THE RISE AND FALL
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.