The India Today High and Mighty list has always had its share of plutocrats and popular stars, public intellectuals and persistent nuisances. It is a chronicle of people who influence society and culture beyond their immediate provenance.
58 | Industrialist
God of big things
Because he straddles the Indian business landscape like a colossus, from being the largest private player in oil and gas exploration to having a 2,000-store retail chain, ensuring that his company Reliance Industries remains India’s largest firm in the private sector, with cash reserves of over Rs 84,000 crore, revenue of Rs 3.8 lakh crore in 2015, and nearly Rs 24,000 crore in profit, up nearly five per cent from the previous year, bucking the otherwise depressing general business trend.
Because from an oil and gas and petrochemical behemoth, RIL has expanded into telecom with the 4G mobile service Reliance Jio, investing Rs 34,000 crore and partnering with his once estranged younger brother Anil.
Because he continues to be the benchmark for material success as India’s richest man for the ninth consecutive year in 2015 on the Forbes list, with a net worth of $18.9 billion.
Because he wields global influence in shaping the future of clean energy technologies, joining hands with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Alibaba’s Jack Ma and Ratan Tata, among others, to form the Breakthrough Energy Coalition.
Capped his salary at Rs 15 crore for the seventh year running, but stood sixth on the China-based luxury publishing group Hurun’s 2015 philanthropy list, with donations of Rs 345 crore.
Generally shy but loves to chat with employees under 30, often telling them he wishes he was their age in the era of such opportunities.
Does not miss any movie, Hindi or English, and calls friends over to his mini-theatre at home in Antilia for special screenings.
The next generation
His twin children Akash and Isha, 23, are both directors on the boards of Reliance Retail and Reliance Jio Infocomm. The youngest son, Anant, 20, is studying at Brown University, US, and is a big sports enthusiast, seldom missing a match of their IPL team, Mumbai Indians.
53 | Industrialist
Because the Ahmedabad-based businessman, known for his proximity to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has expanded his empire aggressively under the new regime, his wealth having risen 48 per cent (between May 2014 and May 2015) to an estimated $8.1 billion, the highest gain in net worth among seven Indians figuring in the Bloomberg Billionaires’ Index.
Because he has been quick to spot opportunities and close business deals in 2015, clinching the prestigious Rs 7,525-crore Vizhinjam Port deal in Kerala and acquiring L&T’s Kattupalli port in Tamil Nadu to become the largest private player in ports; acquiring the Udupi Power Corporation from LANCO to become India’s biggest private thermal power producer; while also staking a claim to domination in alternative energy by announcing a 10,000 MW solar power park with an investment of Rs 60,000 crore in Rajasthan.
He is set to build one of the world’s largest coal mines after Queensland gave environmental approval to the $16.5 billion project.
47 | Chairman, Tata Group
Because he is presiding over a cultural shift at the 147-year-old Tata Group, embracing next generation businesses such as e-commerce, digital health and consumer analytics.
Because he heads India’s true MNC, 67 per cent of whose revenues come from its UK and US subsidiaries such as Jaguar Land Rover and TCS.
Because the group remains India’s most diversified conglomerate with annual revenue of $108 billion, up by $5 billion last year, dominating the automobiles, IT and steel markets.
He is pushing for diversity within the group. Women at present comprise 25 per cent of the Tata workforce.
48 | Industrialist
Man on the move
Because he led the change from within for the 150-year-old, $41 billion Aditya Birla Group, straddling traditional brick-and-mortar businesses such as cement and textiles to new-age enterprises like e-commerce and mobile telephony.
Because he expanded his empire by acquiring Jaypee Group’s cement assets; consolidated Pantaloons and Madura Fashion & Lifestyle under Aditya Birla Fashion; entered into a joint venture for renewables with Abraaj Group; launched fashion e-commerce platform abof.com for the millennials; got RBI approval to set up a payments bank and, through acquisition, is now the country’s largest producer of chlor-alkali.
Because Idea Cellular is now India’s third-largest mobile operator, with annual sales of Rs 5,290 crore.
Because his advice is much sought after, he will be IIT-Delhi chairman for three years.
He bought Jatia House in Malabar Hill, Mumbai, for Rs 425 crore.
56 | Industrialist
Because the head of the Rs 56,000 crore Reliance Group is close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, responding quickly to his pet projects like Swachh Bharat and Make in India.
Because he is positioning himself as one of India’s largest private defence manufacturers, setting up a new shipyard on the east coast of Andhra Pradesh to build nuclear vessels; signing an agreement with Russian United Shipbuilding to build four frigates for the Indian Navy; and acquiring Pipavav Defence & Offshore Engineering with plans to set up India’s first smart city for defence.
Because he’s pared company debt through the sale of three coal mines in Indonesia, signing a pact to sell telecom towers to TPG and Tillman, and selling off his cement division to Birla Corp for Rs 4,800 crore.
Lights, camera, action
He is joining hands with Steven Spielberg and former e-Bay president Jeff Skoll to form a new film, TV and digital content company called Amblin Partners.
Doing the miles
Already amarathoner, he is now training to be a triathlete by taking up spin biking and swimming.
Amitabh Jhunjhunwala, MD, Reliance Group, who helps chalk out new business initiatives, raises capital for the group, and is also mentoring Jai Anmol Ambani, Anil’s eldest son, at Reliance Capital.
78 | Industrialist
Because he’s the first port of call for young entrepreneurs, investing between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 10 crore in as many as 25 start-ups in the past two years, and tying up with University of California Investments.
Because the government calls on him frequently for advice, be it heading an innovative council of the Indian Railways to turn around the ailing rail network in 2015 or for the proposed Bank Board Bureau to drive governance reforms in state-run banks.
Gift of giving
As chairman of Tata Trusts, which controls 65.5 per cent of Tata Sons, he exercises control over the spending of Rs 400 crore annually and Rs 600 crore by individual group companies on philanthropy.
Ratan Schumacher Tata?
A sports car enthusiast, likes his early morning drive on Marine Drive in his red Ferrari or the Cadillac XLR.
Loves dogs and keeps them both at his Colaba home and group HQ Bombay House. Has also invested in petcare portal DogSpot.in.
60 | Industrialist
Because of his expansion, the $17 billion Mahindra Group now has a cross-industry presence, from the automotive sector to defence, aerospace engineering and entertainment; in 2015 alone, he acquired Italian design firm Pininfarina, invested a large stake in Mitsubishi Agricultural Machinery of Japan and bought Peugeot Motorcycles.
Because he is India’s most suave entrepreneur and a global thought leader who wields considerable influence, whether as board member on the US-India Business Council, international advisory council member for Singapore’s Economic Development Board, co-founder of the Harvard Business School Association in India; he is also an annual fixture at the World Economic Summit at Davos.
Because he is a tycoon with a common touch, connected directly to his 2.88 million followers on Twitter, whom he updates on everything. Try tweeting with trouble in his cars and you get instant service.
In the game
The Pro Kabaddi League, conceived by him and now in its third season, has become India’s second most watched sport.
60 | Industrialist
Because the low-profile industrialist is India’s beacon in the global generic pharma space, scripting a new success story at the $4.5 billion Sun Pharma through a turnaround at Ranbaxy Laboratories which he acquired in 2014, leading to a threefold jump in Sun’s profits in the last quarter.
Because from being a pharma wholesaler in Kolkata, he currently runs the world’s fifth-largest specialty generic company.
Because the second wealthiest Indian, with a net worth of $17 billion, is close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was an invitee to his Make in India campaign and is often part of his foreign delegations.
Tied up with Israeli tech firm Techion in April 2015 to develop anti-cancer drugs based on the work of scientists like Nobel winner Aaron Ciechanover.
50 | Yoga Guru
The money asana
Because his Rs 5,000-crore Patanjali Ayurved has a presence in over 15,000 stores across India, selling everything from desi ghee to shampoo, and has become one of the top spenders on television advertising, Rs 300 crore in three months, beating HUL and Cadbury.
Because the Modi cabinet has a hotline to him and he is playing a crucial role in the Sangh Parivar’s agenda by setting up 500 Vedic schools across India. Will also set up a university near Delhi.
Starts all his conversations with ‘Om’.
70 | IT legend
Because he has risen much above his stature as a successful businessman by becoming India’s biggest corporate giver for a third year in a row, donating Rs 27,514 crore to charity in 2015; because his investment arm, Premji Invest, has funded 50-plus start-up firms; because his views wield considerable influence in government and society.
Because he has gone beyond IT and acquired US-based HealthPlan Services, securities processing firm Viteos of the US and German software service provider Cellent AG.
Because he has set high standards of corporate governance, with US-based Ethisphere Institutenaming Wipro World’s Most Ethical Company in 2015, for the fourth successive year.
59 | Industrialist
Because the eighth richest Indian, with a net worth of $7 billion, runs Bharti Airtel, the world’s third largest global telecommunications company, with 350 million customers.
Because his is the most definitive voice on the telecom industry in India and is now emerging as the key driver on internet for all.
Because he is betting big on solar power in India,investing $20 billion with SoftBank Group’s Masayoshi Son and Foxconn Technology’s Terry Gou.
Keeps getting asked about call drops at parties.
Is investing $3.5 billion this year for other services, including 4G, to meet Reliance Jio challenge.
58 | Media baron
Because under his watch, the $1.5 billion, 175-year-old Bennett, Coleman and Co, India’s largest media conglomerate, posted its highest-ever income of Rs 8,778 crore in 2015; its lagship, The Times of India, has the largest circulation for any English-language newspaper in the world, with 55 editions and average sales of over 33 lakh; its digital venture, Times Internet, is one of the largest in the country with over 130 million users and 1 billion visits per month; and with Times Now and ET Now, it is in pole position in English news and business channels.
Because the company has been able to change deftly with the times, with each brand in the empire articulating a different and sometimes contradictory political point of view, in a new kind of federalism.
Because new acquisition the Times Internet-owned Cricbuzz.com became the exclusive licencee for digital video clip rights for the US and Canada for all ICC events for four years in February 2016.
He has become the public face of the group, often taking definitive stands on Twitter, from demanding the repeal of the sedition law to saying that the US is aiding and abetting terrorism by supplying F16 jets to Pakistan.
56 | Banker
Because his is the most respected voice among bankers and he is often called upon by the government for advice, be it as a member of the high-level committee on financing infrastructure or on SEBI’s primary market advisory committee.
Because in one $2.4 billion all-stock deal in April 2013, he catapulted Kotak Mahindra Bank to India’s fourth-largest private sector lender by merging with ING Vysya Bank, creating a combined balance sheet of around Rs 2 lakh crore and a network of 1,260 branches.
34 | Entrepreneurs
Because their e-commerce company, Flipkart, valued at over $15 billion, is India’s No. 1, with a market share of 45 per cent-the combined market share of Snapdeal, Amazon and Paytm.
Because the e-tailer is still one of the biggest bets for investors in the start-up space, attracting $750 million in funds in 2015.
Because Flipkart has leveraged the power of the mobile phone to boost sales, with the firm becoming India’s first app to cross 50 million installations on Google Play Store.
Because it’s all about innovations, such as the new partnership between its logistics arm, EKart with the famed dabbawalas of Mumbai to deliver products to customers.
Sachin is a gaming enthusiast and Binny loves reading, his favourite authors being Salman Rushdie and Stieg Larsson.
73 | Actor
The Busy B
Because the veteran star can still wow audiences, whether as the grumpy old constipated man in Piku or toilet rapper in Shamitabh.
Because with 19.6 millionTwitter followers, he is 57th globally, highest from India.
Because he is still India’s most wanted envoy of good causes, from Incredible India to Save the Tiger.
Because his presence is valued even on small screen, whether it is promoting the Pro Kabaddi League or celebrating the common man’s achievements in the talk show Aaj Ki Raat Hai Zindagi.
70 | Technopreneur
Because India’s sixth richest person, with a net worth of $12.9 billion,according to Forbes, is preparing for the US listing of the $17 billion HCL Technologies.
Because he has committed a billion dollars towards philanthropy, and afterputting India on the global technology map, he is setting up institutions of excellence in education and healthcare, from Shiv Nadar University to a $500 million fund with tech veteran Sanjay Kalra to buy out mature US healthcare tech firms and invest in start-ups.
Borrowed from former CEO of Intel Corporation Andy Grove, “Only the paranoid survive.”
HCL Technologies is likely to acquire the Godrej-owned IT consulting company Geometric, valued at $200 million.
54 | Aviator
Because Indigo is the largest airline by market share, a staggering 73.2 per cent in December 2015, and its Rs 3,018 crore IPO, the biggest in three years, was oversubscribed by 3.63 times.
Because the airline posted a record profit of Rs 1,304 crore in 2015.
Because he has ordered 250 Airbus A320neo aircraft, the biggest ever deal for the European aeroplane maker; an IndiGo plane takes off every two seconds, 700-odd flights every day.
Often spotted in North Block; recently threatened to take the government to court over the draft civil aviation policy, which he and other private airlines allege benefits the two new ones.
65 | Media Baron
Because as owner of India’s oldest private broadcaster, he has firmly aligned himself with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who released his biography at his residence in the company of politicians from across the spectrum, from Mulayam Singh Yadav to Sushilkumar Shinde.
Because despite controversy around his news brands, his influence remainsundiminished-959 million viewers in 169 countries watch Zee channels, two launched in Africa and one in Indonesia in 2015.
Because besides media, his Essel empire is spread over sectors such as technology,packaging, infrastructure, education, precious metals, financial services and lifestyle.
Because after experimenting with Zee Zindagi which beams Pakistani soaps and Zee Theatre which airs theatre premieres, he is betting big globally with a free-to-air Bollywood channel for the German market.
Because he now wants to feed the 'digital generation’ with the launch of Mashable India, a desi version of the US-based digital news publication.
He practises Vipassana regularly which he says has taught him equanimity.
76 | BJP leader
Because the 2G scam whistle-blower rose from political wilderness to become the NDA’s trump card, with his dogged pursuit of explosive cases that will play out in the courts in 2016: from dragging Sonia and Rahul Gandhi to court in the National Herald case to the Ram Janmabhoomi movement case.
Because from an outcast within the BJP for his crusade against Jayalalithaa last May, he has become the man with a roadmap for the party after he met DMDK leader Vijayakanth in 2015 and tweeted about a BJP-DMDK-DMK alliance for the state assembly polls this year.
Because he has emerged as the Donald Trump of Indian politics. For him, Rahul Gandhi is “a commission agent”, Arvind Kejriwal “420 Md Bin Tughlak”, RBI chief Raghuram Rajan an “IMF agent”, all homosexuals “genetically handicapped”.
Vijay Shekhar Sharma
37 | Innovator
Because he is changing the way Indians are spending, with 100 million wallets and counting, moving India towards a cashless society.
Because the world’s biggest online e-commerce company, Alibaba, has come onboard as a strategic investor, putting in $680 million, taking Paytm’s valuation to $3 billion.
Because he is a poster boy for Start Up India and one of the most defining voices on its policy changes.
39 | Election strategist
Because he scripted the biggest political victory of 2015, after unifying the unlikely couple of Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad Yadav to politically destroy the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duo in Bihar and stymie the Modi wave.
Because he is today India’s most sought after election strategist, with a number of present and former CMs, from Mamata Banerjee to Tarun Gogoi, Oommen Chandy to Amarinder Singh, waiting to hire him.
Because though he neither draws a salary nor avails any state benefits as the equivalent of a cabinet minister in Bihar, yet his word still carries weight in government, whether in picking candidates or choosing ministers.
Back to his roots
The former UN public health specialist came to work pro bono for Narendra Modi in 2011. After 2014, he went to Bihar, where his father once served as a doctor. Hasn’t used a laptop in over four years now. Isn’t on FB either.
56 | Industrialist
Because he helped defrost relations between prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi.
Because his company JSW Steel became the largest steel manufacturer in India by revenue in 2015, with net sales of Rs 52,971 crore, pipping public sector SAIL.
Because he is now driving the cement and energy businesses at the $18 billion JSW Group by acquiring Jaypee’s hydro units for Rs 9,000 crore and aiming to pick up Lafarge’s India assets.
The fitness enthusiast is an avid squash player and takes part in the Mumbai marathon every year.
54 | CEO, Star India
Because he spearheaded Star India’s entry into mobile videoentertainment with Hotstar, an app which has 50 million downloads since its February 2015 launch.
Because he’s consolidating the group’s presence in the south,entering the Telugu market bybuying Maa TV’s four channels.
Because Star India has been a dominant force in small screen entertainment under his leadership, with 52 channels on air, over 650 million viewers a month and a turnover of around Rs 8,500 crore.
Favourite of the Murdochs, Rupert and James, he was the point person behind his boss’s high-profile interaction with PM Narendra Modi in New York last year.
67 | RSS ideologue
Because he is one of the most powerful advisors of the government, especially on economic matters, and is said to have provided crucial inputs for this Budget.
Because the savvy chartered accountant-cum-commentator, privy to the secrets of some of BJP’s biggest opponents, regularly exposes scams.
Because as co-convenor of the RSS-backed Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, he has a deep understanding of the economy.
52 | Businesswoman
The queen bee
Because she rules Mumbai society with a velvet glove,cutting across sport, business and Bollywood, deftly juggling different roles, be it nurturing the ISL football fiesta, IPL franchise Mumbai Indians, work at the Reliance Foundation, the H.N. Reliance Foundation Hospital, or co-chairing Jio MAMI, which hosted the 17th Mumbai Film Festival in 2015.
Because her Reliance Foundation is the nerve centre of RIL’s social initiatives, touching the lives of more than four million people across more than 5,500 villages and urban locations in India.
Because “Nita Bhabhi” chooses her public appearances with care, whether it is to endorse the opening of the Nasreen Mohamedi retrospective at the Met Breuer in New York or to speak at Tina Brown’s Women in the World summit in Delhi.
She is the most high-profile hostess in Mumbai, throwing frequent parties for friends, be it to celebrate power birthdays or victories of her cricket team.
She has brought a 'no walls, no barricades’ culture into RIL headquarters in Mumbai for seamless idea exchange between the sections under her watch: Mumbai Indians, Indian Super League and the fashion and entertainment segments.
50 | Actor
Because with Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Prem Ratan Dhan Payo having collectively earned over Rs 500 crore at the box office, he is the bankable star whom audiences can’t have enough of, and a one-man blockbuster machine for producers and distributors.
Because when the Mumbai sessions court found him guilty in the 2002 hit-and-run case, he secured the quickest bail ever, proving that with great wealth comes great power.
Because he ruled the small screen too, hosting Bigg Boss, and earning a reported Rs 6-8 crore for each episode.
Because his clothing brand Being Human is one of thefastest growing labels, with retail revenue of Rs 300 crore, expanding in 2016 with two new lines and stores in Mauritius and France.
Evidence of Immortality
Likes to cut his nails using a blade
67 | Rajya Sabha MP
Because he is a key link within the NDA conveying concerns of allies-his own party Shiromani Akali Dal, N. Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party, and now also Uddhav Thackeray and his often-so-unhappy Shiv Sena-to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP; he remains the NDA’s conscience-keeper, unfailingly speaking up against rabble-rousers.
Because as a former prime minister’s son, he has the rare ability to forge new friendships and retain old political associations across party lines; in his third consecutive term in the Rajya Sabha, his presence is critical to bringing reluctant allies on board on 'ticklish bills’.
Because he is willing to accept a well-reasoned argument from a politicalopponent and hopes to employ the considerable goodwill he enjoys in Parliament to help build consensus on the stalled GST Bill. Politics is not just another job for him.
He can’t stand a mess and is fastidious to a fault, given to constantly rearranging things, driving his wife up the wall.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
59 | Spiritual leader
Because he is increasingly visible on the world stage, whether it is celebrating International Yoga Day on Times Square, brokering peace between the Colombian government and guerrilla movement FARC during a visit to Cuba, or being asked by the Nepal government to request the NDA government to resolve the diplomatic crisis between the two countries.
Because he managed to push through an ambitious butcontroversial World Culture Festival on the Yamuna river bed, getting permission from the DDA despite National Green Tribunal opposing the event for violation of ecological norms.
Powers of persuasion
He has over 300 million followers in 151 countries, including celebrities like Kamal Hassan, Dia Mirza and Lara Dutta.
Sri Sri Ayurveda retails its ayurvedic gels, powders and medicines across 500-plus stores and several websites, attracting 155 million customers in over 206 countries.
Gita to Physics
By the time he was four, he could recite parts of the Bhagvad Gita, and was often found meditating. He has degrees in both Vedic literature and Physics.
27 | Cricketer
Because he is the premier youth icon in Indian sport-brash, in-your-face, and among the best batsmen in the world, taking over from M.S. Dhoni as the new torchbearer of Indian cricket, rivaling him in terms of fan base, endorsements and in BCCI’s power equations.
Because he took over the reins of the Indian team at a difficult time in the middle of the Test series in Australia and responded by scoring four centuries on the tour-his aggregate of 692 runs is the highest by an Indian batsman in a series Down Under and he then inspired the Indian team to a stunning 3-0 home Test series victory against South Africa.
59 | Chairman, India TV
Because the three most powerful politicians in India-Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, who all call him Panditji-have been his long-time friends, often seeking his political counsel.
Because the longest running chat show on Indian television is the influential Aap Ki Adalat, now in its 22nd year, which he continues to host.
He loves his home theatre system and his Cavalli suits.
69 | Business executive
Because he is one of India’s most astute business professionals, transforming ITC from a primarily tobacco major into a hospitality and foods giant deriving over 60 per cent of revenue in 2015 from non-tobacco business-crossing $1 billion in turnover for foods.
Because he is overseeing a huge expansion at his company, involving 65 projects, 20 factories for FMCG products and an investment of over Rs 25,000 crore.
Because he has built some of India’s finest hotels, ITC Grand Bharat in Manesar and ITC Grand Chola in Chennai being the latest offerings.
India’s longest-serving CEO (since 1996) has the mandate to choose his own successor. Is grooming a few professionals in the company to step into his shoes when he retires in '17.
70 | Surgeon and Entrepreneur
Because he is one of India’s best known cardiac surgeons and doctor on call for most VIP patients, from Mulayam Singh Yadav to Raman Singh. A certain floor at Medanta, The Medicity, Gurgaon, which he founded, may be mistaken for Raisina Hill, chock-a-block with politician patients as it is.
Because he has been a strident voice among health leaders lobbying to develop a blueprint for health for all, resulting in the Universal Health Coverage issued for the first time in Budget 2016.
Because he is rolling out a new model of public-private partnership in healthcare, opening a 600-bed Medanta super-speciality hospital in Bihar, which will cater to 25 per cent BPL patients.
60 | Advertising professional
King of the jingle
Because he is one of Narendra Modi’s go-to guys for communications counsel, whether it is devising GujaratTourism ads or spearheading BJP’s 2014 campaign withslogans like 'Ab Ki Baar, Modi Sarkar’, 'Achhe Din Aane Wale Hain’, 200 commercials, 1,000 print ads and 150 radio spots.
Because he knows how to sell India innovatively,conceptualising Incredible India, and the recent Rajasthan Tourism ads.
Because he is the grand-daddy of Indian advertising, having mentored professionals such as Prasoon Joshi and Sonal Dabral, and created some of India’s most memorablecommercials, from Fevicol’s latest Dahi Handi ad to Vodafone’s ZooZoos.
Spot for self-discovery
His terrace in Mumbai and his home in Goa
“People should be satisfied in 60 seconds.”
59 | Lawyer
Class action hero
Because he continues to be the man who wields the formidable PIL weapon giving voice to the voiceless. Last August, he filed one over irregularities in the Delhi Judicial Services Examination and another in March this year which got the Supreme Court to order an inquiry into the unruly lawyers at the Patiala House courts, who attacked Jawarharlal Nehru University students’ union president Kanhaiya.
Because the Swaraj Abhiyan movement which he launched with Yogendra Yadav after their expulsion from the Aam Aadmi Party could be the nucleus of a new anti-corruption movement.
Because the Supreme Court responded to his petition on February 16 and asked the RBI to furnish a list of firms which have defaulted on bank loans.
33 | Actor
Because she became the first Indian actor to land aleading role in an American TV series with Quantico, and is all set to score on the Hollywood big screen as a baddie in a retread of the iconic Baywatch.
Because even the government cannot ignore her rise, honouring her with a Padma Shri and appointing her the ambassador of the Incredible India campaign.
Because the model-turned-actress-singer now dons the hat of a producer-her banner, Purple Pebble Pictures, will release three regional films in Marathi, Punjabi and Bhojpuri in 2016.
Mahendra Mohan Gupta
75 and 53 | Mediapersons
Because with 12 titles across 15 states in five languages, Jagran Prakashan is the country’s largest print media group, with a total readership of 68 million, and the flagship daily, Dainik Jagran, wielding huge influence over the Hindi heartland.
Because the additional 30 million unique visitors across 11 portals run by Jagran New Media make it among the country’s top digital media platforms, taking the group’s reach to over 100 million.
Because the Jagran group made a foray into the radio space by acquiring FM channel Radio City 91.1 in 2015.
42 | Journalist
Because his aggressive, hypernationalist, opinionated, high-decibel style has not only redefined TV news presentation, but also polarised public opinion on issues such as JNU protests and the Ishrat Jahan encounter.
Because he taps into middle-class anger, whether it is #MallyaMustPay or women’s right to enter temples. Although the English news market is minuscule, with 0.04 per cent of the total TV viewership, he is the talk of the town.
Because he is the man everyone, including fellow broadcasters, love to emulate or hate; because he wears an online 'boycott Arnab campaign’ as a badge of honour and ignores the many memes and mimics he has spawned.
He is a diehard Apple fan and owns an iPhone and iWatch, but drives an 11-year-old Toyota Corolla. He also owns seven pairs of spectacles, all of the same design.
Shah Rukh Khan
50 | Actor
Because he is Bollywood’s ace marketer, managing to make even a sub-par film like Dilwale one of the biggest films of 2015 not just in India but also overseas, where it collected over Rs 170 crore.
Because his 18.1 million Twitter following is so geographically diverse that when he posted a selfie with former One Direction member Zayn Malik, it became the golden tweet of 2015, viewed over 19 million times.
Because his quick wit showed in the speech he gave while receiving an honorary doctorate at the University of Edinburgh.
Because he is King Khan when it comes to endorsements and acquisitions, adding a stake in the Trinidad and Tobago cricket franchise in the Caribbean Premier League.
It’s a pivotal year with two releases-Fan and Raees. Also stars opposite Alia Bhatt in Gauri Shinde’s second film.
48 | CEO, Infosys
Because as the first person in Infosys's35-year history brought in to lead from outside, he scripted a successful turnaround for the company, struggling with talent haemorrhage and slowing revenue to post better-than-expected 6.6 per cent growth in net profit in the December 2015 quarter, its strongest period of growth.
Because as India’s second largest software exporter revives, the company board has extended his tenure as chief executive for another two years to 2021 as a mark of its confidence in his ability to restore Infosys to its former standing.
He prompted staff to think of efficient ways of completing projects through 'design thinking’ workshops, helping save over $1 billion in 2015 for clients and saving about 1,100 man hours worth of work.
54 | CEO, ICICI Bank
Cheques and balances
Because she continues to be the key driver of India’s largest private sector bank, with ICICI Bank being one of the few companies in India to have reported annual profits of over Rs 10,000 crore in what has been an otherwise dismal year for the banking sector.
Because she continues to inspire women in India and outside making 'having it all’ seem possible; as the deputy chairperson of the Indian Banks Association and president of the International Monetary Conference, she enjoys huge clout and her inputs are sought on banking policies.
Because ICICI Bank has been speeding up its digital drive-from three million downloads of its digital wallets to mobile transaction ssurpassing physical transactions, the bank has innovated in digital banking products.
Because half of ICICI’s total branches are now in rural, semi-urban areas and 462 full service branches in previously unbanked villages.
Manages to watch every new Bollywood film in the first week of release.
Has a formidable collection, from Bandhanis to Paithanis.
60 | Jurist
Because he won a series of resounding victories in the courts in 2015 against tax terrorism in India; he is appearing in the International Court of Justice for India in a case of Marshall Islands challenging the country’s nuclear programmes; has won several awards for his international arbitrations work.
Because he was India’s most-in-demand mediator, whether it was the Modi government request that he become attorney-general (politely refused), or the Supreme Court directive that he be amicus curiae as pollution became a big legal issue.
Dabangg fans were aflutter after he appeared in the Bombay High Court and got actor Salman Khan bail in 10 minutes in the 2002 hit-and-run case.
61 | Actor
Because he’s now one of the most influential cultural voices, speaking up against the liberals in the debate on intolerance, defending the prime minister and the government and insisting that India remains a tolerant nation.
Because with 6.34 million followers on Twitter, whether it is the rights of Kashmiri Pandits or his grievance on being denied a visa by Pakistan, he gets himself heard and gets everybody talking.
The world is my stage
Teams up with Neeraj Pandey for the fourth time in Dhoni: The Untold Story. And reprises his role in season two of the Wachowskis’ Netflix series, Sense8, and in the film, The Headhunter’s Calling.
86 | Lawyer
Because he led a battery of top lawyers to argue JNUSU leader Kanhaiya Kumar’s bail plea in the Supreme Court pro bono, rising in defence of the right of the citizen to dissent and have a fair trial, clearly setting out what amounts to sedition and what does not.
Because he crusaded for one of the biggest free speech judgements in the last 50 years in India, arguing pro bono in a case that led to the landmark apex court judgement striking down Section 66 of the IT Act.
Because he battled for the citizen’s right to privacy in the Supreme Court, while the State questioned the existence of such a right, leading it to making the Unique Identification Number or the Aadhar card voluntary.
Jazz & jurisprudence
The Sorabjee bungalow in Mumbai is filled with jazz; a lover of Blues, he understands its fundamentals well. It also helps him forge unexpected camaraderie, as with Bill Clinton.
22 | E-hotelier
Because he’s a youth icon in the start-up space, and OYO Rooms, which has shaken up the hotel segment with over 50,000 rooms across 4,500 properties in 170 cities, is valued at $400 million with close to 90 per cent market share among online hotel aggregators.
Because OYO is on a list of the next 50 companies tipped to enter the coveted start-up unicorn club (billion-dollar companies); Forbes named him in its 30-Under-30 list in the consumer tech sector in 2015; the company got $125 million in funds in 2015.
Big bang theory
A computer geek at heart, he still loves coding. Feels that one should stay away from family when working on a start-up, for “they make life difficult”.
50 | Actor
Because he is not afraid of using his fame to speak truth to power, even though it can get him into trouble, as it did when he spoke of his family’s rising sense of fear and insecurity in the climate of intolerance in the country.
Because despite losing favour with the Centre, he still enjoys a reputation as one of Bollywood’s best informed and most credible actors.
Because his last release PK not only set a box office record in theindustry with its Rs 324 crore earnings but also made waves internationally, including in China, where it had a grand premiere in May 2015.
Because he puts his money where his mouth is, with the BJP-led Maharashtra government joining hands with his Paani Foundation for a Jal Yukt Shivir, which aims to provide water to every village in the state and has the who’s who of India, from Mukesh Ambani to Sachin Tendulkar, pitching in.
Line it up
Loves board games. Plays with everybody, from his children Junaid and Ira to his manger and films’ assistant directors. Has a collection of them. So big a deal is it that almost every table at his Panchgani home is set with one.
Devi Prasad Shetty
62 | Cardiac surgeon
Because his Narayana Hrudalaya multi-specialty and super specialty hospitals, set up in 1991 with 31 hospitals in 19 cities and towns, is the third major hospital group to go public, notching up a value of $1 billion on its stock market debut.
Because by making advancedt echnology-backed health care affordable, he has made NH the second-largest in bed count, its 5,442 way ahead of Apollo’s 925 beds.
61 | Industrialist
Wheel of fortune
Because he is one of the most prominent voices from industry on policy deliberations; his Hero MotorCorp sold a record 6.63 million two-wheelers in the financial year 2015-its highest ever annual sales; its products are now available in 26 countries.
Because Hero MotorCorp continues to be the market leader in two-wheelers with the total turnover for the April-December 2015 period standing at an impressive Rs 21,087 crore.
Set up its first overseas manufacturing facility in September 2015 in Colombia, the first Indian two-wheeler company to set up a manufacturing facility in Latin America.
30 | Actor
Because she was Bollywood’s most successful female actor in 2015, with Piku, Tamasha and Bajirao Mastani collectively grossing Rs 315 crore and winning her a host of awards; she is also the most bankable model for FMCG goods, currently endorsing 16 brands, the most by an actor in Bollywood.
Because she has shown courage in shining the light on the dark topic of depression, and has even set up a foundation that encourages people to seek help and medication.
Hollywood beckons as she plays the lead opposite Vin Diesel in xXx: The Return of Xander Cage. Directed by D.J. Caruso of Disturbia fame, the next film in the xXx franchise should put her on a global pedestal.
28 | Student
Because he has emerged as a symbol around which students are fighting against the encroachment on their autonomy by the government.
Because he has single-handedly democratised the chant Azaadi, freeing it from the clutches of Kashmiri separatists and using it to unite Dalits, backwards, minorities and the Left.
Because he has brought the nationalism debate to the front and centre, uniting the Kisan and the Jawan in the narrative against the ruling classes.
Enter, stage left
Loves theatre and was associated with the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) during his school days in Begusarai, Bihar.
41 | Academic
Because his India Foundation, which the ex-investment banker founded in 2009, is a forum for the political Right and now among India’s most influential think-tanks.
Because he is Ram Madhav’s co-planner for the hugely successful diaspora events in the US and UK which showcased Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Because his annual Counter Terror Conference held in Jaipur is the must-attend event for all intelligence and security policy wonks.