like much of the world, has been in the throes of the slow rolling surge of right-wing pop­ulism that now seems to have en­trenched its own elite. ‘Might makes right’ ran that old cau­tion­ary cliché. It could be rewrit­ten for our times as ‘the Right makes might’. Per­haps the most dra­matic man­i­fes­ta­tion of this is in our list of lead­ing politi­cians who, for the first time, are a mono­chrome set of saf­fron. Our power list of movers and shak­ers is dom­i­nated as usual by busi­ness­men, and marked by the rise of a new gen­er­a­tion of start-up and digital en­trepreneur­s. Here too, there’s no mis­tak­ing the grow­ing im­por­tance of those with prox­im­ity to po­lit­i­cal power.

The saf­fron tide has also left its mark by sweep­ing away an un­prece­dented num­ber of fa­mil­iar faces—re­placed by 16 new en­trants to the High & Mighty list. That said, there’s no short­age of peren­ni­als here. The High & Mighty list re­mains a record of the shift­ing for­tunes of In­dia’s elite—not a rev­o­lu­tion. We’ve used all our col­lec­tive ex­per­tise and the al­go­rithms of ed­i­to­rial dis­cus­sion to com­pile this de­fin­i­tive list. The process is a little like Indian democ­racy: not ev­ery­one likes the re­sults, but ev­ery­one is heard.

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