Time’s 100 most influential people: Indians who made the cut

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Time magazine on Thursday released the list of its 100 most influential people. There have been some notable inclusions from India but the most obvious exclusion from the list has been of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Those who made the cut are Sania Mirza, Sunita Narain from Centre for Science and Environment, the RBI Governor, Raghuram Rajan, Actor Priyanka Chopra, Flipkar founders Sachin and Binny Bansal and the Google CEO, Sundar Pichai.

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Here’s what the authors wrote about these people in Time Magazine. Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar penned down the bio for Sania.

 

Sania Mirza- Tennis Player

“The Mirzas probably knew what the future held for their daughter. Her name, Sania, means brilliant.

I first heard about Sania Mirza back in 2005, when she became the first Indian to win a Women’s Tennis Association event. In 2008 I saw her play in the third round of the Australian Open against Venus Williams. Though she lost, I believed she had the potential to be a star.

When Sania’s singles career was cut short by wrist injuries, she, through dedication and willpower, reinvented herself fully as a doubles player. Today Sania and her partner on court, Martina Hingis, are No. 1 in doubles and utterly dominant—they have taken the past three Grand Slam events.

Sania’s confidence, strength and resilience reach beyond tennis. She has inspired a generation of Indians to pursue their dreams—and to realize that they can also be the best.”

Sunita Narain- Environment Activist

“Sunita Narain’s ideas have shaped some of the key debates of our time. A paper that she co-authored in 1991 remains to this day the foundational charter of the global climate-justice movement.

As an activist, Narain is a pioneer. She and the organization that she heads, the New Delhi–based Centre for Science and Environment, have been campaigning to reduce the Indian capital’s dangerous air-pollution levels for almost two decades. Despite resistance from many quarters, some of their key recommendations have been embraced by the courts.

Narain has also consistently opposed the kind of elite conservationism that blames environmental problems on the poor. Instead she has advocated policies that recognize India’s forest dwellers and indigenous peoples as essential custodians of their environments. Hers is a voice that urgently needs to be heard in this era of climate change.”

Sundar Pichai- Google CEO

“Sundar Pichai has helped change the world. Last summer he became the CEO of Google. You can look him up, er, I mean, you can Google him. He was the head guy on Google Drive. That’s the original term for “the cloud.” He worked on Google Chrome, Gmail and Android phones. A great many of us can’t tell which side of a street we’re on without checking Google Maps. He was born in Chennai, India, to a poor family, and discovered an aptitude for numbers when his family got its first telephone, a rotary, when he was 12.

He is an engineer. So is his wife. Engineers use science to solve problems and make things. Engineering applies a combination of logic and intuition to problem solving. It’s a way of thinking that leaves one well suited to run a company. We are all watching for what he produces next.”

Sachin and Binny Bansal: Founders of Flipkart

“Binny Bansal and Sachin Bansal (no relation) started Flipkart in 2007 as an online bookstore. For seed money, they pooled their savings: around $10,000. Their data center was their apartment in Bangalore. So it could have been the height of arrogance when the two Bansals, who had worked together at Amazon, told investors Flipkart could be worth $100 million in a decade.

It turned out to be modesty: Flipkart now has 75 million users and a $13 billion valuation. And Binny and Sachin do have modest lifestyles, by billionaire standards, but they’re also nimble tacticians and hardheaded realists, and they dream big. India’s vast marketplace—nearly four times as populous as the U.S., more open than China, with a wondrous dearth of entrenched brick-and-mortar superstores—is the biggest prize left in the e-commerce universe. They’ll have to fight it out with foreign heavyweights like Amazon and Alibaba, but it’s safe to say that no one is going to underestimate Binny and Sachin again.”

Priyanka Chopra- Actor

“Before ever meeting Priyanka Chopra, I had heard her name coming out of Bollywood and was impressed: she was beautiful, talented, had made nearly 50 movies, earned multiple awards—a massive star. When we connected around the time she started Quantico, we immediately hit it off. She has drive, ambition, self-respect, and she knows there’s no substitute for hard work. We always quote the saying “Wear your success like a T-shirt, not like a tuxedo,” and she really does—as big a star as she is, as global as she is, as beautiful as she is, there’s this interesting quality of relatability.

Now I’m lucky enough to be working with her on Baywatch. It’s an amazing time to watch as she pierces the U.S. market. She has an ability to inspire people to do more and achieve more. When I look at her success from the 50,000-ft. view and see everything that Priyanka has already done, is currently doing and has the desire and the bandwidth to do, I can see that her impact is going to be invaluable.”

 

Raghuram Rajan- RBI Governor

“Economic seers don’t come along too often, but Raghuram Rajan, the economist currently serving as the governor of the central bank of India, is one of them. While serving as the youngest chief economist of the IMF from 2003 to 2006, he predicted the subprime crisis that would lead to the Great Recession, standing up to critics like former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who labeled him a Luddite.

Since then, more and more of the economic establishment has come to share Rajan’s view that debt-fueled growth is just a saccharine substitute for the real thing. As he argued in his book Fault Lines, credit has become a palliative to address the deeper anxieties of downward mobility in the global middle class.

Debt hasn’t gone away since Rajan issued his warnings. In fact, it grew by $57 trillion from 2007 to 2014. But he steered India through the global crisis and fallout, playing a large role in making it one of the emerging-market stars of the moment. “

 

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