World’s Most Powerful People

November 14, 2009

Forbes, the magazine famous for compiling lists of the world’s best/most/biggest/richest people/organizations just gave us a new compilation.

The world’s most powerful people.

In compiling our first ranking of the World’s Most Powerful People, we wrestled with these questions-and many more-before deciding to define power by four dimensions. First, do they have influence over lots of other people? Do they control relatively large financial resources compared with their peers? Are they powerful in multiple spheres?

The top choice seems obvious enough. The man who won a Nobel peace prize without really achieving anything concrete; the man who captured the world’s imagination; the president of the United States (and the master of the universe). Barrack Obama. Following him are Chinese premier Hu Jintao and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Four Indians feature on this distinguished list of 67 people, one per 100 million people on the planet. Which means that only 400 million Indians are represented. (The others are poor enough to not matter.)

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh comes in at 36. Dalai Lama is 39.

Soft-spoken Sikh economist won landslide re-election victory despite sharp slowdown, poverty and non-Hindu faith. Credited with transforming India’s quasi-socialist economy into world’s second-fastest-growing. As finance minister (1991-1996), abolished cumbersome “Licence Raj” requirements and opened up India to foreign investors and outsourcing. From the “fences make good neighbors” file: “We all know the epicenter of terrorism in the world today is Pakistan.” Has nuclear arsenal at disposal. [link]

Mukesh Ambani is 44. Lakshmi Mittal is 55. Ratan Tata is 59. French president Sarkozy comes in at a  relatively lowly 56. Funnily enough, there is no Sonia Gandhi in the list. Dawood Ibrahim is. As is Osama bin Laden.

It’s very hard to quantify the power that people hold in contemporary world, but this list beats me. How is the president of Brazil more important than the president of France? How is the CEO of Walmart more powerful than these two heads of state? How is the CEO of TelMex more important than the CEO of Walmart? How are the Google founders more powerful than the Pope!?

Is this list a fascinating reflection of changing world dynamics where industrialists, politicians, and drug traffickers hold equal power over the masses? Or is it just a bad attempt at picking the world’s most important people?


11 Responses to “ World’s Most Powerful People ”

  1. Anand Bala on November 14, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    Forbes is a fairly biased publication. They represent a largely western view of the world. This stands-out and is well reflected in their listing. I truly doubt if some of these folks have the influence they claim.
    Your questions around how corporate honchos are more important has an obvious answer.
    Forbes is part of a media publishing house that makes it’s money on advertising revenue. Some of the names in the list are a part of a back scratching exercise for ad revenue. If you wanted a case study on manufactured consent - forbes leads the list of all-time greats.

    BTW - great post.


  2. Kavi on November 14, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    Well, for a long time, commerce has been determining power. If the GDP of Norway is the about 2 % of Microsoft earnings, well, there is a power equation that gets built in there. Doesnt it !

    The other questions of why Brazil won over France is something interesting to take note of. And that too with Carla Bruni on France’s side.

    Wait a minute…was it because of that…? !! :)

  3. Vinod Sharma on November 14, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    I agree with your assessment of this list. In fact I will not be surprised if Dawood’s name too was “sponsored”. It is time we stopped paying attention to these ridiculous lists.

  4. amlistening on November 15, 2009 at 11:09 am

    Well some believe that world politics is ruled by coporates so am not surprised. BTW Sonia Gandhi not on the list at all proves that results are rigged. I remember last time somewhere she was shown priority over MMSingh, Congress was hit with blames of pupet PM.

  5. geetika on November 16, 2009 at 2:03 am

    I dunno, coz somewhere in their little universe where the list was derived from, more people believe in Google than those who do in Jesus?
    It wouldn’t surprise me if that was true, too.

  6. Munish on November 16, 2009 at 11:14 am

    money talks… corporate honchos have more money than a lot of countries… also the list is usually very US dominated.

  7. amreekandesi on November 19, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    @Anand - Welcome to Amreekandesi, and thanks for the appreciation! Good point you raise about the corporate connections leading to potential biases.

    @Kavi - :)

    @Vinod - Yes, this does seem to be a strange compilation.

    @Amlistening - Exactly. Sonia is widely believed to be the real leader of the Congress Govt, more powerful than our PM.

    @Geetika - More people believe in Google than Jesus, but people wont change the way they live if Larry Page asked them to. On the other hand, if the Pope were to ask Christians to stop smoking, one industry would incur heavy losses. That’s power.

    @Munish - Yups…thats the way the world goes!

  8. abhay lokre on November 24, 2009 at 11:20 am

    Kindly do see my interpretation of the list.

  9. Benji on November 28, 2009 at 3:06 am

    That’s a very interesting article. Forbes clearly has some kind of a slant, but it’s very interesting to see how they’ve arranged the list. Not what I would have expected.

  10. R.D.B. on December 28, 2009 at 4:36 am

    “Is this list a fascinating reflection of changing world dynamics where industrialists, politicians, and drug traffickers hold equal power over the masses?” .. :)
    nice post AD

  11. Jdarmacrocosmic on December 29, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    Pope Benedict XVI has the 11th ranking because of his brutal conversion practice in many third world countries as in India as a long traditional tactics of Popes. Some called it the terrorism to the diversity of indigenous cultures. He poured billions of Euros to convert people with money brainwashing them “Indigenous culture is evil”. Conversion has become illegal in India but he continues to do it by encouraging billions to be poured in and used in converting purposes. He must be prosecuted as a crime offender, the worst cultural terrorist. Indian Congress gets a lot of political benefits from these practices so it is supporting such illigal activities indirectly and making Indian culture to deteriorate. This should come in to attention of international eyes and media. and it has to be largely criticized and condemned.

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