50 Top Indian Personalities in 2016-17
The year 2016 has ended on a tumultuous note for the country even as it recovers from the shock of demonetization, which can easily be called the most polarizing decision taken this year. However, the year has not been all bleak as many may wish to believe – on the security front India has been able to reply in kind to the terror attacks emanating from Pakistan, to the extent where allegedly its Defence Minister has asked India to show mercy. On the sporting front, our Paralympic and Olympic athletes have made us proud alongwith our cricket team that continues to scale the heights as always.
Now let’s look at the people who have done well this year:
One of the major decisions taken by Narendra Modi this year has been the demonetization initiative. It came into being at midnight on 9 November, 2016, and we have all seen the effect it has had on the country. Apart from this, however, the Prime Minister of India has initiated several programmes in his tenure to revive the manufacturing sector in India and modernize the country with the Smart Cities’ programme. He has attempted to clean up our rivers and also improve the infrastructure all around.
If PM Modi is the face behind all that’s happening in India, Jaitley can be regarded as the brains behind several of those initiatives. This decorated politician has already served a number of roles and his influence behind the demonetization initiative can’t be disregarded either. He has also been giving people a proper idea of how long it may take for things to get back to normal. In his budget speech this year, he also announced a number of measures keeping the highly-crucial farm sector in mind.
Sonia Gandhi’s role as the leader of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) can’t be ignored in spite of the drubbing the party endured in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. True to popular opinions, she has maintained an important position in the party and even taken on detractors who have always objected to her role in the Indian political scenario given her Italian background. However, it is being said that she may quit politics following the ensuing elections in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.
Pranab Mukherjee, as the President of India, had a major role to play in the demonetization scheme coming into being as it was his approval that paved the way for its implementation. One of the highlights of our President this year has been his Nepal visit during November. The very way he ascended to this post was filled with controversy, even though none of it could be attributed to him.
Known as ‘Amma’ to her followers across Tamil Nadu, as well as other parts of India, Jayalalithaa passed away on December 5, 2016. How popular the former CM of Tamil Nadu was could be gauged from the facts that people committed suicide at a fake news of her death and poured their heart out at her demise this year. Even the incumbent CM O Panneerselvam found it hard to control his emotions when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited her funeral and attempted to console him. Karnataka, Punjab, Uttarakhand, and Bihar observed December 6 as a day of mourning, and Kerala and Puducherry did so from December 6-8, which speaks volumes about the impact she had as a leader on the nation as a whole.
As the Union Home Minister – as well as the premier leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – Rajnath Singh has occupied an important place in national politics of late. One of his major actions this year was to claim in May that infiltration originating from Pakistan has decreased at a rate of 52% in the last two years. This is incidentally the period BJP has been in power at the centre.
Ever since he was re-elected to the post of BJP President on January 24, 2016, Amit Shah has gone from strength to strength within the party, as well as in the context of national politics at large. He had made a couple of major proclamations this year – firstly to do away with the spectre of black money by the end of this year, and secondly to end the reign of Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP) in Uttar Pradesh (UP). It can be said safely that with the demonetization initiative his party may have taken some major steps in both these areas.
Sushma Swaraj has been playing a major role ever since she was instituted as the Union External Affairs Minister in 2014. She has always had her plate full considering the visits PM Modi has made in his tenure. In 2016, she has been to Sri Lanka, Nepal, Iran, Russia, Myanmar, and Italy. She has also been recently named on the Global Thinkers 2016 list of FirstPost, an honour for which she has been congratulated by Narendra Modi as well. She is also regarded by many as one of the finest India has produced in her position.
Rahul Gandhi had urged for a revisit of approach and action following the disastrous results of 2014 nationwide elections and he has really come good on his words after he took a break from politics after that incident. He has been in BJP’s face and the recent demonetization scheme has only added further fuel to his fire. He has also shown much interest in taking up the farmers’ cause and contested the land bill BJP has been trying to pass since 2015.
Asaduddin Owaisi is one of the well-known political figures in India. An MLA (member of the legislative assembly), he has been awarded with the Sansad Ratna Award for performing the best during the fifteenth Lok Sabha of 2014. He is known for his political views that are mostly in favour of Muslims and Dalits, and is known to have criticized PM Modi for his greeting “Jai Shree Ram”. In February, he supposedly led a mob assault of Congress leaders in Telangana and surrendered to the police before being granted bail. In March, he also stated at a public rally in Maharashtra that he will never chant “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”. He later on said that he had no problem with the chant. It was just a protest against the opinion of Mohan Bhagwat – the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief – during the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) episode. In July, he labelled ISIS as “dogs of hell” and also asked speeches at mosques to be monitored. In August, 2016, he also expressed his displeasure at the Ahmadiyya community being accorded the status of Muslims in the 2011 Census.
The Chief Minister of Delhi has always been in news, starting from his days as an activist to the time he voluntarily quit the post of CM on his very first outing, citing failure and incapability as reasons. One of his major steps this year was to state that the national government was being alienated from its people because of its attacks on Pakistan, a statement which drew considerable criticism. He has also asked PM Modi to prove the authenticity of the surgical strikes launched post Uri, a move which has led him to become a hero in Pakistan and a darling for its media.
Justice TS Thakur
Justice Tirath Singh Thakur, the forty-third Chief Justice of India (CJI), ascended to the post on November 18 last year and ever since has been in the news for a number of judgments that have had major impact on the country. He has negated meat ban during a Jain festival in Maharashtra and is supposed to change the landscape forever in the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI). This year also saw him launch an emotional appeal to PM Modi for the legal system to be armed with greater resources.
Even though he called it a day on June 18 this year as the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), he has left an indelible imprint on Indian economy as a whole. Rajan has been able to battle ills such as inflation, foreign exchange reserves, and the condition of the Indian National Rupee (INR), and deal with the issue of bank licenses. All this while he has operated under immense heat as is expected for someone in his position.
Urjit Patel succeeded Raghuram Rajan as the Governor of RBI this year and it is under his leadership that the demonetization programme was launched by the government. Patel has been one of the leading economists of India and has served in the role of RBI Deputy Governor since 2013 before ascending to his present post. In his capacity as the head of RBI’s Monetary Policy Department – at the time of his deputy governorship – he has dealt with a number of important areas such as monetary policy, deposit insurance, economic policy research, communication, statistics and information management, and right to information.
As the National Security Adviser of India, Doval has played a major role in the surgical strikes that followed the insidious Uri attacks. He is regarded as perhaps one of the finest spies India has ever produced. He has planned a number of attacks on terror elements in other countries and thankfully they have all been successful, with the recent operations in Myanmar being cases in point. It can be said with a degree of certainty that he is playing a major role in shaping the foreign policy of India.
Justice RM Lodha
Rajendra Mal Lodha has previously served as the CJI – he was the forty-first person to have adorned this position. This year he has created quite the sensation with his Committee Report on the BCCI, one that is set to see the centuries-old organization changed in the year ahead. What has been commendable is the way he has sought to restore equity and parity among all the affiliate and associate members of the board and aimed to do away with old office-bearers, instead asking cricketers to take up administrative posts.
PK Mishra serves as the Additional Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister. This Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officer was a member of the 1972 batch Gujarat cadre and now plays an important role in the various appointments announced by the central government. There is no bureaucratic reshuffle or appointment at a senior level that can be done without his consent. He has also provided the brains behind schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana.
The Foreign Secretary of India has made the headlines this year perhaps for a wrong reason. He has admitted to Dr. Martin Ney, the German Ambassador to India, that India did not launch any surgical strike in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir after the Uri Attacks. This was a complete contradiction to the claims of the Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. This particular statement can jolly well be interpreted as loss of face for the national government.
Dr. Arvind Panagariya
Dr. Panagariya has been the Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog and in that role he plays a major role in the economic policymaking of India. There was talk that this year he would become the new Chairman of RBI, but eventually that post went to Urjit Patel. It is his mandate to make this body an independent economic think-tank and act as the pivotal link between states and the centre.
Arvind Subramanian, the Chief Economic Adviser, has not been in the limelight recently because of his difference of opinions with the central government on the demonetization issue, especially with regards to the way it has been implemented. He has played a major role in creating the JAM (Jan Dhan, Aadhaar, and Mobile) trifecta in order to help subsidies reach the intended beneficiaries. He has also played a role in determining a uniformly-applicable rate to be levied in case of Goods and Services Tax (GST).
Nripendra Misra, the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister came to the limelight this year when he stated that the good work done by the Indian Government under BJP never receives coverage in the media. He has also said that the media is, however, hyping all the areas of failure. He is also known to be quite the difficult taskmaster. This IAS officer from the 1967 batch is also the most trusted person for PM Modi.
Justice JS Khehar is expected to become the forty-fourth CJI once the incumbent Justice Thakur ends his reign. He has been recommended by the outgoing CJI, which shows how highly he is rated. As and when he assumes the post, which is likely to be sometime in 2017, he will also have the honour of being the first Sikh to have graced the prestigious position. He played a major role in the CJI retaining the right to appoint the judges of the Supreme Court by effectively quashing the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC).
Widely regarded as the father of news television in India, it is unsure if Roy would remember this year with much great fondness. After all, he was recently implicated in a siphoning scandal, where it has been alleged that he misappropriated INR 53.84 crore to a personal account from NDTV, an organization that he has founded and chairs with his better half Radhika Roy. Incidentally, Mrs. Roy has been embroiled in the scandal as well. The Income Tax Department (IT) found this out in July and informed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Delhi Police. If found guilty it would mean Roy has violated the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and could face charges of fraud and criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). This could mean a jail term of three to seven years.
Known to so many people in India and around the world that he can justifiably be called the face of Indian news media, Goswami created quite a stir this year when he put down his papers as the Editor-in-Chief of Times Now. He has recently announced a new news channel named Republic, which has created quite a stir with people such as Harsh Goenka and Mohandas Pai sharing their views on the same on Twitter. People are also expecting big things from the channel.
Barkha Dutt has been in the news this year for some well-publicized spats with the likes of Arnab Goswami and Anupam Kher. Recently, she has also launched a case for the hacking of her Twitter account. Her clash with Goswami has led to her being criticized on Twitter. She came to national recognition with her coverage of the 1999 Kargil War. Dutt happens to be a well-known columnist as well.
The son of former Indian cricketer Dilip Sardesai, Rajdeep Sardesai has carved out his own niche in the competitive world of Indian media, thanks to his work as a consulting editor with the India Today group. His show Headlines Today is also highly revered and sits there right at the top of other leading shows of its fraternity. He was recently lambasted significantly on Twitter for a supposedly-sexist question he had put together to tennis star Sania Mirza.
This year Mukesh Ambani has launched Jio – a 4G phone service – that has led to a price war of sorts in the telecom market of India, which is already much more competitive than it should be. This was done at a Reliance Industries shareholders’ meeting during September. At present, his organization is earning revenues worth $44.7 billion but is engaged in a legal battle with the Indian Government over getting back the costs it incurred for developing a gas field.
A business tycoon who is the chairman and founder of the Adani Group, Gautam Adani has continued to stay strong this year in spite of reduction in the prices of shares of Adani Ports & SEZ. He has also taken a step closer to realize his aim of starting a coal mining project in Queensland, Australia after a federal court rejected a legal challenge from a local environmental group. Adani has already received permission from the Australian Government. In India, he is expected to branch out to solar power projects at Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, and Gujarat. They are supposed to make solar panels as well. According to Forbes, his personal wealth is estimated to be $7.1 billion as of September 2014.
The earnings of the wealthiest pharma baron of India may have come down by around $1.1 billion in 2016 – the prices of Sun Pharmaceutical Industries shares have come down as well. However, Dilip Shanghvi still remains the second richest businessperson in India and his company is still the fifth biggest maker of generic medicine in the world. The company is getting back on track, thanks to Gilivec’s sales in the US.
Wipro, with revenue amounting to $7.7 billion, may have seen a decrease of 6% in net earnings that have now gone down to $304 million, but the company still remains the third biggest provider of outsourcing services in India. Much of this decrease can be amounted to sales that have remained sluggish. It has recently bought HealthPlan Services, a Florida-based firm dealing in insurance technology for $460 million.
The Indian-origin Irish businessman made a major start to his career in 2012 when he was chosen to chair the Tata Group. As a scion of the famed Mistry family from Ireland, he had the right pedigree one felt but things soon reached such a point that he was unanimously ousted from his position this year. Ever since, we have stood witness to a rather-uncouth game of mudslinging and allegations between Mistry and his former boss – the all-mighty Tata Group.
Sachin and Binny Bansal
Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal changed the very face of shopping in India with Flipkart back in 2007. Ever since, it has gone very well for them – with occasional hiccups here and there. In 2016, Myntra – a brand owned by Flipkart – bought Jabong, its biggest rival, in a major move for $70 million. In April it also acquired PhonePe, a startup dealing in payment solutions. The co-founders also received the Asians of the Year award from Straits Times of Singapore this year.
Kumar Birla, widely recognized as the commodities king of India, is presently in the midst of an empire reconstruction. His company, Aditya Birla Group, presently earns $4 billion in revenue. During August, Birla merged Aditya Birla Nuvo and Grasim Industries, which was earning plenty of cash. He also demerged the financial services business to form a separate entity. These decisions caused some friction between Birla and the shareholders, but Kumar Birla is still the ninth richest businessman in India.
As the CEO of Patanjali, Acharya Balkrishna can be said to have revolutionized the Indian fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) market itself. His organization has come up with an unimaginable range of products at prices that are affordable for the lowest classes and at a quality that can be depended upon. What further helps the brand is the credibility Patanjali has built up over the years with some top-of-the-line ayurvedic products. This has also made Balkrishna one of the newest billionaires of India.
The Serum Institute of India – established by Poonawalla in 1966 – earned revenues worth $695 million in 2016, which helped it earn a record profit of $360 million in the financial year 2015-16. The company is presently expected to make investments worth $150 million to build a factory that will make a new range of vaccines to deal with diseases like dengue, diarrhea, and pneumonia.
The year 2016 has been kind to the captain of the Indian test team, in the sense that he is yet to taste any major failure in that form of the game. His record as a skipper has been exemplary – he has won an away series in West Indies, which is easier said than done and then defeated New Zealand and England at home, which was not exactly a walk in the park. Throughout all this his record as a batsman has been exemplary, with four centuries in tests as well as three in one-dayers.
In the 2016 Rio Paralympics, Malik became the first Indian woman para-athlete to have bagged a medal when she won the silver medal in the shot put event. Malik is already known and much lauded for participating actively in adventure sports. She is connected to Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI) as well as Himalayan Motorsports Association (HMA). Recently as part of Raid de Himalaya she took part in a driving (1700 km) and climbing (till 18000 feet) programme that lasted for eight days.
In 2016, Sania Mirza continued her good form that she had shown in 2015 and won a number of championships that may be mentioned as below:
|Australian Open||Martina Hingis|
|St. Petersburg Ladies’ Trophy||Martina Hingis|
|Internazionali BNL d’Italia||Martina Hingis|
|Cincinnati Masters||Barbara Strycova|
|Connecticut Open||Monica Niculescu|
She also received the Padma Bhushan this year and represented India in her third straight Olympic games.
The Indian test team has gone places this year and much of that has to do with Ravichandran Ashwin finding his bearings as a player. Assured of a spot in the team as the premier spinner, his batting has flowered to such an extent that he has scored a couple of centuries in West Indies! He has also picked up three ten-wicket hauls in a match – two against the Kiwis and one against England at Mumbai. This year, he also became the first Indian to have grabbed 50 T20 (International) wickets. He has also become, in this year, the third quickest to the twentieth five-wicket haul. During November, he completed the magic double of 50 wickets and 500 runs in a calendar year, becoming the second Indian cricketer to have achieved the record.
Jhajharia made the country proud at the recent Paralympics with a gold medal winning performance in the F46 javelin throw event. This was his second gold medal following his exploits at Athens 2004. This performance made him the second para-athlete from India to have bagged a gold medal at this event. In fact, his throw in 2016 exceeded the one in 2004. At present, he is being aided through the Para Champions Programme by GoSports Foundation.
Right now Sindhu is regarded as the face of Indian badminton, which is an incredible feat when you consider that the likes of Saina Nehwal are still on the prowl. She might have been performing really well all the year round but her crowning glory definitely has been the silver medal at Rio 2016 where she went toe to toe with Carolina Marin, the top seed from Spain. She gained a measure of revenge by defeating her at the BWF World Super Series Finals in Dubai. She has also won Malaysia Masters and China Open this year.
At Rio, the 25 year old Malik became the first woman wrestler from India to bag a medal at the Olympics, when she won the bronze medal at the 58 kilo event. This medal also made her one of the few women from India to have bagged a medal at the Olympics placing her at par with the likes of Saina Nehwal and Mary Kom. The freestyle wrestler had won the bronze medal at the 2015 Asian Wrestling Championships organized at Doha and silver at the 2014 Commonwealth Games held at Glasgow.
Thangavelu won the gold medal at the Rio Paralympics 2016 in the finals of the men’s high jump T42 category. His jump was measured at 1.89 m. This was comfortably better than his distance of 1.78 m at the same category in the IPC Grand Prix held in Tunisia during March 2016. It was this performance that helped him qualify for Rio. Since 2004 he is the first Indian athlete to have won a gold medal at the Paralympics.
Karmakar may not have bagged a medal at the Olympics but she did make her presence felt at the gymnastics event by finishing at the fourth place and performing the dangerous Produnova Vault to such perfection that it even led Simone Biles – the gold medalist in that category – praise her. This year, she also became the first Indian woman gymnast to qualify for the Summer Olympics and the first Indian gymnast at the Games since Tokyo 1964. She received the Khel Ratna Award in August.
Varun Singh Bhati
Varun Singh Bhati won the bronze medal at the para high jump event in Rio Paralympics 2016. Here he recorded a jump of 1.86 metres, which was his best performance till date. This year he also took part at the IPC Athletics Asia-Oceania Championship. Here, apart from setting a new record in Asia, he bagged the gold medal as well. He suffered from polio at a very young age, but that never deterred him from joining sports as a school student.
On December 14th Smriti Mandhana – one of the top batswomen in the Indian team that boasts the likes of Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur – was included in the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Women’s Team of the Year. Inclusion in this team is meant to mark and welcome a player for her contribution across a season and this only shows how well Mandhana has performed.
Salman Khan had just one release this year – Sultan. It was as usual a mega hit but this film also saw the superstar experiment with his look, even sporting a paunch (by his lofty standards) to portray an out-of-luck ex-wrestler, who is trying to make a comeback in life through mixed martial arts (MMA). The film was received warmly by critics as well and its success was of epic proportions. He is next supposed to work in a couple of films with Kabir Khan.
Right now, easily one of the top actors in her generation, Bhatt has had a varied 2016 to say the least. If 2015 had Highway, this year she kicked off with Udta Punjab where her turn as a sexually-abused Bihari immigrant was easily the high point of the film glossing over someone of the calibre of Shahid Kapoor. She was also appreciated in Kapoor & Sons. In Dear Zindagi she actually outshone someone as experienced and capable as Shah Rukh Khan, which in spite of an author-backed role is not easy to do.
Shah Rukh Khan
Shah Rukh Khan has had a quiet year by his standards – one where his films have not been blockbusters. However, his work as an actor has been praised in all the films where he has had some substantial appearance. His work in Fan – a film that failed to meet box office expectations – saw perhaps his finest work in a long time. His turn as a psychiatrist in Dear Zindagi was a performance in the order of what he did in Chak De, regarded by many as one of his best works till date.
Anushka Sharma had a good year in 2016 with both her releases Sultan and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil doing well at the box office and on the criticism front. Her work in Sultan was highly praised with many critics saying that she was easily the best aspect in a film that was essentially male-centric. Her look in Ae Dil Hai Mushkil was highly praised with many saying that she is easily the most gorgeous female actor in Bollywood today.