The road to power passes through Lucknow. And Power List 2022 is paved with it. As dust settles on the fire-and-brimstone election of Uttar Pradesh, the poll of polls has changed the political landscape: Yogi Adityanath towers over the horizon, having entered the top five Sangh Parivar club. He ranks just after Mukesh Ambani.
🗞️ Subscribe Now: Get Express Premium to access the best Election reporting and analysis 🗞️
Yogi Adityanath’s surge, from No. 13 last year to No. 6, is anchored by the one spot that seems to get more entrenched each year at the top: Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
As the PM now for eight years, Modi remains disruptor-in-chief with a regularity that expands his presence and crimps his critics. Be it the vaccination programme after the brutal second wave or, most recently, the airlift of over 22,000 young Indians from Europe, the PM has come to stand as the veritable Prime Mover.
With a pole so dominant, any power list risks being a derivative of sorts. And yet some fortunes stand altered: a better-late-than never Akhilesh Yadav is now among the 50s, up 15-odd ranks; a blink-and-miss Mayawati tumbles almost out of the 100 list; Priyanka Gandhi Vadra gets a consolation rank of 75 for effort; and Rahul Gandhi hangs on, but just, in that neither here-nor there spot of 51.
But if status quo is the best the Gandhis can hope for, Arvind Kejriwal has ensured that it is not to be. With Punjab joining Delhi as a state under Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), he is the brightest star in the tired old Opposition corner, as his ranking of nine reflects.
Mamata Banerjee, who has stood her ground against the BJP through the toughest of challenges, rises from 22 to 11. Chief Justice N V Ramana is there, at 12, for the way he has begun to put his foot down, firmly yet gently. So all eyes are now on Justice D Y Chandrachud, his two-year term from November could shape the character of the apex court. That’s why he makes an entry in the top 20.
The hold of the new powers that be, cemented by the recent Assembly results, is clear in the lack of any other drastic changes at the top. Even two new entrants in the top-50 club are by virtue of the same power dynamic — Jay Shah at 47; Nita Ambani at 48.
If others have nudged their way in, it’s on account of their posts (Hardeep Singh Puri, Anurag Singh Thakur, Ashwini Vaishnaw, Mansukh Mandaviya), or what’s coming next (BJP state chief C R Paatil as Gujarat election looms).
With power concentrated in politics and business, the first person who is neither comes in only at 50 — Olympic gold medallist Neeraj Chopra. A close second is Bimal Patel, the architect shaping the grand projects of New India.
Reeling under Covid-19, Netflix and a government with an eye on everything from star deaths to star cruises, Bollywood has proved to be a purring cat in lion’s clothing. So, it’s no wonder that above Kangana Ranaut’s noise and Akshay Kumar’s ever-changing poise, stands Shah Rukh Khan’s stoic silence. SRK may no longer be King Khan, par naam toh suna hoga.
Prime Minister of India (2021 Rank: 1)
Why
Exactly a year ago, the nation was battling the brutal second Covid-19 wave amid looming economic distress, vaccine management was a mess, the farm protests were deadlocked, the BJP had come a cropper in West Bengal — all this seems like history. With 183 crore Covid vaccine doses administered to Indians, a Budget betting on a capex push, the BJP’s stunning return in four states, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has galvanised his party and government.
Power punch
Modi’s critics thought that Covid and the rollback on farm laws had dented his image but there was almost no political cost. Abstaining on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and yet reaching out to European nations to evacuate 22,000 Indians out of a war zone is seen as a formidable diplomatic success under his leadership.
What next
With the BJP riding on his appeal in every election, the Gujarat polls will be on his agenda in the short-term, but for the long term, he will chart the course for the party and the government ahead of 2024 — and its shot for a third term.
By the way
When he travels overseas, he makes it a point to take pictures with the hotel staff — from kitchen to housekeeping — and give those photographs as mementos.
Union Home Minister  (2021 Rank: 2)
Why
Despite there being a new BJP chief in J P Nadda, Shah continues to exert considerable influence in the party. As the Union Home Minister, he remains the effective No. 2 in the government.
Power Punch
Although both PM Modi and UP CM Yogi Adityanath were the faces of the BJP’s campaign, Shah had to step in to energise the cadre as the party braced for a tough battle in western UP amid the farmer stir. Also, the size and character of Adityanath’s new council of ministers has Shah’s stamp.
What Next
Will Kashmir be granted statehood? When will elections be held there? From Centre-state relations in a polarised polity to articulating the government’s view on key social issues, Shah has his task cut out. With Gujarat elections next, he will be the man to watch out for.
By the way
Shah had a chance encounter with Baba Ramdev at the 1986 Kumbh, where the latter was distributing pamphlets on yoga and Ayurveda
Chief, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (2021 Rank: 3)
Why
Despite talk of the Modi-Shah combine overshadowing the RSS’s hold over the BJP organisation, the RSS continues to have the BJP’s back.
Power punch
Adityanath’s closed-door meeting with Mohan Bhagwat in Gorakhpur, days before he took oath as CM, sent a signal. Also, during the pandemic, Bhagwat made it a point to meet cadres regularly. Their work on the ground blunted some of the discontent in UP against the BJP government’s handling of the pandemic.
What next
In a recent meeting of the RSS’s Akhil Bhartiya Pratinidhi Sabha in Ahmedabad, Bhagwat reportedly said that when the BJP is in power, it creates anukoolta (compatibility) which causes shithilta (laxity) and cautioned cadres against any possible asavdhani (inattention). With more polls coming up, that’s a timely reminder.
By the way
In the years that he was posted in Bihar, he developed a taste for chura-dahi.
President, Bharatiya Janata Party (2021 Rank: 4)
Why
Having lost the elections in West Bengal under his watch, Nadda’s BJP bounced back this year, delivering four out of five state election victories, including a spectacular one in the politically crucial Uttar Pradesh. This would have a significant impact on the party’s march towards 2024 Lok Sabha polls. Also, his initiatives during the pandemic helped the BJP tide over public anger against the government in states ruled by the party over their handling of the pandemic.
Power punch
At the BJP parliamentary party meeting held in the aftermath of the party’s win in four out of five states that went to polls, Nadda got a standing ovation. When party leaders attempted to garland the Prime Minister, he gestured for Nadda to be garlanded first.
What next
He will have to ensure that the success of March carries through to the face-off in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, both states where there’s evidence of anti-incumbency.
By the way
He has a story to tell about every place and building he visits, be it the Rashtrapati Bhavan or a government office. His aides are let in on his past interactions with people on the ground.
Chairman & Managing Director, Reliance Industries Limited (2021 Rank: 5)
Why
The richest Indian with a net worth of over $96 billion (according to Forbes), Mukesh Ambani has concluded multiple deals across telecom, retail and energy segments over the last couple of years. He raised investments worth over Rs 1.5 lakh crore from investors, including Google and Facebook. The group has been expanding its retail business and has made investments of close to Rs 9,000 crore in over a dozen acquisitions and joint ventures in the current fiscal.
Power Punch
In one of the most dramatic finishes to a corporate war, Mukesh Ambani’s RIL terminated the property leases extended to Future Retail, effectively putting an end to Amazon’s campaign of blocking Reliance’s acquisition of Future.
What Next
Ambani is channelling efforts to convert RIL into a big renewable energy player. He has already announced investments of $75 billion in renewable infrastructure including generation plants and solar panels.
By the way
He loves watching leopards on his vacations in Maasai Mara in Kenya.
Chief minister, Uttar Pradesh (2021 Rank: 13)
Why
If the BJP won the last UP election primarily in the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, “Yogi-Modi” was the mascot of the 2022 winning campaign. In an election fought on his governance in the last five years, especially law and order, Adityanath steered the BJP to a second consecutive term in UP. He became the first Chief Minister to return to power in the state after completing a five-year term, making the BJP the first party to retain power in UP since 1985.
Power punch
Despite criticism of his government’s handling of the pandemic and talk of popular discontent on issues of unemployment and price rise, Adityanath retained the trust of his party’s top leadership, and more significantly, of the people. In November, at the height of the campaign, Adityanath put out photos of Modi and him walking in deep conversation, the PM’s arm around his shoulders. It was a picture that spoke out loud.
What Next
His challenge will be to consolidate the BJP’s grip on UP and deliver ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
By the way
He reads books on religious affairs, politics and health.
Chairman, Adani Group (2021 Rank: 10)
Why
Gautam Adani goes from strength to strength, having built the third Indian business conglomerate worth over $100 billion in no time. Perceived to be close to power, the group is now an infrastructure major, with ports, airports, power, city gas distribution and renewable energy in its portfolio.
Power punch
Adani Green Energy Ltd (AGEL) is developing a renewable portfolio of 25 GW by 2025 which includes wind, solar and hybrid power projects. The Adani Group is the largest airport operator, winning rights to modernise and operate seven airports. It has the largest private power company and handles India’s largest commercial port.
What Next
Many of the Adani Group’s projects are aligned to government priorities with green technologies, and set to account for over 75 per cent of the group’s capex till FY2025. Adani Gas will invest Rs 20,000 crore in a city gas distribution infrastructure, a part joint venture with global oil and gas major Total. The group will spend $70 billion on renewable energy to expand its portfolio to 45GW by 2030 and aims to produce the world’s cheapest green hydrogen in India.
By the way
Adani reportedly owns BMW 7 Series Limousine, a Rolls-Royce Ghost and a Ferrari California.
National Security Advisor (2021 Rank: 7)
Why
Known to enjoy Prime Minister Modi’s trust, Doval continues to be the most powerful official in the Government. His long-standing experience in managing national security has come in handy as the Government has had to deal with challenges at home and overseas. Not only has he been key to policymaking on China and Pakistan, he has influence on matters related to policing in the country and Kashmir. He will also be a key influencer on the decision to appoint the next Chief of Defence Staff, as the integration of defence services is a priority for the government.
Power punch
In recent weeks, he has been one of the key decision-makers on the Russia-Ukraine crisis — from evacuation of stranded Indians to assessment of the conflict and India’s diplomatic balancing act.
What next
In the backdrop of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Moscow’s growing proximity to Beijing, the NSA’s job will be complex in terms of consolidating India’s interests. Also, the situation in Kashmir can pose challenges in the coming months.
By the way
He is closely connected with his native village in Uttarakhand’s Pauri, and visits there often.
Chief Minister, Delhi (2021 Rank: 27)
Why
With his party’s victory in the recent Punjab Assembly Election, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief has emerged as a strong voice of opposition against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). AAP also managed to win two Assembly seats in Goa, its first win outside of Delhi and Punjab. The scale of the win in Punjab — AAP won 92 seats out of 117 — was a shot in the arm for the party in an electorally crucial year, where it wants to extend its footprint in two new states.
Power punch
Taking the fight to the BJP, Kejriwal has managed to maintain a delicate balance between going all out against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and keeping the focus on “kaam ki rajneeti” — his policies on education, health, water and power and, now, jobs as well.
What Next
AAP will contest Assembly polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh later this year. He was banking on a win in the Delhi municipal polls but the Centre’s decision to unify the three corporations seems to have delayed those polls for now.
By the way
At the end of a long workday, Kejriwal likes to unwind in a full body massage chair.
Minister of Finance, Corporate Affairs (2021 Rank: 9)
Why
Steering the world’s sixth-largest and fastest-growing economy, Nirmala Sitharaman is sitting in the government’s engine room of reforms. The government’s privatisation policy has been welcomed despite the slow speed of implementation. A record push towards capital expenditure next year is seen as stoking private investment and creating enablers for a sustainable high growth.
Power punch
A key member of the Prime Minister’s core team, she’s been at the forefront of major initiatives, including the Atmanirbhar Bharat stimulus packages. Under her watch, the government could push through the much-awaited privatisation of Air India. Setting up of a bad bank and a record increase of 35.4 per cent in capex for next year — the highest rise in any budget — emboldened hopes of an investment-led demand revival.
What Next
Successful implementation of the record Capex programme outlined in the Budget and pushing forward on the privatisation agenda will be keenly watched.
By the way
She is fond of trekking, travelling and music.
Chief Minister, West Bengal (2021 Rank: 22)
Why
She single-handedly took on the BJP in Bengal to return as the state’s Chief Minister for the third time with a thumping majority. With the Congress shrinking, Mamata realises that the Opposition space is up for grabs. She has been pressing ahead with expanding her party nationally and made a bold attempt to make her party’s presence felt in Goa, though the Trinamool Congress failed to open an account in the just concluded polls.
Power punch
Despite the BJP pulling out all stops and launching a high-voltage campaign in Bengal, she led the Trinamool Congress to one of its biggest political victories in the past three decades. The win was so decisive that the BJP is yet to recover from the blow, losing a string of leaders and elections (civic and rural polls) since then.
What Next
With 42 seats at stake in West Bengal, will Banerjee be the rallying point for the Opposition ahead of the 2024 elections? How she handles the fallout of the political violence in her state will also shape her influence.
By the way
Banerjee is fond of watching Bengali teleserials (repeat telecast) late night after a long day.
Chief Justice of India (2021 Rank: 21)
Why
As the 48th Chief Justice of India, NV Ramana pushed for increased women’s participation in the judiciary. In a break from his predecessors, he has not shied away from questioning the Executive, be it in key cases or in the appointment of presiding officers to tribunals.
Power punch
A bench headed by him turned down the Government’s request to set up its own committee to probe allegations of surveillance using Pegasus spyware and instead set up its own panel. In the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case, too, a bench presided by him asked the UP government to ensure an impartial probe. His tenure has seen the highest number of women judges in the Supreme Court, with the Collegium clearing three names in one go. Without being confrontationist, he has been able to underline the independence of the apex court.
What Next
The Chief Justice of India wants indigenisation of the country’s legal system and a National Judicial Infrastructure Corporation to improve the conditions of courts.
By the way
Loves farming, is a connoisseur of literature, particularly Telugu.
Minister of Defence (2021 Rank: 6)
Why
He is one of the seniormost Cabinet ministers in the government, who is considered more approachable by members from across the aisle in Parliament. His is an important voice in the Cabinet; not many have the heft that he commands. Compared to the aggressive posture taken by most on the treasury benches against the Opposition, Singh maintains the cordial demeanour of veteran politicians. Though he never crosses the party line, every time he speaks, he gives insight into the government’s thinking.
Power punch
His push towards increasing the country’s defence manufacturing capacity and encouraging the armed forces towards self-reliance is absolutely essential for PM Modi’s Atmanirbhar Bharat campaign.
What Next
The ongoing crisis in Ukraine will have a long-term impact on the spares, maintenance and some high-ticket weapons that India relies on Russia for. Indian forces need to modernise to deter China from any misadventures. Politically, his role in the upcoming President and Vice-President elections is being keenly watched.
By the way
As a student leader, he used to move around on a Rajdoot bike.
National General Secretary (Organisation), BJP (2021 Rank: 16)
Why
Ever since he became BJP National General Secretary (Organisation) in July 2019, his stock in the party has only been rising. Counted among the top leaders, he played a key role in the change of guard in Gujarat and Karnataka and was a permanent presence in all discussions held by the PM for assessing the performance of ministers before the reshuffle last July. He has been integral to all party strategy for state elections. Although accused of meddling too much with BJP politics in the southern states, Santhosh still managed to hold his control over party functioning in Karnataka, Kerala and Goa. After the Goa elections, he managed to get Pramod Sawant, considered to be his pick for the top post, to continue despite internal differences.
Power punch
Not only did he manage to replace BS Yediyurappa, his arch rival in the party, with Basavaraj Bommai as Karnataka chief minister, his imprint was visible in the Cabinet reshuffle.
What Next
While some say that he could head to the RSS top position, for now, the organisation and upcoming elections would be his focus.
By the way
He has been a voracious reader from his engineering days.
Minister of External Affairs (2021 Rank: 12)
Why
In this pandemic year and amid a fast-shifting geopolitical scenario, Jaishankar has led the External Affairs Ministry with a steady and firm hand through a series of challenges: changes in Washington, DC; border standoff with China; vaccine diplomacy; the Russian war against Ukraine, or the evacuation of Indians from the war zone. Balancing the imperatives of power and national interest, Jaishankar’s diplomacy comes with significant political heft. Challenges remain in each of his key foreign policy areas and the consummate diplomat in him will be tested in uncharted waters.
Power punch
Every Quad country leader — be it the US, Australia or Japan — has praised him to the Prime Minister, whenever they have met or spoken.
What Next
He has a challenging task in unlocking the India-China relationship before the 14th BRICS summit is held in China later this year. The flux in geo-politics posed by the Russia-Ukraine war and the Russia-China axis is going to test the international order and make Team Jaishankar work overtime.
By the way
He is a fitness enthusiast, and likes to play squash.
16. Uddhav Thackeray, 61

Chief Minister, Maharashtra (2021 Rank: 14)
Why
Bearer of Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray’s legacy, Uddhav Thackeray has finally managed to break away from his father’s imposing shadow. He completed two years as Chief Minister while keeping the triumvirate alliance of the Shiv Sena, Congress and the NCP together despite their diverse ideologies.
Power punch
Heading a state with the highest Covid-19 tally, Thackeray, who had little administrative experience, has drawn praise for his handling of the pandemic and his regular, forthright communication with the state. Fending off a sustained BJP campaign, he refused to be cowed down by the mess over the Mukesh Ambani house bomb scare-Sachin Waze-Param Bir Singh episode. Of all the three Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) allies, Thackeray’s Shiv Sena has been the most aggressive against the BJP. His hostility against the BJP stems from the personal targeting of the Thackeray clan.
What Next
He is working to retain the BMC, the richest municipal corporation in the country, which goes to polls this year.
By the way
He still vets a dummy of the next day’s edition of Saamna.
17. Sharad Pawar, 81
President, Nationalist Congress Party (2021 Rank: 18)
Why
Sharad Pawar has been the pivot around which the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi alliance (MVA) in Maharashtra revolves. He is the only Opposition leader with the ability to act and be the bridge between different anti-BJP parties.
Power punch
Pawar is the tallest man standing against the BJP in the state. Has the ability to tap into ties built over years to put up a challenge for the BJP. Pawar is seen as the driving force behind the MVA government, with Uddhav Thackeray holding deliberations with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief to strategise on the MVA’s future course of action.
What Next
In the winter of his career, Pawar’s stratagem will be important to ensure that MVA completes five years in office. With two NCP leaders Anil Deshmukh and Nawab Malik behind bars and several others facing charges of corruption, Pawar will have an uphill task of strategising and restoring the credibility of his party and the MVA government ahead of the municipal elections across the state over the next few months.
By the way
Pawar worked as a cub reporter for a small period of time in a publication, which was later bought over by his family.
18. Dharmendra Pradhan, 52

Minister of Education, Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (2021 Rank: 95)
Why
After handling the Petroleum and Natural Gas ministry for seven years, Pradhan was given charge of education during the last Cabinet reshuffle in July 2021. He was in-charge of the BJP’s assembly poll campaign in Uttar Pradesh, in which the party returned to power in March.
Power punch
After the successful implementation of Ujjwala scheme that had a distinct electoral appeal in the poll battles that the BJP had in the recent years under him, Pradhan has been given the Education Ministry, which faced tough challenges during the pandemic. Politically, the BJP leadership’s decision to send Pradhan as in charge of crucial Uttar Pradesh had surprised many. .
What Next
Pradhan now has the task of overseeing the rollout of the National Education Policy 2020. In the party, especially after the spectacular return of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh — which is expected to have a deep impact on the next Lok Sabha election — Pradhan is now seen as the frontrunner to succeed JP Nadda as the party president.
By the way
He doesn’t follow a strict diet but keeps off chocolate.
19. D Y Chandrachud, 62

Judge, Supreme Court of India (New)
Why
In line to be Chief Justice of India (CJI) in November this year, Justice DY Chandrachud is a key figure in India’s judicial landscape. His verdicts, including those on powerful dissents, expansion of fundamental rights and freedoms, have been keenly watched. His tenure as CJI will be the longest since September 2012 when Justice SH Kapadia demitted office after nearly 28 months.
Power punch
A crucial intervention by Justice Chandrachud’s bench resulted in a rollback of the government’s policy on vaccine pricing. With the Covid-19 pandemic hampering physical work of courts, he, as head of the Supreme Court’s e-Committee, led an aggressive technological push to facilitate adjudication through IT-enabled services.
What Next
As CJI with a long term and known for speaking his mind, his tenure will be closely watched for institutional reforms and how successful he is in securing the independence of the court.
By the way
He’s a Bob Dylan and Chris Martin fan, and used to be an occasional RJ during his St. Stephen’s days.
20. Bhupender Yadav, 52

Minister of Environment, Forests & Climate Change, Labour (New)
Why
Known for his organisational skills in the BJP, Yadav has rapidly built political capital as a Union minister. He has left his stamp as a proactive implementer of the government’s targets, be it banning single-use plastic or as Labour Minister, creating the e-shram portal, a centralised database of unorganised workers seeded with Aadhaar. Yadav is known for putting in long hours at work, reaching office at 9 am and not leaving before 8 pm.
Power punch
Yadav argued for India and other developing nations at COP26, insisting that developed countries must transfer climate finance to the developing world. His phrasing, ‘phasing-down’ of coal instead of the developed nations’ demand for ‘phasing out’ has been a key tool in the global fight against climate emergency.
What Next
He wants to increase India’s forest cover, aligning afforestation efforts with wildlife conservation, thereby ensuring India’s compliance with the Paris Agreement. He wants to rejuvenate major Indian rivers and control air pollution in cities.
By the way
He hums Kishore Kumar songs to de-stress himself.
21. Shaktikanta Das, 65

Governor, Reserve Bank of India (2021 Rank: 29)
Why
Shaktikanta Das has been leading India’s central bank in effectively tackling the challenges posed by the Covid pandemic, the economic slowdown and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict — the RBI injected ample liquidity into the system and pushed for higher growth in the economy.
Power punch
After announcing several measures to maintain stability on the financial front, the RBI, led by Das, has stayed the course on the accommodative stance to boost growth. It has retained policy rates, unchanged for 10 times in a row, ignoring the tightening of monetary policies by global central banks.
What Next
Das will have to tackle retail inflation, which is above the upper tolerance band of six per cent, and continue the thrust on the growth. He will have to exit from the accommodative policy without disturbing the financial system while retaining enough liquidity. He will have to maintain stability in the financial sector and rein in bad loans in the system.
By the way
He likes to watch old Hindi movies and listen to old songs. He prefers home-cooked food.
22. N Chandrasekaran, 58

Chairman, Tata Sons (New)
Why
Chandrasekaran has been busy transforming traditional businesses and taking fresh strides, too. When he took over in 2017, Tata Motors and Tata Steel were the biggest challenges for him. Today, Tata Steel generates profits and has significantly pared down its debt. Tata Motors has emerged as a key player and is currently way ahead of competition on electric vehicle (EV) sales.
Power punch
In February, Chandrasekaran was reappointed as the executive chairman of Tata Sons for another five years. He sealed the deal with the government to get Air India back into the Tata Group fold, and has been recently appointed the Chairman of Air India.
What Next
Chandrasekaran has set his eyes on new economy businesses. It includes Tata Digital — developing the super app TataNeu, and Tata Electronics for semi-conductor manufacturing. Another focus area is medical and diagnostics business.
By the way
A fitness enthusiast and passionate about photography, he has a formidable memory and is known to remember people by their names.
23. M K Stalin, 69

President, DMK & Chief Minister, Tamil Nadu (2021 Rank: 28)
Why
After his party’s resounding victories in the 2019 Lok Sabha and last year’s Assembly polls, Stalin has emerged as the most popular leader of Tamil Nadu. A man of patience who never revolted against his father for power, he has now come into his own.
Power punch
Stalin managed to take his party to power after 10 years in the Opposition. Not only did he ensure two consecutive victories in general elections, he also managed impressive wins in the rural and urban local body polls.
What Next
He has retained the strong DMK alliance consisting of Congress, Left, Dalit, and minority parties for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. If retaining power in the state is the key aim of DMK, keeping his party men under control and remaining clean of corruption charges would be crucial for Stalin for his next Assembly poll battle.
By the way
His photos on the East Coast Road of Chennai with a group of cyclists went viral. A rationalist, Stalin is increasingly comfortable with photo-ops at places of worship and with members of his family, son Udhayanidhi Stalin and powerful son-in-law Sabareesan.
24. Pinarayi Vijayan, 76

Chief Minister, Kerala (2021 Rank: 24)
Why
Pinarayi Vijayan heads the only Communist government in India since 2016. In the 2021 assembly elections, he weathered a slew of political storms, retained power as the captain of Kerala in its hour of crisis and calamities. He became the only chief minister in the history of Kerala to get a second consecutive term in office.
Power punch
Unquestioned in the party and in the government, Vijayan has emerged as the final word on the CPI (M) at the national level.
What next
The task for Vijayan is both political and administrative. On the political front, the future of the Left in Kerala largely depends upon him and the performance of his government. As an administrator, Vijayan has an uphill task to chart a new trajectory for Kerala’s development. He has to clear the way for several mega projects, which are facing stiff opposition. As protests over the proposed semi-high speed rail corridor continue in Kerala, he has reiterated that his government is committed to making “Nava Kerala” a reality.
By the way
He loves to read Malayalam fiction. A family man, his stress buster is spending time with his grandchild, whom he fondly calls Ghegu.
25. Mansukh Mandaviya, 49

Minister of Health and Family Welfare (New)
Why
The handling of the Covid-19 pandemic came under immense criticism during the ferocious second wave. Then came the massive Cabinet reshuffle. The Prime Minister’s surprise pick during the crisis time was the junior minister for Chemical and Fertilisers, Mansukh Mandaviya.
Power Punch
He is known to be a tough taskmaster. Even before he took charge of the Health Ministry, he met the top vaccine manufacturers for a roadmap to augment vaccine capacity in the country. He discussed the bottlenecks and based on these backdoor consultations, within months, India’s vaccine production capacity was increased exponentially.
What Next
As India enters the third year in its fight against the global pandemic, his team has been entrusted to strengthen health systems at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels. He will work closely with various states on implementing the ambitious Pradhan Mantri – Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission with an outlay of over Rs 64,000 crore.
By the way
A qualified veterinary doctor, he received his doctorate in political science this year.
26. Nitin Gadkari, 64

Minister of Road Transport and Highways (2021 Rank: 8)
Why
One of the most popular and best-performing ministers of the Modi Government, he enjoys personal goodwill on both sides of the political aisle. He publicly attacks bureaucratic inertia and corruption while being candid about shortcomings in his own Ministry. He is also the longest serving Road Transport and Highways Minister, retaining the portfolio since 2014. Being close to the RSS, Gadkari continues to be a significant power centre.
Power punch
Gadkari’s ministry continues to enjoy pride of place in the Government’s scheme of things. The Union Budget set a target of 25,000 km of highways for the next year, despite tepid progress in highway construction in 2021-22 with a lavish allocation. Gadkari’s ministry is also a key component of the PM Gati Shakti masterplan on infrastructure.
What Next
With the Government setting steep targets on construction of roads, Gadkari has to deliver key projects by 2024.
By the way
A foodie, he picked up cooking by watching YouTube videos.
27. Sonia Gandhi, 75

Congress President (2021 Rank: 34)
Why
The power of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty is showing diminishing returns, primarily because of the repudiation of the Congress by voters in successive elections since 2014. But Sonia Gandhi still remains the supreme and unchallenged leader of the Congress, the only party besides the BJP with a pan-Indian, although shrinking, footprint.
Power punch
That the reticent Gandhi still commands loyalty of the Congress leadership and rank and file became clear when her suggestion that the family was ready to step aside was turned down unanimously at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) high table following the party’s rout in March elections.
What Next
Whether Sonia Gandhi will retire or remain the glue that holds the Congress together will depend on how the party navigates the leadership quagmire later this year. That could very well define her legacy.
By the way
She did a course in art restoration with Rupika Chawla, art restorer and author, at Delhi’s National Museum.
28. Uday Kotak, 63

MD & CEO, Kotak Mahindra Bank (2021 Rank: 44)
Why
Uday Kotak is the third-richest banker in the world with a net worth of $16 billion, according to the Hurun Rich List 2022. He headed a panel that drafted corporate governance norms for Indian industry and heads the team that is salvaging IL&FS, which imploded in a Rs 1 lakh-crore scam.
Power punch
Kotak borrowed money from friends and family (and Anand Mahindra too!) to start a bill-discounting business in the 1980s. That entity is now a large financial conglomerate spanning asset management, life insurance and investment banking with a presence in several countries. It manages/advises assets worth nearly Rs 3.9 lakh crore. At Kotak Mahindra Bank, the attrition ratio of women is much lower than men. Women constitute 26 per cent of the work force
currently.
What Next
Banking in India is undergoing a lot of change. Kotak himself said that banks need to wake up and protect their turf from consumer fintech companies. The resolution of IL&FS is another thing that will occupy his attention.
By the way
He enjoys cricket and playing the sitar.
29. Piyush Goyal, 57

Minister of Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Textiles and Leader of RS (2021 Rank: 17)
Why
Goyal is heading India’s push to seal Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with key trading partners. Having led modernisation efforts as Railways Minister and a drive for rural electrification as Power Minister, he is considered the ‘big push’ man who is foregrounding the Government’s efforts to improve access to key foreign markets. Known to have a strong working relationship with Amit Shah, Goyal’s work will be key to the economic revival post-pandemic.
Power punch
Goyal is a key proponent of stronger regulation for e-commerce giants Amazon and Walmart. He says they are using their financial muscle to become dominant and going against the spirit of FDI rules. He is advocating the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme to make India a global manufacturing hub. Encouraging mobile majors to push “Make In India” with over $5 billion exports in sight.
What Next
Goyal is all set to conclude a series of high profile FTA negotiations, including those with Australia, the UK, Canada and the European Union.
By the way
Goyal loves memes, coining the term pakka badam for unicorns and start-ups, referencing the popular song kacha badam.
30. MM Naravane, 61

Chief of Army Staff
Why
He not only heads one of the largest armies in the world, but MM Naravane is the senior-most serving soldier in the country at the moment. Under him, the Army’s manoeuvres on Kailash Ranges in Chushul sub-sector in eastern Ladakh had put pressure on China to agree on a pullback from some of the most tense friction points.
Power punch
Under his leadership, as the Army has shifted its main focus from Pakistan to China, there has been a massive push to build infrastructure along the entire 3,488-km border. The Army is scaling up its intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities towards China, and his role has been key. He’s keeping the force on alert mode while pushing for new weaponry and modern equipment.
What Next
As chairman of the Chief of Staff Committee, Naravane is a natural choice for the second Chief of Defence Staff. But the Government is yet to announce its decision.
By the way
General Naravane is an avid topiarist. In his down time, he tends to his garden, manicuring and shaping his plants. He has a small collection of Bonsai.
31. Dattatreya Hosabale, 66

General Secretary, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (2021 Rank: 38)
Why
RSS (sarkaryawah) executive head Hosabale has influence on key policy issues in the BJP government, more than anyone in the Sangh Parivar. Headquartered in Lucknow, he has influence in the UP BJP and the Yogi Adityanath government, making his role crucial in the Lok Sabha polls of 2024 . Elected to the post last year, his tenure will end in 2024. There are all possibilities that he will continue in the post and be there at the most crucial time — the centenary year (2025) of the saffron organisation.
Power punch
He has close contacts with students and has friends in the bureaucracy. In the recent Assembly elections, RSS workers teamed up with BJP to bring voters to polling booths. Almost half of his pracharak life was with the ABVP, and BJP’s general secretary (organisation) BL Santhosh is also from Hosabale’s home state Karnataka.
What Next
With Article 370 and Ram Temple issues taken care of, RSS is expected to put its weight behind a law on population control. His role will be key. Programmes for RSS centenary celebrations are being chalked out.
By the way
He is well-versed in Kannada, Hindi, Sanskrit, English and Tamil.
32. Himanta Biswa Sarma, 53

Chief Minister, Assam (2021 Rank: 60)
Why
The BJP’s most powerful chief minister in the Northeast, he is seen as the dean of the political circuit there. Known for his controversial remarks, he brings to the table a clout that transcends the party’s core vote base. He’s a leader who can deliver the goods and has the trust of the Modi-Shah duo to push their ideas of governance. He has a pulse of the region and has become the BJP’s troubleshooter, managing its post-CAA turbulence in Assam and the political crisis in Manipur.
Power punch
Despite the bloody and violent clashes in a border dispute between Assam and Mizoram’s forces, Sarma managed to keep his influence intact. He is now trying to resolve disputes at border points between Assam and Meghalaya.
What Next
Sarma will be key in the elections to three Northeastern states early next year — Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland. He is the go-to person for what the top party leadership wants, and it’s these skills that will be tapped into in the coming months.
By the way
His daily average of WhatsApp messages tally around 1,000; he makes it a point to reply to all.
33. Naveen Patnaik, 75

Chief Minister, Odisha (2021 Rank: 45)
Why
Not only is he the longest-serving chief minister, but with the recent rural polls, where the BJD made a record sweep, Naveen Patnaik is now the undisputed leader of the masses. In a sharply divided polity, he often marks the middle ground.
Power punch
A record 766 zilla parishad seats out of the total 853 in the Odisha rural elections haven’t come easy. Patnaik visited every district, in person or virtually, to distribute smart health cards besides announcing other district-specific developmental projects. The flagship Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana (BSKY) is a hit.The BJD also secured 52.73 per cent votes, the highest vote share it has had in any election in the state. Taking the metaphorical victory lap with the national hockey team after the Tokyo Olympics, Patnaik announced that Odisha will continue to sponsor the Indian hockey teams for another 10 years. It is the first time that a state government has done so.
What Next
The 2024 general and Assembly elections are to watch out for, especially after the BJD’s recent win at the
rural polls.
By the way
The health-conscious CM starts his day with a glass of papaya juice.
34. Ashok Gehlot, 70

Chief Minister, Rajasthan (2021 Rank: 31)
Why
As chief minister of one of the last remaining Congress-ruled states, Gehlot has soldiered on despite attempts by party rebels and the BJP to diminish his stature as the tallest leader in the state. He has managed to outwit his opponents on most occasions, often taking the middle ground when it comes to intra-party feuds.
Power punch
He presented a populist budget with a job-guarantee scheme for urban areas, free electricity for various slots of domestic users and the old pension scheme for government employees. This strategy helped him check the BJP’s aggressive campaign against his government.
What Next
All eyes are on the Assembly elections later next year. With Sachin Pilot waiting in the wings and Vasundhara Raje reconciling with the BJP’s central leadership, Gehlot faces a steep road ahead.
By the way
He has a habit of re-reading Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography, The Story of My Experiments with Truth. Back in September 2019, he had appealed to the youth to read the book, saying, “I can assure you, this book will transform your behaviour, personality, actions and your outlook towards life.”
35. Bhupesh Baghel, 60

Chief Minister, Chhattisgarh (2021 Rank: 26)
Why
One of the only two Congress chief ministers, Bhupesh Baghel has managed to establish a Chhattisgarh Model of governance with a special focus on rural industries. Baghel identifies himself as a son of farmer and has risen as an OBC leader.
Power punch
The Congress is increasingly relying on Baghel to bolster the party in other states. He managed elections in Assam and recently in Uttar Pradesh, where he initiated a door-to-door campaign to step up the party’s interface with the masses. Despite the party losing, he was appreciated publicly by Congress supremos. His schemes to embolden the rural population through Nyay schemes too have garnered appreciation.
What Next
The Baghel government completed three of its five years in December. With the countdown to their report card nearing, Baghel and his team will have to ensure conversion of the goodwill for the government into votes, while dealing with an Opposition government at the Centre.
By the way
Baghel is very fond of Chhattisgarhi dishes and usually prefers a simple home-made lunch.
36. Manish Sisodia, 50

Deputy Chief Minister, Delhi (New)
Why
As Aam Aadmi Party’s electoral focus goes national, it is Deputy Chief Minister’s model and work on improving schools in Delhi that will form the basis of each manifesto. Kejriwal’s closest confidant since his activist days, Sisodia is also his biggest sounding board on matters of governance as well as politics. Kejriwal also looks to him for a broader vision on what a modern city should look like — be it revamping major markets in the city or getting sewer systems and water pipelines in unauthorised colonies.
Power punch
Sisodia holds the biggest portfolio in the AAP government in Delhi, with key departments such as education, finance, revenue, vigilance and the PWD. With the Delhi government’s focus shifting to infrastructure over the next year, Sisodia was brought in to ensure timely implementation of the ambitious road redesign project, which aims to make Delhi roads among the best in the world.
What Next
With elections due in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, Sisodia will be a key campaigner as well as strategist, while he holds fort in Delhi.
By the way
Sisodia is fond of sweets, specially from western Uttar Pradesh.
37. Tushar Mehta, 55

Solicitor General (2021 Rank: 58)
Why
As the second seniormost law officer, Tushar Mehta is in charge of defending the government in court. From Covid-19 management to tough cases on national security, Mehta has been at the forefront of all legal battles and is a trusted resource of the Modi government. A relatively new entrant in Modi’s legal team, in 2014 as Additional Solicitor General, the current lot is of Mehta’s picks and he manages the crucial team for the government.
Power punch
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Mehta ensured that critical orders passed by High Courts were challenged and argued against before the Supreme Court. On the migrant crisis, Mehta’s aggressive stance in court that there was no migrant walking on the road, saved the day for the government. He was also the Centre’s troubleshooter in West Bengal for the post-poll political drama that played out in court.
What Next
The race for the Attorney General’s office is due again in June with KK Venugopal set to hang up his boots. Mehta is the front runner in the race.
By the way
He loves his fountain pens, especially those with double-broad nibs and even gets special inks made to match his pens.
38. K Chandrashekar Rao, 68

Chief Minister, Telangana (2021 Rank: 61)
Why
Powerful and popular even in his second term as chief minister, K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) did not hesitate to lock horns when the state’s interests were at stake, and took on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over procurement of paddy and other issues; one of the few CMs to do so.
Power punch
The TRS party, which he founded, has morphed into a strong regional party, with the success of several welfare schemes, including Rythu Bandhu, for agriculture investment support. Currently, no other leader in Telangana can match his political weight.
What Next
The task is cut out for KCR to take on the rising presence of the BJP in the state. He is also considering an alliance with regional parties to take on the BJP at the national level. Also, to make his presence felt at the national level, KCR is calling for debates on paddy procurement, IAS service rules amendments and the Centre’s proposal on clean energy.
By the way
At his farmhouse, he likes to spend time farming. He’s been advocating alternative crops instead of paddy and has urged his party members, too, to grow different crops in their fields.
39. Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, 49

Chief Minister, Andhra Pradesh (2021 Rank: 32)
Why
He continues to be the most popular political leader and has led the state through Covid, making it possible for the poor to get free treatment at private hospitals, upgraded health infrastructure, set up oxygen plants at all government centres and gave subsidies to all private facilities to install their own oxygen plants. His government schemes, including direct cash transfers, have helped all sections of the masses.
Power punch
With 150 MLAs, he is one of the most powerful chief ministers, even as his party has captured all the seats in the urban and rural local bodies, decimating the major opposition in TDP chief, Chandrababu Naidu.
What Next
He is focussed on bringing reforms in the education sector, including introducing English as a medium of instruction in government schools. Although he is facing problems in implementing it, he is determined as he believes that English would provide an advantage to government school students.
By the way
Jagan has given up colourful dressing and has taken to cream or white shirts with matching trousers.
40. Shivraj Singh Chouhan, 63

Chief Minister, Madhya Pradesh (2021 Rank: 42)
Why
Chouhan is BJP’s longest-serving chief minister in office after having completed 15 years and 17 days in office. After the 2018 debacle, the BJP, under his leadership, has made a spectacular return to power, having increased its seat share from 109 seats it won in the 2018 Assembly election to 127 seats in the House of 230. Chouhan has struck a balance between the ideological expectation of the Sangh along with the needs of governance.
Power punch
Chouhan, who returned as CM for a fourth term with support from defected MLAs led by Jyotiraditya Scindia, has kept his flock together despite infighting. He has turned around the agrarian sector and launched novel schemes for women. A leader with mass appeal, he still works on the ground, an effort that has helped him win bypolls.
What Next
The Assembly elections of 2023 will prove to be a test of Chouhan’s popularity and decide his role in the BJP’s central leadership, even as a fifth term as CM looks unlikely.
By the way
An early riser, Chouhan always writes his own speeches in the morning for all political programmes scheduled for the day.
41. Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, 54

Minister of Jal Shakti (2021 Rank: 43)
Why
Tasked with implementing the Centre’s ambitious programmes — Jal Jeevan Mission and Namami Gange — Shekhawat’s stature has witnessed a steady rise during the NDA’s second term. Even as several big leaders with key portfolios were dropped last year when Prime Minister Narendra Modi effected an overhaul of the Council of Ministers, Shekhawat was among the few who remained untouched.
Power punch
After working as party observer in the 2021 West Bengal Assembly election, Shekhawat went on to become the BJP’s in-charge for the recent Punjab polls. He also played a key role in bringing Madhya Pradesh and UP together for the Ken-Betwa Project, India’s first river-linking project.
What Next
He is responsible for ensuring tap water connections to all rural households by 2024. Making interlinking of rivers a reality would be another challenge. Of course, the Assembly election in his home state, Rajasthan, next year will make it clear if he remains in Lutyens’ Delhi or moves to Pink City.
By the way
He loves to buy fruits and vegetables for the family, and makes it a point to do it at least once every week.
42. Hardeep Singh Puri, 70

Minister of Housing & Urban Affairs, Petroleum & Natural Gas (New)
Why
Puri is overseeing the execution of the Modi government’s flagship schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana- Urban, Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana and the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
Power punch
The diplomat turned politician is also in charge of the ambitious Central Vista Redevelopment Project, which is aimed at reshaping India’s seat of power at the Raisina Hill. Within two years of joining Modi’s council of ministers, he was promoted to the Cabinet rank during the July 2021 Cabinet reshuffle. Last month, he was among the four Union ministers handpicked by the Prime Minister as his special envoys to Ukraine’s bordering nations to oversee the evacuation of stranded Indians, mostly students.
What Next
While reshaping the Central Vista, Puri is focussing on completing the ambitious New Parliament Building ahead of the Parliament’s Winter Session this year. He is also monitoring the construction of the Vice- President’s Enclave and Prime Minister’s new residence.
By the way
A fan of classic rock, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, he likes playing them on loop.
43. Manohar Lal, 67

Chief Minister, Haryana (2021 Rank: 48)
Why
He survived the farmers’ agitation in a state where it was the most intense and long-drawn. Besides, he managed to keep the coalition government with the Dushyant Chautala-led Jannayak Janta Party intact although the latter has farmers as its votebank. The second-time chief minister is single-minded about his politics, pivoting it on public welfare schemes like Antyodaya. He worked as a full-time RSS pracharak for 14 years before moving to BJP in 1994.
Power punch
He earned the trust of the BJP leadership despite facing unprecedented farmers’ protests in his own constituency and sailed through a trust vote moved by the Opposition in March last year, winning 55-32 seats. He dedicated the 2022-23 state budget to women, announcing Rs 5 lakh for achievers and increased women’s participation in Panchayati Raj Institutions to 50 per cent.
What Next
With the Assembly polls in 2024, Lal is focussing on people-friendly governance and reaching out to the poorest of the poor to counter anti-incumbency, a surging AAP and farmers’ ire.
By the way
He doesn’t like pdf files, rather prefers Excel sheets.
44. Smriti Irani, 45

Minister of Women and Child Development (2021 Rank: 64)
Why
Playing multiple roles comes easy to Smriti Irani. Having held back the Gandhis and holding her own in Amethi still, she has proved that she is as good a grassroots leader as she is an articulate spokesperson of the Modi regime. She has risen through the ranks in the BJP, defending the party and the government stridently at public fora.
Power punch
She has pushed the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2021, raising the minimum age of marriage to 21, pitching it not only for gender-neutrality, but also uniformity across religious lines. She is the public face of the BJP’s women push.
What Next
Irani is expected to pilot the much-awaited and exhaustive anti-trafficking Bill in Parliament soon.
By the way
She is now an author with her debut novel, Laal Salaam. Despite her hectic schedule, Irani is constantly upgrading her skills. In February this year, the minister completed a business analytics course with the University of Cambridge. Last year, she completed an executive education programme from UC Berkeley.
45. Anurag Singh Thakur, 47

Minister of I&B, Sports and Youth Affairs (New)
Why
Among the BJP’s most promising young leaders, Thakur was promoted in last year’s Cabinet shake-up. From being a MoS in the weighty Finance Ministry, Thakur was given Cabinet rank and two ministries — Information & Broadcasting, and Sports and Youth Affairs.
Power punch
He replaced party veteran Prakash Javadekar as I&B Minister. The ministry, which handles all issues related to the media, including online content, is important for the government. The ministry has regulation powers over news and non-news content across platforms and certain issues related to journalists.
What Next
In the last two years, the I&B Ministry has strengthened its powers to regulate content across platforms, so his role in the ministry is significant. With the BJP facing anti-incumbency in Himachal Pradesh under the current state leadership, Thakur could be the choice to lead the party in the forthcoming elections, especially after he successfully handled the party’s digital campaign in Uttar Pradesh in the just concluded election.
By the way
While he loves cricket, he also likes to play football and show off his dribbling skills.
46. Sanjay Kumar Mishra, 61

Director, Enforcement Directorate (2021 Rank: 40)
Why
An IRS officer with a long career in the Income Tax Department, Sanjay Mishra has transformed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) into the country’s most-dreaded Central agency. He has gone after the most high-profile politicians from the Opposition — from P Chidambaram and DK Shivakumar to TMC’s Abhishek Banerjee. Under him, the agency has also begun to recover bank loans from fugitives. Lately, it has restored assets to the tune of over Rs 15,000 crore to PSU banks from Vijay Mallya, Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi.
Power punch
The government recently pushed through Parliament amendments to the CVC Act and the DSPE Act to give ED and CBI directors a possible tenure of five years. Many say it was done purely to give Mishra an extension.
What Next
The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, which grants ED most of its punitive powers, stands challenged by multiple petitioners in the Supreme Court with top lawyers representing them. The outcome of the case will determine how much teeth the ED retains.
By the way
Mishra was earlier an immunology researcher with the Central Drug Research Institute in Lucknow.
47. Jay Shah, 33

BCCI Secretary (2021 Rank: 59)
Why
From the time Jay Shah took over as the BCCI secretary in 2019, Indian cricket’s power centre shifted to the world’s largest cricket stadium at Motera, Gujarat. The 33-year-old engineering graduate is India’s representative at ICC and is the youngest president of the Asian Cricket Council. He took the popular pandemic-time decisions of conducting the IPL and domestic cricket in addition to providing compensation to cricketers during lockdown. By touring South Africa, despite the worldwide negative perception about the country during the Omicron surge, BCCI, with Shah in the driving seat, won a friend for life.
Power punch
Being the Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s son, Jay has the advantage to be the BCCI’s go-to man on all issues that require the Government’s consultation.
What Next
Hosting the 2023 World Cup successfully in India should be high on the agenda. Also, it would be interesting to see his role in picking the next ICC chief in July.
By the way
His favourite food is quinoa salad. His favourite book is Arthashastra by Chanakya.
48. Nita Ambani, 58

Member, International Olympic Committee (New)
Why
Since making her first foray into Indian sport 14 years ago, when Reliance bought the Mumbai franchise of the IPL, she has been involved in Indian football, basketball, e-sports and Olympic disciplines. Her influence on Indian sport was reinforced earlier this year when she led India’s successful bid to host the International Olympic Committee Session in 2023, which will be hosted at the Reliance-owned Jio World Centre in Mumbai. Considered to be one of the biggest sports summits, the session will see key decisions being taken, including the host of future Olympics and the sporting programme for the 2028 Games. India hopes to showcase its ability to host international events.
Power punch
Leading India’s successful bid to host the 2023 IOC Session, the sporting equivalent of the Davos summit.
What Next
Foray into sports broadcasting through Viacom, which is backed by Reliance.
By the way
In her speech at the Sports Business Summit in 2019, Ambani said her son’s enthusiasm for the English Premier League raised her interest in football, especially in launching the Indian Super League.
49. Ashwini Vaishnaw, 51

Minister of Railways, Communications and Electronics, IT (New)
Why
From relative obscurity, Vaishnaw was catapulted to the hot seat, heading crucial ministries — Railways, Telecom and IT — in the reshuffle of 2021, giving the impression that he was handpicked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself. He has shown that he means business by expediting the production plan of Vande Bharat, working to resolve logjams over the merger of services and pacing up the Bullet Train project. As the Minister for Information & Technology, he has made the right noises on accountability of social media companies and data security. He keeps a diary where he notes down all his instructions and holds officials to account in subsequent meetings.
Power punch
He has cut short tenures of top Railway officers over the lack of performance. He faced Parliament, outlining the government’s stand on the Pegasus controversy.
What Next
He is working towards the financial turnaround of Railways in the next 12-18 months. Before 2024, he has to deliver on Vande Bharat and station development.
By the way
He was involved in the setting up of manufacturing units by Maruti and Honda in 2012. Also, he is a voracious reader.
50. Neeraj Chopra, 24

Olympic Gold medallist & Javelin Thrower (New)
Why
In Tokyo last year, he became only the second Indian sportsperson to win a gold medal at the 2021 Olympics, and the first track-and-field athlete to finish on the top of the podium. The feat propelled the javelin thrower to an unprecedented level of popularity. According to reports, he also became the second-most expensive athlete in India after Virat Kohli and was the most mentioned athlete globally on Instagram during the Olympics. Chopra is conscious of his stardom. He has oozed charm in public events but at the same time, not shied from making stern statements, as was evident when his words regarding a Pakistani javelin thrower were twisted out of context.
Power punch
Winning the gold medal at the Olympics.
What Next
This is again a packed year for the young athlete, with the World Championships, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games set to be held in quick succession.
By the way
He is a photography and automobile enthusiast. He keeps track of new car launches and has recently purchased a second-hand sports car because of a long waiting period to buy a brand new model.
51. Rahul Gandhi, 51

Former Congress President (2021 Rank: 39)
Why
Rahul Gandhi is the emperor of a kingdom which is in secular decline. But he is still the most consistent and vociferous anti-BJP voice in the Opposition space. Not a unifier like his mother, he nevertheless calls the shots in the Congress and is seen by most of his colleagues as the de facto president and future of the grand old party.
Power punch
Months before the Assembly election in Punjab, Gandhi could effect a change of guard both at the leadership and government levels without a split in the state unit. It is another matter that his calculations went awry.
What Next
This year will be a turning point in his political career. All eyes are on whether he would return to the helm of the Congress later this year. He hasn’t revealed his mind yet.
By the way
He plays online chess in his spare time.
52. Kiren Rijiju, 50

Minister of Law and Justice (New)
Why
Rising the ranks, Kiren Rijiju was elevated to the rank of Cabinet minister in 2021 and given charge of the Ministry of Law and Justice. Although he is a law graduate, Rijiju is relatively new to the politics of the judiciary. That he inherited the key portfolio shows the leadership’s faith in him. He is also considered the face of the BJP in the Northeast.
Power punch
He has been instrumental in clearing several recommendations of the collegium for appointment to High Courts in time.
What Next
Rijiju faces an uphill challenge of navigating the tussle between the judiciary and the executive that is still at odds over appointments.
By the way
He is fond of dogs and loves to spend time with his Shih Tzu pup.
53. C R Paatil, 67

President, Gujarat BJP and Lok Sabha MP from Navsari (New)
Why
Considered Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s man, Paatil is currently at the centre of Gujarat politics. The first leader with non-Gujarati roots to be appointed to an important post, his is the final word on any political matter in the state — be it the appointment of office-bearers or the distribution of party tickets.
Power punch
On his watch, Gujarat witnessed an unprecedented change with the chief minister and sitting ministers being dropped, and a new government taking charge. This barely a year ahead of the general elections. He also helmed the party’s unprecedented victory in the local body polls, which saw the complete decimation of the Congress.
What Next
The forthcoming Gujarat Assembly polls will be his test, considering he is targetting all 182 seats.
By the way
When he was with the Gujarat Police, he fought for a police union.
54. Nitish Kumar, 71

Chief Minister, Bihar (2021 Rank: 80)
Why
Given his image as a “development man”, Nitish Kumar emerged as the consensus choice for the state CM for a fourth tenure, despite JD(U) being No.3 party in the state, behind RJD and BJP. The BJP has not yet openly challenged his position.
Power punch
He remains the tallest leader of Bihar, the reason why BJP did not press for an alternative CM despite winning more seats than JD(U) in the 2020 Assembly elections. He has put his foot down on caste census, saying the state will hold one if the Centre doesn’t.
What Next
With BJP now the largest party in the Assembly and resurgent after the recent election wins, Kumar’s standing within the NDA has shrunk further. However, the man who once nursed prime ministerial ambitions has few options left, especially with the RJD reins passing on to Tejashwi Yadav.
By the way
He likes green gram ghughni when it is in season.
55. Tejashwi Yadav, 32

Leader of Opposition, Bihar Assembly (2021 Rank: 76)
Why
Yadav is the most important politician in Bihar right now, after CM Nitish Kumar. With RJD chief Lalu Prasad out of politics since long owing to his conviction, and failing health, his youngest son is a promising leader, in control of his party.
Power punch
Having realised early on that the traditional Muslim-Yadav combination alone can’t get him power in the state, he’s working to make RJD more assimilative. His 2020 Assembly polls promise of 10 lakh jobs made him popular among the youth. In the Assembly, he has made a mark with strongly argued speeches.
What Next
Yadav is working towards broader Opposition unity, and most recently, got socialist veteran Sharad Yadav’s Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) to merge with RJD.
By the way
In December, Yadav married Rachel Iris, his friend from DPS RK Puram, Delhi.
56. Akhilesh Yadav, 48
Samajwadi Party President (2021 Rank: 70)
Why
With Mayawati’s BSP and the Congress retreating into the shadows in the recent Uttar Pradesh polls, making it a bipolar fight, Akhilesh Yadav has become the state’s strongest Opposition leader. Though they could not wrest power from the BJP, SP and its allies won 125 of 403 seats — up from the SP’s 47 seats in 2017.
Power Punch
The former CM led a spirited campaign against the BJP in the run-up to the election, taking on BJP bigwigs like CM Yogi Adityanath, Home Minister Amit Shah and PM Narendra Modi.
What Next
His focus will be on keeping up the party’s morale and ensuring that the ‘Nayi Sapa’ (new SP) does not get overwhelmed by successive defeats. Towards that end, he resigned as MP, choosing to continue as Karhal MLA.
By the way
He likes Hindustani poetry and peppers his conversations with it.
57. Bimal Patel, 60
President, CEPT University; MD, HCP Design, planning and management Pvt ltd (2021 Rank: 99)
Why
His firm handles important public projects including the Central Vista in New Delhi, the Rs 1,200-crore Sabarmati Ashram Redevelopment Project in Ahmedabad and has completed the first phase of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple Corridor in Varanasi, in record time, in spite of Covid-19 restrictions.
Power Punch
Despite a strong opposition to the Sabarmati project, it has taken off, so has Central Vista, with the court ruling favouring the project. The first Kashi Vishwanath Temple Corridor was inaugurated recently by PM Modi.
What Next
Patel’s firm has been commissioned the Master Plan for the Somnath Temple in Gujarat. They also have the Mumbai Port Complex Master Plan and the Pune Riverfront Development projects.
By the Way
During his frequent trips to Delhi initially, Patel preferred riding the Delhi Metro to help save time.
58. D K Shivakumar, 59
President, Karnataka pradesh Congress Committee (2021 Rank: 79)
Why
Shivakumar has been a trouble-shooter for the Congress over the years and is one of the wealthiest politicians in Karnataka. The party often turns to him to guard MLAs from the threat of poaching by the BJP.
Power Punch
Earlier this year, he crafted his political relevance by embarking on a 100-km “Walk for Water” yatra, demanding a check dam project on the river Cauvery. He is positioning himself as a prominent Vokkaliga leader in south Karnataka at a time when the JD (S) is losing its hold.
What Next
The KPCC president has to draw up a strategy to help Congress stop the BJP juggernaut in the 2023 Assembly polls.
By the way
Shivakumar can recite Sanskrit shlokas and often chants them in the public to counter BJP criticism of the Congress being anti-Hindu.
59. Ghulam Nabi Azad, 73
CWC member, former leader of opposition, Rajya Sabha (New)
Why
A quintessential Congress insider for almost five decades, Ghulam Nabi Azad is now the dissenter-in-chief. The former Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha has managed to rally a group of senior leaders calling for reforms in the intransigent Congress, mounting a serious challenge to the Gandhis. His rich organisational experience and admirable networking skills make him a force to reckon with.
Power punch
The Narendra Modi government honoured him with the Padma Bhushan, signaling that he commands respect across the aisle.
What next
The rebellion by a section of the senior Congress leadership led by him is reaching a turning point. His future course and that of G-23 will depend on whether he will land an important organisational assignment or a Rajya Sabha seat.
By the way
He is writing his autobiography. As he makes time in between political parleys, the book is likely to be out later this year.
60. Azim Premji, 76
Former chairman, Wipro Limited (2021 Rank: 53)
Why
The founding president of one of India’s largest conglomerates, his company continues to have a successful run. He is still a mentoring influence in Wipro’s efforts to push the boundaries in terms of new technology.
Power Punch
Premji had, for the second consecutive year, in 2020, retained his spot as the top philanthropist in India. The IT mogul committed donations worth Rs 9,713 crore in 2020-21, up 23 per cent year on year and far ahead of other industrialists on the list.
What Next
With the pandemic severely impacting education, the Azim Premji Foundation will increase its spend on educational initiatives.
By The Way
The Supreme Court recently lauded him for pardoning a person who had filed 70 ‘frivolous and misconceived’ cases against Premji and his associates.
61. Bhagwant Singh Mann, 48
Chief Minister, Punjab (New)
Why
The comedian-turned-politician steered the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to a historic win in the Punjab Assembly elections, giving wings to his party’s national ambitions. With a strong people connect, he has broken Punjab’s traditional alternation of power between the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal.
Power Punch
He is the new entrant in the beleaguered state, who has arrived with populist moves like announcing 2,500 government jobs and regularising 35,000 contractual ones. What has been his masterstroke? He released a personal WhatsApp number for whistleblowers against corruption in the state.
What next
Mann has promised to stem the rot that has set in the state by tackling every area of distress, from agriculture and education to industry.
By the way
He is fond of watching basketball.
62. Asaduddin Owaisi, 52
President, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (2021 Rank: 72)
Why
When most non-BJP parties are wary of being seen as “pro-Muslim” in their politics, Asaduddin Owaisi has rushed into the space and established himself as one of the leading voices representing his community. With his eyes on national politics, he has guided his party AIMIM into several states where his candidates have won many seats in local elections.
Power Punch
A key influencer, he tests political waters across the country with the AIMIM opening offices nationwide.
What Next
Disappointed with his performance in the UP election, he is now looking to stitch alliances with regional parties.
By the way
An avid cricketer, he represented Osmania University where he was involved in a speed battle with Venkatesh Prasad, who was representing Bangalore University.
63. Rajeev Chandrasekhar, 57
MoS for Electronics & IT (New)
Why
A strong proponent of good governance through institutional reforms, Chandrasekhar is a politician, technocrat and a third-term member of Rajya Sabha. He has been assigned two key portfolios — Electronics & IT and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship — where he is driving the reform agenda to put into effect initiatives like Digital India and Skill India. Last year, he was appointed in-charge for Assembly elections in Puducherry.
Power Punch
With Cabinet colleagues Dharmendra Pradhan and Anurag Singh Thakur, he was involved in a digital campaign, which played a crucial role in BJP’s victory in the recent UP Assembly polls.
What Next
To map the cyberspace jurisprudence for Modi’s ‘Atmanirbhar Internet’ call.
By the way
He has been visiting Sabarimala every year for 27 years.
64. Byju Raveendran, 41
Founder & CEO, BYJU’s (2021 Rank: 84)
Why
Byju’s eponymous ed-tech company is India’s biggest unicorn valued at over $22 billion. In the face of criticism over aggressive sales techniques, the platform continued its fund-raising spree. The world’s most valuable ed-tech company is also focussing on global expansion and a possible listing on the public markets.
Power Punch
Byju himself participated in the company’s latest fund raise — an uncommon practice for a start-up founder. He put in $400 million to the total $800-million investment round. The latest is that his firm has been named as a sponsor of the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
What Next
With lawmakers and the government turning the heat on ed-tech companies, Byju’s strategy to navigate through the regulatory waters will be key to its growth.
By The Way
Byju started his career in a UK-based shipping company as a service engineer.
65. PK Mishra, 73
Principal Secretary to Prime minister
Why 
Mishra has slowly but surely emerged as the PM’s man-Friday over the years in matters related to complex bureaucratic appointments, departmental policy logjams and the like. Now, the low-key Mishra is the face of the Prime Minister’s Office.
Power punch
The retired Gujarat cadre IAS officer’s perceived personal closeness to the PM adds to his clout. He prefers to shun the media glare and remain in the background.
What next
As part of the PM’s core team in government, Mishra will continue to push senior bureaucratic leadership in key ministries to put their best foot forward in the Government’s image-building exercise.
By the way
Mishra takes a keen interest in disaster management, and his expertise had come in handy during the pandemic.
66. Amit Khare, 60
Advisor to PM, PMO (2021 Rank: 52)
Why
Till his retirement last year, Khare was among the few serving bureaucrats in the country that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) relied heavily on for planning the government’s communication strategy. He was appointed advisor to Modi in the PMO immediately after his retirement as higher education secretary in September 2021. In his new role, he primarily looks after the social welfare sectors, including education and rural development.
Power Punch
Khare is overseeing the government’s digital push in social sectors — often counted among the PM’ s top priorities — including the digital health mission, virtual labs and digital university.
What Next
He will continue to oversee the implementation of the National Education Policy 2020.
BY THE WAY
He likes travelling to offbeat and unexplored destinations.
67. Hemant Soren, 46
Chief Minister, Jharkhand (2021 Rank: 97)
Why
Such is Soren’s political capital that despite persistent efforts of the BJP to dethrone him, his coalition government won two by-elections, including in Dumka. He neutralised the entire Opposition campaign led by heavyweights like BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP Deepak Prakash and the first Jharkhand CM Babulal Marandi.
Power Punch
Despite charges of corruption, Soren has been able to keep his ally, the Congress, in check. Congress workers allege that Soren is poaching their votebase and ‘politically finishing’ their party. But he is consolidating himself with populist schemes.
What Next
His biggest challenge will be to change the perception as corruption charges fly thick and fast, more than what stuck to the previous government.
By the way
He is a good badmiton player and has beaten professional players.
68. Sunil Bharti Mittal, 64
Founder and Chairman, Bharti Enterprises (2021 Rank: 73)
Why
Rivalry with Reliance Jio and the costly Supreme Court judgment on past statutory dues were not enough to perturb the country’s second-largest telecom operator Bharti Airtel, even as its competitor Vodafone Idea nearly went belly up. Mittal also led the way in bringing the mobile-service industry on the same table for a tariff hike.
Power Punch
In 2020, Mittal-led Bharti Enterprises won the bid to become the largest shareholder in the UK-based satellite communications company OneWeb.
What Next
While OneWeb is likely to become one of the earliest Indian entrants in the satellite broadband space, it faces competition from the likes of Elon Musk’s StarLink and Reliance Jio. The imminent launch of 5G services will also prove crucial for Airtel’s growth.
By The Way
He loves listening to Jagjit Singh’s ghazals.
69. Rohit Sharma, 34
Indian cricket captain (New)
Why
Sharma has grown in stature having been crowned India’s all-format captain. Once seen as a batsman with a questionable temperament for the longer version, he has been the team’s highest scorer in Tests in the last few years, with 906 runs in 11 games. Leading one of the most popular Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises and winning five titles for Mumbai Indians add to his captaincy mettle.
Power punch
Sharma has a big say in the selection of players and their place in the playing XI. By being the long-standing successful captain of an influential IPL, he has powerful backers among stakeholders.
What next
India hasn’t won an ICC tournament since 2013. He has two World Cups to set the record straight — the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year and the 50-over World Cup in India next year.
By the way
He loves Mumbai’s street food and vacations in Spain and Greece.
70. Anand Mahindra, 66
Chairman, Mahindra Group (2021 Rank: 67)
Why
With Anand Mahindra at the helm, the $21-billion Mahindra Group has expanded at home and abroad into a wide range of industrial sectors — be it automobiles, agriculture, IT or aerospace. It has a 2.6 lakh workforce in over
100 countries.
Power Punch
In November last year, Mahindra stepped down from his executive role in the organisation to become its non-executive chairman. The group enjoys a leadership position in farm equipment, utility vehicles, information technology and financial services in India and is the world’s largest tractor company by volume.
What Next
Led by him, the group will launch 16 electric vehicles by 2027 at an investment of Rs 3,000 crore. The plan is to become a leader in the electric mobility business.
By the way
A passionate photographer, he loves sailing and playing tennis.
71. Manoj Sinha, 62
Lieutenant-Governor of Jammu & Kashmir (2021 Rank: 21)
Why
Sinha has been a leader since his ABVP student-activist days. By implementing central schemes, managing the security scenario, pushing the Centre’s development agenda, and bringing in investments, the BJP sees Sinha’s handling of J&K as effective.
Power Punch
The L-G administration has cleared investment proposals of around Rs 27,000 crore. In the next six months, it’s expected to cross Rs 70,000 crore.
What Next
He is keen on expanding road infrastructure in J&K, and restarting the Amarnath Yatra. There are apprehensions around delimitation and the next Assembly election.
BY THE WAY
When socialist leader Janeshwar Mishra (Chhote Lohia) visited Varanasi back in the day, Sinha was a student leader who brought him kala jamun and rabri.
72. Madhabi Puri Buch, 56
Chairperson, SEBI (New)
Why
Madhabi Puri Buch is the first woman chairperson of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). She is also the first person from the private sector to head the markets regulator.
Power Punch
Buch is known for her tough stance on insider trading. For instance, she cracked down on fraudulent tradings by two prominent television anchors of a business news channel. Buch also passed a number of orders banning trading in suspected shell companies based on the list drawn up by the government during their drive against black money in 2017.
What Next
Buch’s immediate agenda will be to handle the cases relating to the NSE co-location scam and former NSE MD & CEO Chitra Ramkrishna.
By the way
She was at the Taj Mumbai during the 26/11 terrorist attack.
73. Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, 65
Leader of the congress in LS (2021 Rank: 63)
Why
As the leader of the Congress — the single largest opposition party in Lok Sabha — Chowdhury is its voice on key panels which pick the CBI Director, Central Vigilance Commissioner, Central Information Commissioner, Chairman and members of the NHRC and the Lokpal. In the party, he is known for having an ear to the ground in West Bengal.
Power punch
He is a critic of CM Mamata Banerjee. The TMC supremo had nudged the Congress leadership to replace him in LS but he remained unscathed.
What next
Although the Congress could not open its account in West Bengal, he continues to head the state unit. It is to be seen if he remains there or is moved to a new role.
By the way
He carries toffees for children during his travels
74. Omar Abdullah, 52
Vice-President, National Conference (New)
Why
As its rival PDP has lost considerable ground in the Valley and smaller parties have failed to make a mark, the National Conference has a chance to re-emerge as a potent political force in J&K. Currently, it’s the only political party that has considerable presence in all regions of J&K.
Power punch
Like PDP, there have been efforts to break the National Conference in J&K and some of its leaders — especially in Jammu — left the party. But by and large, Abdullah and his party has thwarted these attempts, making him stronger.
What next
Whenever elections are held in J&K, there could be an attempt to divide the party and the challenge for Abdullah would be to keep it together. Also traditionally there have been tensions between the party’s old guard and the new generation. How well Abdullah bridges this gap would impact his political future.
BY THE WAY
His favourite food is rainbow trout.
75. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, 50
AICC General secretary (2021 Rank: 41)
Why
On paper, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is the AICC general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh. She was for long the conscience-keeper of both mother Sonia and brother Rahul, but is now increasingly assertive and has come to play a key role in decision making in the party, be it placating a rebellious Sachin Pilot or pushing Navjot Singh Sidhu as the president of Punjab Congress.
Power punch
She convinced the party to reserve 40 per cent tickets for women in UP; it was unprecedented. Her aggressive ‘Ladki Hoon Lad Sakti Hoon’ campaign also helped gain media attention in Uttar Pradesh.
What next
She has vowed to give undivided attention to Uttar Pradesh to prepare the party for the 2024 Lok Sabha battle. But given that the Congress is in a flux, her role will be clear in the coming months.
By the way
She is a master scuba diver.
76. TV Somanathan, 56
Finance and Expenditure Secretary (2021 Rank: 78)
Why
As the seniormost secretary among the five secretaries in the Finance Ministry, Somanathan is one of the most influential bureaucrats. He is trusted by the Government for articulating economic policy. He had a major role to play in the PM Garib Kalyan and Atmanirbhar Bharat announcements in 2020.
Power Punch
He has been instrumental for outlining capital expenditure push in the Government’s post-pandemic budget to revive economic growth.
What next
With the global geopolitical tension having a ripple effect on financial markets and commodity prices, he has his task cut out with managing the fiscal math and steering the economy to a higher growth trajectory.
By the way
He learnt the Hausa language in northern Nigeria, where he did his secondary schooling.
77. Kumar Mangalam Birla, 54
Chairman, Aditya Birla Group (2021 Rank: 81)
Why
In the 25 years at the helm of the Aditya Birla Group, he has raised the group’s turnover by over 20 times, to $45 billion. He has been the architect of over 40 successful acquisitions in India and abroad, the highest by any Indian multinational.
Power Punch
In mid-2021, he offered to hand over the group’s 27.66 per cent stake in cash-strapped Vodafone Idea to any public sector or domestic financial entity who could keep the company afloat, while also asserting that the telco would collapse without immediate government support. The government was then forced to work out a revival package for telecom companies, giving a lifeline to Vodafone Idea.
What Next
The group has already unveiled plans to invest $2.4 billion across businesses.
By the way
Playing chess is one of his hobbies.
78. Baba Ramdev, 56
Co-Founder, Patanjali Ayurved (2021 Rank: 68)
Why
Baba Ramdev is looking to build India’s leading consumer-goods brand in Patanjali Ayurved with hopes of overtaking FMCG companies like Hindustan Unilever. In a year when most businesses were ravaged by pandemic, Patanjali Ayurved reported Rs 485 crore in net profits for the 2020-21 financial year.
Power Punch
The Patanjali Group crossed Rs 30,000 crore in revenue in ’20-’21.
What Next
Patanjali Ayurved is targetting a turnover of close to Rs 1 lakh crore in the next five years and a potential public listing. Ruchi Soya, which Patanjali had acquired in 2019, is gearing up for a Rs 4,300 crore follow-on public offer. Ramdev is also been planning an entry into education.
By the way
Ramdev was a judge on the Hindi television reality music show, Om Shanti Om, which aired in 2017.
79. Mehbooba Mufti, 62
President, People’s Democratic Party (2021 Rank: 56)
Why
If any mainstream politician in Jammu & Kashmir has stood up to BJP and its policies, it is Mehbooba Mufti. She is unafraid to voice her stand on Kashmir and its related issues. Despite having once allied with the BJP, she is now a vocal critic of its politics and an ardent supporter of dialogue with Pakistan for the resolution of the Kashmir issue.
Power Punch
The PDP chief was among the leaders released last from detention after abrogation of Article 370. The release followed the Supreme Court questioning the government on how long it planned to keep her under house arrest.
What Next
Mufti’s biggest challenge is her party. Will she be able to revive it, especially when it has lost considerable ground in the Valley? Most of its leaders have gone looking for greener pastures.
By the way
She enjoys watching Humsafar, a television serial.
80. Virat Kohli, 33
Former India Cricket team captain (2021 Rank: 83)
Why
Though he is no longer the captain, the Kohli brand hasn’t yet been dented. He still retains the charisma to fill stadium seats and sell products. For his 100th Test in Mohali, BCCI had to roll back on their decision to hold the game behind closed doors, apparently because of the social media outrage of Kohli fans. His support of teammate Mohammed Shami, target of hate-mongers, was a powerful statement. For his IPL franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore, he remains an immensely vital cog in the wheel.
Power punch
With 186 million Instagram followers and another 47.2 million on Twitter, Kohli is one of the biggest influencers around. The BCCI felt the full force of it during the recent captaincy debate.
What next
Kohli’s challenge would be to not let the tag of former captain dent his famous run-making drive.
By the way
Kohli is a good mimic.
81. Fali S Nariman, 93
Constitutional jurist, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court (2021 Rank: 69)
Why
With almost seven decades of practising law, Fali Nariman has witnessed nearly all the watershed moments of the judiciary and draws from that vast experience. He remains one of the country’s most respected jurists and constitutional lawyers.
Power Punch
He contested the Centre’s Covid-19 rules on Parsi funerals and argued that there was no provision for Parsis to carry out Dokhmenashini, a ritual where the deceased is kept on the Tower of Silence.
What Next
As the conscience-keeper for the judiciary, Nariman’s views will be crucial in shaping conversations, both inside and outside the courtroom.
By the way
Much before he had a stint as a Parliamentarian, Nariman was part of a mock parliament in his law school.
82. Shah Rukh Khan, 56
Actor, producer, sports entrepreneur (2021 Rank: New)
Why
He is the guru of reinvention. He has shaped the entertainment industry for three decades and is back in an action-hero avatar with Pathaan and filmmaker Atlee’s double-role thriller Lion. In the midst of the controversy around his son, he maintained a stoic silence and retained the loyalty of the brands associated with him.
Power Punch
With SRK+, he is set to revolutionise the OTT space, be it independently or in association with Disney Hotstar.
What Next
After critically acclaimed titles like Badla, Bard of Blood, Bob Biswas and Love Hostel, his Red Chillies is working on two women-themed films, one, about two women finding love in exceptional circumstances and another about a journalist speaking truth to power.
By the way
He loves hanging out in Dubai, and is terrified of riding horses.
83. Devendra Fadnavis, 51
Opposition leader, Maharashtra (2021 Rank: 62)
Why
He has consistently led the BJP’s charge against the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, pressuring it with timely revelations. He was instrumental in scripting the BJP’s victory in Goa.
Power Punch
He may be in the Opposition but the former CM has immense penetration in Maharashtra’s bureaucracy and police. He’s weaponised sensitive and confidential information, including call data records (CDRs), telephone intercepts and even statements made to the police, to put the MVA on the mat.
What Next
He has set his eyes on dethroning the MVA from power. His major test will be ensuring a strong BJP performance in the corporation elections in Maharashtra’s major cities.
BY THE WAY
A closet singer, Fadnavis has also modelled for a Nagpur-based garment store.
84. Pushkar Singh Dhami, 46
Chief Minister, Uttarakhand (New)
Why
Dhami, who became Uttarakhand’s youngest chief minister eight months ago, led the BJP to a second consecutive term — the first time an incumbent has returned to power in the hill state.
Power Punch
Though he failed to secure his own Khatima seat, Dhami was chosen over many others for the top job and sworn in as chief minister for the second time—an acknowledgment of his role in leading the party to victory in the state.
What Next
Dhami needs to be elected to the State Assembly within six months to continue as CM and also has the task of keeping together the faction-ridden state unit of the party.
By the Way
Dhami considers his wife Geeta his lucky charm and the pahadi cap he wore during his swearing-in ceremony was a special gift from his in-laws.
85. Rajiv Gauba, 62
Cabinet Secretary (2021: 58)
Why
As PM Modi’s top man in central bureaucracy, Gauba has not only been key to formulating and implementing government policy on India’s response to Covid-19. He’s steered coordination between the Centre and the states on record vaccinations achieved by the country. Gauba, who was granted a one-year extension in 2021, has coordinated efforts of various ministries and states on the schemes for the poor.
Power Punch
With PK Mishra’s exit from the PMO and his own tenure coming to an end in August this year, Gauba is speculated to be among the contenders to become principal secretary to the PM.
What Next
With the economy opening up, Gauba will have the task of steering the bureaucracy to implement government agenda on growth.
By the way
He is very particular about time management in meetings and comes straight to the point.
86. Tuhin Kanta Pandey, 57
Secretary, Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) (New)
Why
With an ambitious privatisation agenda lined up by the government, DIPAM will be at the forefront of the Centre’s push to reduce its business presence and give a greater play to the private sector. The BJP government’s success in the recent Assembly elections is expected to reinvigorate stake sales in PSU companies.
Power Punch
DIPAM, under Pandey, has been able to successfully privatise Air India by selling the loss-making national carrier to the Tata Group.
What Next
Completing the proposed initial public offering of Life Insurance Corporation will be a significant milestone. Getting buyers for Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd and rolling out privatisation of IDBI Bank, two other state-owned lenders, will also be under focus.
By The Way
He is fluent in Hindi, English, Punjabi and Odia
87. Nandan Nilekani, 66
Non-executive Chairman, Infosys (New)
Why
Having started his entrepreneurial journey in the Indian IT industry in 1981, Nilekani is among the rare entrepreneurs who have successfully executed projects in the public as well as the private sector.
Power Punch
He has been included in a nine-member advisory council to advise the government on measures needed to design and accelerate the adoption of Open Network for Digital Commerce.
What Next
He is working on EkStep, a not-for-profit effort to create a technology-based platform to improve basic
literacy for millions of children, which lays the template for the use of technology as an asset for the greater good.
By The Way
While working, Nilekani avoids communication tools such as messages and WhatsApp.
88. Ram Sewak Sharma,66
CEO, National Health Authority (2021 Rank: 66)
Why 
Soon after he retired from the IAS, he was appointed CEO of the apex body implementing the ambitious Ayushman Bharat Yojana – National Health Authority. An expert on technology and big data, he was entrusted with developing the CoWIN platform that has served as the backbone for Covid-19 vaccination drive in the country.
Power Punch
Last year, the PM launched e-RUPI, a contactless instrument for digital payment for Covid-19 vaccination, conceptualised by Sharma. It’s is expected to be used in delivering services related to providing drugs and diagnostics.
What next
Under him, the NHA will roll out a digital ecosystem that will comprise registries of health providers, health facilities and consent framework.
By the way  
Loves designing information systems, and has been writing code since 1986.
89. M Jagadesh Kumar, 60
Chairman, University Grants Commission (New)
Why
An electronics engineer by training from the IIT-Madras, Kumar taught at the IIT-Delhi for nearly two decades between 1997 and 2016, when he was made the vice-chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). He continues to take classes at IIT-D. In February, he was made chairperson of the University Grants Commission.
Power Punch
JNU was in the grip of intense political churn under Kumar’s watch, raising a question mark over his leadership. But he weathered the storm and it did not dent his career progression.
What Next
As head of UGC, Kumar will oversee the rollout of key National Education Policy 2020 proposals on reforming the higher education sector, ranging from the central universities common entrance test to the four-year undergraduate programme.
By the way
He practises Shito-Ryu karate and prefers taking the stairs to his eighth-floor classroom in IIT.
90. Sushil Chandra, 64
Chief Election Commissioner of India
Why
Chandra took over as the 24th CEC last April and oversaw key Assembly elections. As member of the Delimitation Commission, he will play an important role in deciding the redrawn boundaries of Assembly and Lok Sabha seats in Jammu & Kashmir.
Power Punch
Chandra’s decision to ban election rallies and roadshows ahead of the Assembly elections across five states in January helped curb the spread of the Omicron variant. The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which seeks to link electoral roll data with the Aadhaar ecosystem, was also passed during his tenure.
What Next
He is building on the electoral reforms he pushed, including remote voting and unified electoral rolls, and arguing for simultaneous elections. He is due to retire in May.
By the way
He has a vast collection of teas from across the world.
91. Prashant Kishor, 45
Election strategist (2021 Rank: 98)
Why
He has transformed political campaigning in India in many ways, from pushing parties to adopt data analysis in a more structured manner to disruptive publicity drives. Two general elections and many Assembly polls later, Kishor has emerged as a formidable force in the minefield of Indian politics.
Power Punch
He helped Mamata Banerjee steer the TMC to power in West Bengal. He also worked closely with MK Stalin, who led DMK to a thumping majority in the 2021 Tamil Nadu Assembly polls.
What Next
He has dropped enough hints about his desire to help strengthen the Opposition parties going into the 2024 general election. Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao has announced that Kishor is working with him.
By the way
He has multiple pairs of his trademark black polo T-shirt.
92. Amitabh Kant, 66
CEO, NITI Aayog (New)
Why
Amitabh Kant has been a key driver of the government’s flagship initiatives such as Make in India, Startup India and Incredible India. At NITI Aayog, he is overseeing the Aspirational Districts Programme, which uses data-based governance to improve the socio-economic outcomes of some of India’s most backward districts.
Power Punch
Under his watch, NITI Aayog has developed the National Monetisation Pipeline, which aims to unlock value in brownfield projects by engaging the private sector. He’s been promoting an EV revolution in the country.
What Next
Even as Kant’s current term as NITI Aayog CEO ends on June 30, he is expected to remain at the forefront of the EV and digital push in the country.
By the way
He uses an electric vehicle — a white coloured Tata Nexon EV, in his case, as his official vehicle.
93. Harish Salve, 66
Former Solicitor General (2021 Rank: 92)
Why
India’s most sought after corporate lawyer may have shifted base to London but is still a regular in courts in the country. He represents big corporate houses, including Reliance and Tata Sons. The Indian government also dials in Salve for its cases abroad, be it the Kulbhushan Jadhav spy case or to extradite fugitive Mehul Choksi from the Dominican government’s custody.
Power Punch
Salve dominated the Supreme Court during the pandemic as courts functioned virtually. Appearing from London, the cases in which he appeared ranged from the farmer protests to the Lakhimpur Kheri violence in Uttar Pradesh.
What Next
He continues to hold the brief for major corporate power houses. There is also speculation about his return to India for a larger role.
By the way
Salve is a jazz enthusiast.
94. Kangana Ranaut, 34
Actor & Producer (New)
Why
With four National Awards, this Padma Shri recipient has proved that commerce respects talent even if you are on a solitary road. She continues to make headlines with her no-holds-barred opinions, engaging in blistering debates with critics on all public platforms. She is the poster girl of pop nationalism.
Power Punch
By turning producer with Manikarnika and having done Thalaivi, the biopic on actor-politician J Jayalalithaa, she is determined to push female-driven narratives and direct them herself. Considered close to the establishment, she advocates its stance through social media posts and was invited to the swearing-in of the UP CM.
What Next
Watch out for Dhaakad and Tejas. By directing a feature titled Emergency and playing the lead in Sita, she is foregrounding subterranean politico-cultural viewpoints in the popular space.
By the way
She is heavily into spirituality.
95. Mayawati, 66
National President, Bahujan Samaj Party (2021 Rank: 71)
Why
Though the BSP won just one seat in the UP Assembly polls, its vote share at 13 per cent is still way above the Congress’s 2.3 per cent. Though a much-diminished figure heading a party that seems less than agile in keeping up with the demands of new politics, Mayawati remains relevant in Uttar Pradesh politics.
Power Punch
Despite old hands leaving the party, she still holds the reins. She has appointed her brother and nephew to prominent positions in the party, signaling to the cadres her grip on the next rung of power.
What next
Given the dominant perception that it was the shift in the BSP’s vote that helped the BJP come back to power in the state, the biggest task ahead for her is to re-establish her own position as well as of her party — as a leader of the Opposition, and of the Dalits.
By the way
She demands complete silence when she is reading or writing.
96. Akshay Kumar, 54
Actor & producer (New)
Why
He is the most visible barometer of the public pulse. Calling himself a producer’s actor, his sustained hits in the film industry prove that he is in the business called Bollywood. From action hero, comic, Everyman, crusader and now anti-hero, he has delivered in all genres. He kept the industry afloat with his Bellbottom, Sooryavanshi and Bachchan Pandey, earning close to Rs 200 crore in the pandemic gap years.
Power Punch
Known to be an astute businessman who values time, budgets and co-stars, the Padma Shri recipient is the industry’s most bankable star. FMCG brands love him.
What Next
He will be playing the role of Prithviraj Chauhan in YRF’s next and an archaeologist on the trail of the Ram Setu.
By the way
He prefers not to eat after sunset and sleeps by 9 pm.
97. Alia Bhatt, 29
Actor, Producer (New)
Why
After establishing herself as a versatile and emotive actor at a relatively young age, she has proved herself to be a crowd-puller of the Rs 100 crore-plus club with Gangubai Kathiawadi, where she literally carried the film on her shoulders. It played a crucial role in drawing viewers back to the cinema halls in large numbers.
Power Punch
With SS Rajamouli’s big budget RRR and the magnum opus Brahmastra, she is the queen of the sweepstakes. She’s also signed an international spy thriller, Heart of Stone, featuring Gal Gadot.
What Next
The actor is on a mould-breaking spree with Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani and the all-woman road film Jee Le
Zaraa. Darlings, a dark comedy co-produced by her Eternal Sunshine Production, is supposed to release this year.
By the Way
Bhatt likes nature photography.
98. Pralhad Joshi, 59
Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Coal and Mines (New)
Why
Joshi’s emergence in national politics has been slow but steady. Considered close to BJP’s influential organisational general secretary BL Santhosh, he’s always had the backing of the RSS in Karnataka and now at the Centre. The Dharwad MP enjoys the support of the PM and by virtue of being the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, works closely with him during House sessions.
Power Punch
Named party in-charge of Uttarakhand just before the crucial Assembly elections, he resolved serious infighting, drew up a winning strategy and convinced everybody to continue with Pushkar Singh Dhami as Chief Minister despite his defeat in the polls.
What Next
He is one of the contenders for the post of Karnataka Chief Minister in the next round of state elections.
By the way
He loves to listen to classical music and occasionally sings on stage.
99. Prasoon Joshi, 50
Adman, Lyricist, Cbfc chief (New)
Why
One of the prominent lyricists of Hindi cinema and top-ranking adman, Joshi has been chairman of Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) since 2017. Winner of the Indian Personality of the Year award during the International Film Festival of India, Goa, last year, he played a key role in digitising CBFC.
Power Punch
Has worked on the Government’s social messaging as is evident from the appeal of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, polio eradication, malnutrition and child rights campaigns.
What Next
He has the tough task to convince filmmakers about a new draft proposal to amend the Cinematograph Act of 1952, which will give the Centre revisional powers.
By the way
He is a good singer.
100. Ramachandra Guha, 63
Historian and public intellectual (New)
Why
His scholarship is marked by regour and accessible story-telling that draws readers, across generations, to modern Indian history. At a time when much of it is contested, his formidable range of books enriches insight as much as it provokes thought.
Power Punch
His most recent work, Rebels Against the Raj, much like his iconic biography of anthropologist Verrier Elwin, is a story of India’s encounter with the West — and an argument against xenophobia.
What Next
A voice of dissent, he calls out abuse of power in a tone that is fiercely non-partisan — and humble. His choice of subjects will continue to deepen his readers’ understanding of a changing India.
By the way
In school, Guha was an off-break bowler, who idolised EAS Prasanna.
The Newsmakers: Backwards, SCs & minorities have still not understood their rights, says Om Prakash Rajbhar

source

Shop Sephari

Leave a Reply