No, I've not crossed over to the BJP. My information comes from a source much valued by the Prime Minister himself – the business magazine Forbes.
Forbes' first ever list of the World's Most Powerful People has only 67 slots - one for every 100 million people on the planet. And Manmohan Singh, at #36, is in the bottom half of the list. (In the NAM era, the Indian Prime Minister was ALWAYS at the top of the heap.)
Indeed, he ranks way below sundry central bankers, software developers, investment bankers, CEOs of Wal-Mart, GE, Berkshire, ExxonMobil and Toyota, Wall Street brokers, a football club owner, a telecom mogul, Rupert Murdoch, the mayor of New York, and even the propaganda chief of the Communist Party of China!
Saving India the blushes, Manmohan Singh has fortunately managed to beat Osama bin Laden, who's just one step behind him, by a whisker. (Imagine the fun if the rankings were the other way round!) Indeed, it's a telling comment from the oracles at Forbes that Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and Tenzin Gyato, aka the Dalai Lama, are snapping at Bin Laden's heels at numbers 38 and 39.
And, hey, at #50, Dawood Ibrahim, described as the CEO of D-Company Inc. (you have to be a CEO in ANY Forbes' List) hasn't done too badly either. In fact, he's ahead of Laxmi Mittal AND Ratan Tata!
Nevertheless, along with Mukesh Ambani, Laxmi Mittal and Ratan Tata, South Asia has done reasonably well. So what if the “most powerful” are actually feeding on crumbs.
The criterion for selection, according to the oracles at Forbes was quite straightforward.
“First, we asked, does the person have influence over lots of other people?... Then we assessed the financial resources controlled by these individuals. Are they relatively large compared with their peers? For heads of state we used GDP, while for CEOs, we looked at a composite ranking of market capitalization, profits, assets and revenues...Next we determined if they are powerful in multiple spheres... Lastly, we insisted that our choices actively use their power...
There are only 67 slots on our list - one for every 100 million people on the planet - so being powerful in just one area is not enough to guarantee a spot. Our picks project their influence in myriad ways...
To calculate the final rankings, five Forbes senior editors ranked all of our candidates in each of these four dimensions of power. Those individual rankings were averaged into a composite score, which determined who placed above (or below) whom...”
Well, the oracles have spoken. And here's why these worthies from South Asia made it to the coveted List.
#36 Manmohan Singh: Has nuclear arsenal at disposal.
#37 Osama bin Laden: Casus belli of two US-lead wars costing over $1 trillion.
#38 Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani: (Though) less powerful than bin Laden - can't find him in his own country - still has keys to Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.
#39 Tenzin Gyatso aka Dalai Lama: Tibetan exile keeps China honest.
#44 Mukesh Ambani: Busy building world's first $1 billion home.
#50 Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar: As boss of Mumbai-based organized crime syndicate D-Company, reputedly oversees international drug trafficking, counterfeiting, weapons smuggling.
#55 Laxmi Mittal: Romance with former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair exposed in 2002 'Garbagegate', when Mittal reportedly sought Blair's help in cash-for-influence bid for Romanian state steel mills.
#59 Ratan Tata: Calls Nano "The People's Car"; in nation of a billion, environmentalists call it eco-disaster.
Then there's an India List (total 7, i.e. one for every 150 million) compiled by Forbes India editor Indrajit Gupta listing the Most Powerful Indians. Sorry, No 'Paa', SRK, Tendulkar, Katz, Mayawati, Advani, Pawar etc.
Here are the 'Magnificent Seven' and why they matter
#1 Sonia Gandhi: The most powerful Indian is an enigmatic woman of Italian origin. Her command over the Congress, India's ruling party, is total.
#2 Manmohan Singh: Indians trust (him) to do the right thing - whether it's economic reforms or the trade-off between development and social equity.
# 3 Nandan Nilekani: UID has fired the public imagination and drawn volunteers from all walks of life.
#4 Ratan Tata: Is India Inc's best brand ambassador.
#5 Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Offers (Art of Living) practitioners a tool to deal with urban angst.
#6 KG Balakrishnan: (The Chief Justice) ruled political parties cannot call for strikes that disrupt public life.
#7 Aamir Khan: (Surprise, surprise) As an actor and a filmmaker (he) has consistently demonstrated it is possible to break new ground in a business driven by clichés.
The Complete List
Ben S. Bernanke
Sergey Brin and Larry Page
Carlos Slim Helu
Michael T. Duke
Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al Saud
William Gates III
Pope Benedict XVI
Jeffrey R. Immelt
Laurence D. Fink
Lloyd C. Blankfein
Rex W. Tillerson
Kim Jong Il
Sheikh Ahmed bin Zayed al Nahyan
James S. Dimon
William H. Gross
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
Osama bin Laden
Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani
John Roberts Jr.
Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar
Joseph S. Blatter
Robert B. Zoellick
Mark John Thompson