Top Indian Personalities of 2016 (so far)
Three months to go and the year has already been a very happening one. Here is a list of the top people who have made it to the the headlines this year.
Politics & Government
- Narendra Modi – NaMo in the news isn’t really new. But this year, the PM continued making it to global headlines. In June this year, he addressed a joint session of the US Congress at Capitol Hill – a speech the elicited great appreciation from both countries apart from 10 standing ovations and 69 applauses from the Congress itself. Scheme launches continued with the PM unveiling the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana this year. He also led the country to join the Missile Technology Control Regime this year.
- Arvind Kejriwal – Another politician who is used to remaining in the news is the CM of Delhi. Apart from becoming the theme of memes and cartoon strips for his tongue surgery, Kejriwal courted criticism when he suggested that India was becoming isolated (post Uri) and for demanding video evidence of the surgical strikes in PoK.
- Sushma Swaraj – India’s External Affairs Minister Ms. Swaraj was in the news for all the right reasons this year. Apart from her official visits and strategic alliance building exercises, her scathing reply to Pakistan at the UN, her heartwarming tweet to a Pakistani girl in India (“…kyonki betiyan toh sabki sanjhi hoti hain”), and her responses to Indians abroad have made her the new darling of the country.
- Ajit Doval – Ajit Doval, National Security Adviser to the PM, is largely known to keep out of the spotlight. But with India taking an aggressive anti-terrorism stance and ordering surgical strikes on terror bases in Pakistan-occupied parts of Kashmir, it became clear that the operation was planned and overseen by Doval.
- Jayalalithaa – J Jayalalithaa, CM of Tamil Nadu, “Amma” to her followers, was re-elected as the head of the state government for the sixth time in May 2016. But this year, Selvi Jayalalitha has made more news by her ailment and absence than for any administrative revolution.
- Manohar Parrikar – India remained ambivalent this year about Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar. His (implicit) role in the surgical strikes and his statements following the operation were well received but his instructions to the military chiefs about the implementation of the seventh pay commission did not go well with many in the forces.
- Amit Shah – Having been reelected BJP President in January 2016, Amit Shah remained in the news through the year.
- Rajnath Singh – India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh stayed in the news quite a bit this year. The year started with JNU protests rocking the country; Rajnath Singh linked the protests to terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba. By year end, the Home Minister commented that work was on to seal the Indo-Pak border by 2018.
- Mamta Banerjee – After being elected as the CM of West Bengal for a second term in the WB Legislative Assembly elections in 2016, Ms Banerjee certainly proved her might in the state. But from proposing a name change for the state to featuring as Goddess Durga in many state pandals, the TMC leader has stayed in the headlines but not for any spectacular reason.
- Mohan Bhagwat – RSS controversies aren’t new but the RSS chief drew ridicule with his comments goading Hindus to produce more children and increase the population. While apologists later tried to explain away the statements, it did leave the RSS leader red faced.
Business & Finance
- Urjit Patel – Who will replace Raghuram Rajan? This question resounded across the nation when Rajan announced end of his tenure as RBI Governor. Dr Urjit Patel RBI’s deputy governor for two terms, took on the role with élan. Patel was a close associate of Rajan and is known for his bold stance in monetary decision-making.
- Mukesh Ambani – Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani topped the Forbes list of richest Indians for the 9th consecutive year. But this year Mukesh Ambani make news with the launch of Jio, the revolutionary mobile service provider offering data at exceptionally low rates.
- Sunil Mittal – Sunil Bharti Mittal led Airtel through a revolutionary change this year. While the company introduced 4G services in 2015, its spread to over 300 cities and towns came this year. Sunil Mittal also stayed in the news for having been elected Chairman of the Indian Chamber of Commerce.
- Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal – Flipkart co-founders, Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, stayed in the news this year. Flipkart’s acquisition of Jabong for USD 70 million was quite a sensation in the e-commerce space. But Sachin Bansal shocked the corporate world with the candid confession that he was removed from the CEO position over performance issues.
- Balkrishna – The CEO of Patanjali Ayurved and a close associate of Baba Ramdev, made it to the list of top 100 richest Indians (according to the Forbes Magazine). He holds 97 percent stake in Patanjali, India’s fastest growing FMCG company
- Kishore Biyani – Kishore Biyani has kept himself and Future Group in the news this year with acquisitions. After FabFurnish in April, it was the turn of Bharati Retail in May and Sangam Direct, the chain of retail stores, in September. The group is also in talks with Aditya Birla Retail to acquire its brand ‘More’.
- Rajinikanth – In all fairness, Super Star Rajinikanth is always in the news. But 2016 has been a special year. Thalaivar movie Kabali broke all records to become the highest grossing Indian film worldwide (collections topping INR 650 crore).
- Amitabh Bachchan – Amitabh Bachchan seems to defy the aging process. His revolutionary movie Pink was not only a box office hit but also became a much needed symbol of women’s rights. AB memes flooded the internet this year.
- Salman Khan – Sallu bhai started the year free from the troubles of the hit-and-run-case that haunted him in 2015. His 2016 release Sultan became one of the highest grossing Indian films of all time. But the actor also courted controversy with his support to Pakistani actors and performers in India despite a ban by the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association.
- Om Puri – The Uri attack and the following surgical strikes has many celebs voicing their opinion. But Om Puri pushed it too far when he made derisive comments about Indian soldiers and how no one had forced them to join the Army. Faced with sedition charges, the actor promptly apologised leading many to believe that the entire episode was a publicity stunt.
- P V Sindhu – PV Sindhu, Hyderabad tennis pro, became India’s silver girl when she became the first Indian woman to bag an Olympics silver medal at Rio this year.
- Sakshi Malik – Winning a bronze in the 58 kg category wrestling event at the Rio Olympics 2016, Sakshi Malik earned both the respect and the love of the nation while outdoing the men at the world’s premier sporting event.
- Dipa Karmakar – Not only did Indian gymnast Dipa Karmakar earn a place among the only five women who mastered the Produnova vault in the world, she also became the only Indian woman to be selected to participate in the Olympics gymnastics event in Rio 2016. Despite her failure to bag a medal, Dipa shone out with her performance.
- Mariyappan Thangavelu – The Paralympics champions of India brought the country much fame and respect. Thangavelu Mariyappan of Tamil Nadu bagged the gold in the the men’s high jump event and created history. Varun Singh Bhati won a bronze in the same event.
- Devendra Jhajharia – Devendra Jhajharia went on to become the nation’s second gold medal winner at the Rio Paralympics in the men’s F46 Javelin Throw event. He recorded a throw of 63.7 m.
- Virat Kohli – Virat Kohli in the headlines is not new. He bagged the eighth rank in ESPN’s list of most famous athletes in the world in 2016. This year he also won the Man of the Tournament award at the ICC World Twenty20 (second time after 2014).
- Sania Mirza – In 2016 Sania Mirza, India’s tennis pro won her third Grand Slam title when she paired with Martina Hingis to win the 2016 Australian Open Women’s Doubles. She also featured in the Time magazine’s list of 100 most influential people in the world this year.
- Anurag Thakur – Indian parliamentarian Anurag Thakur was elected President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in May 2016. But the organization has remained mired in controversy with its refusal to implement the reforms recommended by the Lodha Committee. Thakur may soon step down.
- AS Kiran Kumar – Under the chairmanship of AS Kiran Kumar, the ISRO launched PSLV’s longest space mission in September 2016. The rocket is set to place the SCATSAT-1 satellite and 7 others in a sun synchronous orbit. With NASA keen to join hands and work with ISRO, the chairman stayed firmly in the spotlight.
- General Dalbir Singh Suhag – Unlike previous Army chiefs, General Suhag has kept away from the media. But with sensational news such as the Uri attack and surgical strikes on terror bases in PoK making ripples across the country, the General’s role too has been widely discussed. The CoAS is also set to retire on the last day of this year.
- Kanhaiya Kumar – From a nondescript student union leader to a national newsmaker, Kanhaiya Kumar hit the headlines overnight with the outbreak of the JNU protests. Anti-India slogans, Kanhaiya’s arrest and sedition charges, student protests from different parts of the country – much drama centered around this newsmaker but by the end of the year not much has been heard about him.
- Amitabh Kant – Niti Ayog CEO, Amitabh Kant, chose this year to come out of the shadows. The brains behind many flagship schemes such as Make in India and Digital India, Kant plays an important role in shaping India’s economic policies and propelling the nation towards a cashless society.
- Baba Ramdev – Baba Ramdev now enjoys celebrity status in India. In March 2016 Patanjali Ayurved’s turnover crossed USD 670 million and it became the fastest growing FMCG brand in India. In September again the yoga guru made news when he announced his intention of launching “Swadeshi” jeans.