hand-picks 100 Indians who have made a significant difference to our consciousness and society in the last
15 years, presented in no particular order...
1 RATAN TATA
For having made the Tata group’s revenues grow 12-fold since he took over as chairman from 1991; for taking the company global with acquisitions of Tetley, Land Rover and Corus; for the world’s cheapest car Nano which aimed at keeping families from dangerously piling onto scooters; and for his continuing philanthropy.
2 LATA MANGESHKAR
For her unmatched pantheon of songs in a career that has spanned over six and a half decades; for her truly god-gifted and limitless talent that turned films into superhits; for rising above rumours about her retirement; and for being the voice of actresses for generations.
3 ARAVIND ADIGA
For being the fourth Indian-born author to win the prestigious Booker Prize, with his debut novel, The White Tiger; for exploring ground realities (Last Man In Tower); and for not losing touch with the roots that make him what he is.
4 MAMATA BANERJEE
For holding the candle to light Bengal’s future; for being the face of change and a hero for millions in the state; for her sweeping victory in the recent polls; and for being closer to socialist ideals than socialists themselves.
5 NITA AMBANI
corporate role model
For being more than the first lady of Corporate India and untiringly switching hats with ease; for helming an international school and spearheading an IPL team; for being down to earth and one of the best hostesses; and for being refreshingly unapologetic about her wealth and status.
6 SACHIN TENDULKAR
For being a true gentleman player, respected by colleagues and competitors alike; for his passion that powers his untiring blade; for rewriting almost every batting record in the world of the willow; and for carrying the dreams of a countless Indians on his shoulders ever since he was 16.
7 MS DHONI
For his out-of-the box thinking that put Team India on top of the world and for bringing the World Cup back to the country after 28 years; for keeping calm in pressure-cooker situations; and for being one of the most valuable and stylish brands in the field of sports.
8 MADHURI DIXIT
For her unforgettable smile, her deft dancing and star quality that accelerated heartbeats; for being MF Husain’s most famous muse; for effortlessly embracing marriage and turning soccer mom across the seven seas; and for returning to wow audiences once again, as a judge in Jhalak Dikhla Jaa.
9 INDRA NOOYI
For successfully steering Pepsico for more than a decade; for continuing to find a presence in the power lists, year after year; for being one of the top CEOs in the world; and for showing elegance under pressure.
10 HRITHIK ROSHAN
For his sculpted body, sizzling on-screen moves, and performances that vary from being a Mughal emperor in Jodhaa Akbar to playing a paraplegic magician in Guzaarish; for being a style icon; and for inspiring countless Indians across the world to ‘Just Dance’.
11 SANJAY LEELA BHANSALI
For his cinematic vision that has splashed the silver screen with vibrant shades (Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Devdas) and also with avant-garde monochromatic textures (Black and Saawariya); for sensitively exploring the worlds of the differently challenged (Khamoshi and Guzaarish); and for his mastery over the medium.
12 NASEERUDDIN SHAH
For straddling the diverse genres of theatre, cinema and the small screen with equal impact; for guiding his theatre group Motley for over three decades, staging out-of-the-box productions and giving a platform to new talent; and for being an inspiring actor on the national and international arena.
13 SANIA MIRZA
For being the first Indian girl to break into the top 30 WTA rankings and win a Wimbledon doubles title; and for ignoring the criticisms and controversies that stalked her on-court attire and her off-court relationship to ace her heart’s desires.
14 BARKHA DUTT
brash television persona
For redefining news presentation with her instant analysis during and after Kargil; for not being cowed down by relentless criticism and a fatwah against her; and for constantly reminding India with We The People that there is much yet to be changed.
15 KAREENA KAPOOR
For her unassailable presence and popularity that transcend box office numbers; for her Kapoor genes that give her an unassailable star quality; for her bold career moves (Chameli, Omkara); for making Size Zero irresistible; and for being the brand world’s delight.
16 CYRUS BROACHA
For giving us the original ‘Bakra’; for being a stand-up comedian and humourist who is at his best when he takes on scandalous politicians on the gunpoint of his humour; and for having the ability to laugh at himself.
17 ASHWINI YARDI
fearless big boss
For adding colour to our television viewing experience with contemporary plots, socially driven soaps and nail-biting reality shows; and for venturing into sensitive territory and rocking the boat of established channels sans the jargon.
18 ELA BHATT
For being the ‘gentle revolutionary’ who founded the Self-Employed Women’s Association of India (SEWA) and changed the lives of countless women at the grassroots level; and for walking her own road as a risk-taking lawyer on a mission to exterminate the injustice that divides women.
19 TARUN TAHILIANI
emperor of bling
For his saris and bridal collections that are the toast of the world; for launching Ensemble, the first fashion boutique in India; for his Indian sensibility that is simultaneously international in appeal; for his exuberant colours and richly structured drapes; and for being a designer who delights in trying his hand at different creative genres.
20 OMAR ABDULLAH
For being the youngest chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir; for his passionate speech on the vote of confidence in Parliament on the nuclear issue; and for his commitment to solving issues that plague his state.
21 FARHAN AKHTAR
For singing, directing and acting in cinema; for bringing his radical outlook and spunk into film-making, thereby adding layers to the script and lyrics and for redefining Hindi cinema; for playing a cool TV host; and for looking delectable, on camera and off it too!
22 ANJOLIE ELA MENON
For being one of India’s foremost painters with her creations in collections worldwide; for her murals that reflect the ethos of the subcontinent; for the delicacy of her dreamlike, Madonna-esque women and the sheer textures of their diaphanous veils; for making windows the pathways to the soul; and for being awarded the Padma Shri for her body of work.
23 PRIYANKA CHOPRA
For her inimitable sex appeal and gorgeous smile; for her National Award-winning performance in Fashion; for daring to be different by essaying multiple persona in What’s Your Rashee and 7 Khoon Maaf; and for establishing herself as one of the leading contemporary actresses in the firmament.
24 SHOBHANA BHARTIA
tough media baroness
For leading her media company, HT Media, and revitalising a stodgy group; and for wielding great clout as a Rajya Sabha MP, all of which resulted in this daughter of the Birla family being included in the Financial Times’ list of top 50 women in business.
25 APJ ABDUL KALAM
For being the people’s President; for being the main reason behind India’s nuclear status in the global arena; for being a progressive mentor and visionary for budding scientists; and for his intellectual discourses that have ignited many minds.
26 AAMIR KHAN
For his cutting-edge vision that galvanised Indian cinema; for his Lagaan that made him walk the red carpet at the Oscars; for making dyslexia sufferers come out of the closet with Taare Zameen Par; for being a powerful brand most investors swear by; and for his acute marketing prowess.
27 SHIAMAK DAVAR
For changing the face of contemporary dance in India; for bringing in western forms of dances; for his Commonwealth Games shakes; and more recently, for making Tom Cruise dance to his steps in Mission Impossible 4.
28 AR RAHMAN
mozart of madras
For making cinema dance to a different drummer and revamping the traditions of Bollywood music; for being the evangelist of the sublime dialects from across the subcontinent; for bringing home the most sought after golden Oscars; and for making the world jive to the sounds of Jai ho.
29 SUNIDHI CHAUHAN
For singing over 2,000 songs in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Bengali and Gujarati films; for being the sensuous voice of our leading ladies on screen and carrying herself well off it; and for featuring in the new ‘India mix’ of Latin heartthrob Enrique Iglesias’s hit single Heartbeat.
30 ABHINAV BINDRA
For his Midas touch that won India’s first individual gold medal at the Beijing Olympic Games; for receiving the Arjuna Award at 17 years and being the youngest recipient of the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award at 18; and for his burning passion to shoot to win, always.
31 SHAH RUKH KHAN
For living a life dreams are made of; for wowing Indians and NRIs alike; for unabashedly showing his heart on screen and making ‘Rahul’ a loved name; for going back to school with kids on television; for showcasing his passion for cricket off the pitch; and for untiringly pushing his body to the limits.
32 JAIRAM RAMESH
For addressing bio-specific issues in the heat of day; for being the maverick minister, defying the establishment; and for his role in several economic reforms that have changed the face of modern India.
33 HEMANT OBEROI
For reinventing Indian cuisine as Grand Executive Chef of the Taj Mahal Palace and Hotel; for introducing tandoori salmon and original fusion delicacies to Indian diners, Prime Ministers, Presidents and Hollywood personalities like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie; and for his newly-published book, The Masala Art.
34 PRIYANKA GANDHI VADRA
For being a pro-active people’s person who effortlessly does things for them without being in politics; for choosing her family over politics and yet solidly supporting her mother and brother; and for believing that politics is not a strong pull, but that the people are.
35 KABIR BEDI
For being the only international actor who started out in Indian theatre and Bollywood, worked in Hollywood and became a star in Europe; for his lead role in the Italian-German-French TV series Sandokan; and for being bestowed with the prestigious title of Cavaliere (knight) of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.
36 SHOBHAA DE
For creating Page-3 with her society magazines; for entering our homes with her insightful newspaper column; for publishing the most books by any Indian author; and for being invited to become a publisher herself and being a diva at society events.
37 LEANDER PAES
For being a part of the most successful doubles pair (with Mahesh Bhupathi) the country has produced; for wearing his heart on his sleeve when he plays for the country; for winning India’s highest sporting honour, the Khel Ratna Award; and for still being a strong Olympic medal contender.
38 MARY KOM
For winning the Asian Cup women’s gold at Haiku, China, this year; for being the only boxer to have won a medal in each of the six World Championships; and for carrying the Queen’s Baton in the opening ceremony run for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, Delhi.
39 MUKESH AMBANI
For being first among Indian corporate equals; for chairing Reliance Industries, the largest private sector enterprise in India and a Fortune 500 company; for being ranked among the world’s most respected business leaders; and for following his passion by owning Mumbai Indians.
40 MEDHA PATKAR
For her feisty role in the Narmada Bachao Andolan; for winning numerous awards, including the Human Rights Defender’s Award from Amnesty International; and for continuing to fight about issues close to our heart, namely water.
41 VINEET BHATIA
For being the only Indian chef to receive two Michelin stars; for teaching the world through originality and example that authentic Indian food is more than just curry and for giving Indian cuisine the ‘haute’ treatment that it deserves.
42 KIRAN MAZUMDAR SHAW
For being the chairman and managing director of Biocon Limited; for having been awarded the prestigious Padma Shri and the Padma Bhushan; for featuring on lists of the most powerful people in the world; and for providing affordable healthcare with her Mazumdar Shaw Cancer Centre.
43 VIJAY MALLYA
For living life king-size in his private yachts and planes, throwing parties that everyone wants to be seen at; for bringing India onto the F1 racing circuit with his team, Force India; and for providing eye candy in the form of his personable son Sidhartha.
44 SANJNA KAPOOR
For nurturing her theatrical legacy; for keeping Prithvi Theatre and its festival under her protective eye; and for ensuring the stage is alive and active in a world taken over by myriad forms of e-entertainment.
45 ANIL KAPOOR
For straddling the distant worlds of Bollywood and Hollywood; for moving on from being Mr India to making a mark in Slumdog Millionaire; for grabbing eyeballs in the eighth season of 24; and for continuing to entertain audiences in his dual roles as producer and actor.
46 SHABANA AZMI
For being an award-winning actress on screen and a real-life activist off it; for unhesitatingly voicing her opinion on several social issues and fighting for the underdog without fear; for working for the needy in Mizwan; and for walking the ramp in style for Ritu Kumar with poise and panache.
47 SHEKHAR KAPUR
intense director- producer
For giving up working as an accountant to follow the dictates of his heart; and for giving us films like the path-breaking Bandit Queen and the historic biopics of Queen Elizabeth I which firmly put him on the Oscar map.
48 ARUNA ROY
For bringing transparency into our bureaucracy through the RTI Act, for initiating the feminist movement in Rajasthan, for her ability to look at the larger picture; and for addressing the interests of the middle-class and the poor in rural societies.
49 DEEPIKA PADUKONE
For level-headedly handling superstardom achieved in a short span of four years; for bagging a prized catch of films and national and international endorsements; for experimenting with roles; and looks and for being unabashedly forthright about her off-screen shenanigans.
50 SHASHI THAROOR
For being an award-winning author, a politician, a human rights activist; for being an internationally known speaker on India’s transformation and future prospects and for india’s influence on the world stage; and for his presence on Twitter with over 10 lakh followers, and counting.
51 KATRINA KAIF
For her blend of innocence and sex appeal that had the nation grooving to My name is Sheila; for having been voted the sexiest woman in Asia for three consecutive years; and for being the Indian face of Barbie doll and one of the most Googled actresses in the country.
woman on top
For being simple and beautiful and a powerhouse of talent that burned the silver screen in movies like Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge which is still running after 25 years; and for successfully making a comeback after marriage and motherhood and wowing the marquee.
53 FIRUZA PARIKH
For doing pioneering work in the field of assisted reproductive technology and providing countless couples with the gift of new life as exemplified in her work The Complete Guide To Being Pregnant; for trying to conquer infertility in a battle of a lifetime and; for addressing the biological issues of Kashmiri women.
54 ZAKIR HUSSAIN
For appealing to Indian and western audiences with his tabla-playing genius; for winning a Grammy; for experimenting with fusion styles; for playing with Beatle George Harrison, for giving us Shakti; and for making the Padma Shri and the Padma Bhushan sexy.
55 SUNITA MENON
For making her cards speak eloquently enough to shape the future of the many men and women who come to her for help; for dipping into the past and the future while unravelling matters of the heart; for being a modern-day soothsayer; and for having a celebrity clientele who swears by her dictums.
56 VASUNDHARA RAJE SCINDIA
57 ARUNDHATI ROY
For being one of the country’s most elegant leaders (royal in lineage and bearing) during her tenure as Union Minister of State, her term as chief minister of Rajasthan and today as leader of the Opposition in the state assembly; and for winning a UN award for her efforts towards self-empowerment of women.
For winning India’s first Booker with her free flow of words in The God Of Small Things; for continually being a vocal critic of the state despite facing umpteen defamation suits; for her provocative writing; and for walking with the comrades.
58 SAINA NEHWAL
For being the first Indian woman to reach the singles quarterfinals at the Olympics; for her kitty of awards and titles; for jumping to a career-best Number 2 which made her the top-ranked woman player in Indian badminton history; and for being an award-winning shuttler who knows how to play the game with élan.
59 EKTA KAPOOR
For graduating effortlessly to the big screen from the small screen, a domain where her ‘K’ serials ruled the channel and created superstars of actors; for diving into the dark worlds with bold, brash and in-your-face movies; and for unapologetically living life on her own terms.
60 CHETAN BHAGAT
For being the biggest selling English language novelist in Indian history; for being in Times’ 100 Most Influential People list; for being the voice of India’s rising entrepreneurial class; for starting the culture of campus novels in India; and for daring to take on Team Aamir Khan during the release of 3 Idiots.
61 VISWANATHAN ANAND
master of the game
For being the undisputed emperor of the checked board; for mastering different forms of the game; for his humility in the face of global success; for being currently the World Chess Champion, a title he bagged in 2007; and for showing that chess too is a cool sport.
62 LAKSHMI MENON
For braving the country’s prolonged fair-skin fixation to establish her enigmatic, mocha-tinted identity; for being the ‘face’ of the country on international runways, in top fashion campaigns and the prestigious Pirelli calendar; and for speaking volumes without saying a single word.
63 MANISH ARORA
For his perseverance to establish his design vision and extend his psychedelic realm outside national borders; for being the first designer in India to truly interpret ‘branding’; for juggling numerous collaborations, his own labels and the creative responsibilities at Paco Rabanne; and for stretching the word ‘Indian’ beyond heritage textile.
64 MANISH MALHOTRA
For giving stars a makeover on screen and turning them into stylish celluloid divas; for being the most bankable film costume stylist and delivering every time; for reigning over tinsel-town and mainstream runways alike; and for seeding fashion aspirations in the country’s hinterlands.
65 SONIA GANDHI
For being the Italian bahu who carved a niche for herself as a significant voice and decision-maker; for taking on the mantle of Congress President; and for winning hearts by joining the carnival of celebrations on the road after India’s World Cup win.
66 TARUN TEJPAL
For giving sting a new definition with Tehelka; for being listed amongst the world’s 50 most powerful communicators; for being at the forefront of change; and for his literary works – his debut offering The Alchemist Of Desire having been translated into more than a dozen languages.
67 KARAN JOHAR
For making cult movies and daring to sympathetically explore forbidden territory with Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna; for hosting and brewing up the TV show, Koffee With Karan; and for taking Hindi cinema to the world of NRIs with his colourful and highly emotional extravaganzas.
68 MILIND SOMAN
For being the most successful male model that the country has produced; for gracefully graduating from poster boy to thinking man and retaining his charisma over the decades and for making Alisha Chinai’s Made in India video immensely unforgettable.
69 SMRITI IRAANI
For making Tulsi a household name and showing how women can hold centre-stage in soap operas for a long time; for joining politics to do her bit; for currently being the president of the BJP’s women’s wing; and for raising her voice on issues like violence against women.
70 RANBIR KAPOOR
For being a complete scene-stealer with warm and endearing performances; for carrying forward the Kapoor legacy with panache; for holding his own against senior co-stars in ensemble projects; for maintaining a dignified position about his exes; and for so obviously being the pin-up superstar of Gen Next.
71 PRABUDDHA DASGUPTA
For pictures that are worth a thousand sighs; for capturing and portraying women of all ages beautifully; and for aesthetically crusading against the ‘moral policing’ in the country towards nudity in fashion and art.
72 SABYASACHI MUKHERJEE
For vanquishing the long-standing Delhi dominance in fashion; for his inspiring story of humble beginnings to the establishment of an empire; for achieving the status of the most ‘copied’ designer in the country; and for bringing Frida Kahlo back to life.
73 ANAMIKA KHANNA
For her cult reinterpretations of heritage; for disregarding ‘rules’; for making ‘mad’ beautiful; for never giving in to ‘pretty’; for daring to experiment with traditions; for redefining luxury and separating it from immaculate; for her own creatively elegant personal dressing style; and for embodying the woman that her school of thought stands for.
74 AISHWAYA RAI-BACHCHAN
For being the face of Indian films in Hollywood, for being an integral part of Brand Bachchan; for being the youngest Indian to be accorded the title of Officer Dan Ordre Des Arts Et Des Lettres by the French government; and for making girls believe that they too ‘are worth it’.
75-76 ABU JANI SANDEEP KHOSLA
high-stepping designer duo
For being the kings of embellishment, for dressing up some of the best names in India, for reinventing the magic of Zardozi and chikan; and for making white über sexy.
77 SHILPA SHETTY
For winning Celebrity Big Brother UK despite facing racist bullying; for taking her sexy tag in her stride and for her hot bod and bright smile that made her the darling of film buffs; and for lending support to social causes like HIV/AIDS.
78 SHAHAB DURAZI
For his belief in timeless elegance in the times of blinding bling; for refusing to succumb to the lure of excess in couture; for being the first Indian designer to make a properly beautiful gown; for being the bar of luxury tailoring; and for living for the love of his art.
79 SUCHETA DALAL
For being an award-winning business journalist whose career is based on many newsbreaks and insightful analysis; for co-authoring the best-seller The Scam: From Harshad Mehta to Ketan Parekh); for her interest in consumer and market related issues; and for winning the Padma Shri in 2006.
80 RITU KUMARIRRFAN KHAN
For completing four decades of reviving neglected heritage textile art forms; for bringing home ‘Best National Costume’ awards from international beauty pageants; for conquering high-end and high-street fashion arenas; and for giving the nation’s brides the assurance that even if the marriage does not work out, the trousseau always will.
81 SUNITA NARAIN
For being one of the major proponents of the green concept of sustainable development in the country; for heading the Society of Environmental Communications; and for receiving an honorary doctorate of Science and a Padma Shri for her ongoing work in the field.
82 IRRFAN KHAN
For traversing international boundaries with The Warrior and projects like Namesake, Slumdog Millionaire and A Mighty Heart; for breaking the chocolate hero mould and braving initial criticism; and for sitting pretty with films like Life of Pi and The Amazing Spiderman in his kitty.
83 AMITABH BACHCHAN
man for all seasons
For being a living legend of the world of entertainment; for being the most stylish sexagenarian around; for riding a Harley Davidson in the funkiest attire to make you believe that ‘Buddha hoga tera baap’; and for his blogs and tweets that never fail to entertain and entice his fans.
84 MAHESH BHUPATHI
For being regarded, with Leander Paes as among the best doubles players in the world with 11 Grand Slam titles to his credit; and for giving a new spin to sports and celebrity management.
85 PARMESHWAR GODREJ
For her efforts to bring more focus to the problem of HIV/AIDS; for having being handpicked by Alicia Keys and Leigh Blake through President Clinton’s Global initiative to work on numerous philanthropic projects in India; and for being a Queen Bee amongst the A-listers in the country.
86 JAMUNA PAI
For leading India into a bright and wrinkle-free age; for being the first name in cosmetic medicine in the country; for revolutionising the popular view of Botox and dermal fillers; for trendsetting in diverse areas; and for being appointed in 2010 to the Asia-Pacific advisory board of Allergan who manufacture Botox.
87 RAHUL GANDHI
For being the heir to the Gandhi political legacy and playing out his role with chutzpah; for his dimples and simple sartorial elegance that are endearing; for being part of the janta and travelling by locals; for watching matches with the crowd; and for being a bright hope for Gen Next and of course for the Congress Party.
88 KIRAN DESAI
gen next author
For carrying her literary legacy a step ahead and winning the Man Booker prize for her work The Inheritance Of Loss and for being the youngest woman ever to do so; for spearheading modern Indian literary movement; for her humble smile and for believing that books are more real than life.
89 ZIA MODY
For heading India’s leading law firms and being an authority on corporate mergers and acquisitions; for guiding some of the biggest Indian outbound deals; for being honoured with the Blue Ribbon of the Order of Merit by the Republic of France; and for the fact that she gracefully pays the highest taxes of any woman in India.
90 BIJOY JAIN
For his subtle aestheticism that is slowly gaining recognition across the world; and for making his Studio Mumbai take inspiration from our immediate environment to create spaces that draw from the relationship between land and architecture.
91 NANDAN NILEKANI
For being one of India’s most successful software entrepreneurs; for his vision of the country’s future;and for spearheading the national id card project, Aadhar, one of the most ambitious and biggest social inclusion programmes that is underway in India.
92 SIMI GAREWAL
poised talk show host
For creating her own niche as the Lady in White on the small screen with her Rendezvous with Simi Garewal; and for resurfacing in a brave new age-defying controversial avatar on her television show India’s Most Desirable.
For being a South superstar who is deified across the country and the world by fans who line up to catch early morning shows of his new releases; for remaining a simple human being in real life; and for his reel stunts that have inspired clones and other actors.
94 SUNIL BHARTI MITTAL
For adeptly navigating the maze of telecom politics; for setting trends in the Indian market; and for his Bharti Foundation that seeks to provide free English-medium education to the under-privileged across the country.
95 DEEPAK PAREKH
For being the friendly face of HDFC for years; for helming it to maintain a steady performance and growth and changing the face of home loans in India; for playing a pivotal role on several government committees; and for being passionate about preserving historic structures.
96 CHANDA KOCHHAR
For breaking the barrier in the world of banking; for being one of the first bankers in India to promote electronic banking; for ensuring that customer satisfaction is her prime priority; and for being awarded the Padma Bhushan.
97 NARAYAN MURTHY
For founding and steering Infosys and setting new standards in corporate governance; for establishing an example in the world of business by his honesty, transparency and moral integrity; for often being nominated in the lists of most powerful global executives; and for continuing to remain low profile about his achievements.
98 J JAYALALITHAA
For proving to be an Iron Lady who has shaped the face of her state for years; for being a convent-educated leader who has donned the cloak of a conquering ‘Amma’; and for creating her own style statement with gold and glitter.
For her sultry charisma and the mystery that surrounds her life; for morphing her persona so skillfully to rule the silver screen with her presence in heroine-dominated films for years; for dancing her way into the hearts of her fans; and for receiving the Padma Shri last year.
100 SUSHMA SWARAJ
For being a spirited leader of the Opposition in Parliament; for playing a dominant role in her own party; and for taking to Twitter with her characteristic aggressiveness.
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