The new club of the power elite, still dominated by moguls
and mavens, is a celebration of India’s creative brio as well
By S. Prasannarajan
t is as if only irony alone can bring some cheer to these bleak times.
I The most feted millionaire today in India and elsewhere is a
slumdog. Maybe, as in the movie, only wit and perseverance can
keep you on top of the game at a time when the lights are going out
all over the highest shrines of capitalism. In the gathering darkness,
desperate invocations have a socialist resonance. And suddenly, the
cold breeze of mortality is wafting across the pinstriped republic of
plutocrats, that sovereign state within the state that looked infallible
till the other day. The unthinkable is upon us. The masters of the
universe have feet of clay. Still, despite all the news of Apocalypse
Tomorrow, let’s not be fooled. The traditional relationship between
wealth and power remains intact. The front row of the power elite—
the Establishment—is reserved for people who know how to create
wealth and play with it, no matter even if they are poorer by a few
billions in the wake of the economic downturn. The sweep of their
power, though, is not directly proportional to the size of their wealth;
and that is why the richest is not necessarily the most powerful. Power
is all about the ideas and attitude of the one who wields it. The
business class that still dominates the Higher Circle tells more than a
story of survival; it essays the boldness and ingenuity of a few who still
make a difference to the lives of the rest—for better or worse. Today,
in the age of bail-outs and stimulus plans, they may have realised the
uses of governments but their power is not subordinate to the rulers
of the day. That said, the INDIA TODAY Power List 2009 shows a shift in
hierarchy, a shift that reflects an India where the money is matched
by the mind. India is the stage on which some of the most exuberant
shows on earth are mounted. India is the page on which some of the
finest words are written. And we won’t be surprised if Jai Ho becomes
a global ring tone. Call it the reach of India’s soft power. As the
bad news from the free market multiplies, there is at least something
to be happy about: the cultural capital is not melting down. And this
list, though mostly populated by the usual suspects of moguls and
mavens, is a celebration of India’s creative brio as well. The classical
architecture of the Establishment—built on the triangular structure
of government, the military, and business—hardly exists in democra-
cies. Usurpers and innovators continue to shatter its cosy equilibrium.
The rustle of the following pages carries the power of the few whose
privilege may be exclusive but not eternal.
71, Industrialist (1)
Never Say Die
Because in India’s hour of terror, he acted
more statesmanlike than any politician.
Because he spoke for the nation in every
crisis, whether at Singur or when The Taj was
being attacked in Mumbai, personifying
India’s fighting spirit by ensuring the hotel
reopened within a month.
Because he embodies ethical entrepreneur-
ship even when being challenged with
dire circumstances and notwithstanding
Mamata Banerjee’s opposition, will roll out the
Nano at the promised price this year.
Because despite the recession, his group’s
turnover will touch $100 billion this year,
and he has not yielded to pessimism, whether
on Corus or on the Jaguar Land Rover deal.
the big number A valuation of $10 billion
for the telecom business when the Japanese
major DoCoMo paid $2.7 billion for a
26 per cent stake.
quotable quote “Some Ms are good
and some are bad.”
Y2K Most of the cars that he drives have
the number 2000.
hot wheels A Metallic Blue Maserati.
is known to Take the controls of
his private jets.
51, Industrialist (2)
Because he did not succumb to
either corporate fad or government
pressure, staying away from invest-
ing in overseas acquisitions and
sticking to building greenfield
assets that deliver 20 per cent
returns on investment.
Because RIL is likely to end the year
with a growth of over 20 per cent with
income rising to over Rs 1,60,000
crore from Rs 1,39,269 crore last year,
and at a time when everyone is
strapped for money, he is swimming
in nearly Rs 30,000 crore of cash.
Because his gas fields KG-D6
will begin production this month,
saving India over $10 billion in
agenda 2009 Supporting wife
Nita in her quest to help Mumbai
Indians win IPL Season 2 and shift-
ing into their new home on Alta-
mount Road before the new year.
is proud that Low cost gas from
KG-D6 will bring down subsidies on
power, fertiliser and LPG costs,
therefore the fiscal deficit.
current obsession Preparing
twins Akash and Isha who are
leaving to study in the US.
power moment First Indian to
meet US President Barack Obama
within a month of his taking office.
he believes His dream of farm-to-
fork revolution will happen next.
34 INDIA TODAY ◆ MARCH 16, 2009
48, Industrialist (3)
Because he is Mr Big in every
segment he has a presence in, from
power to entertainment, from roads
Because his influence across the
country’s political spectrum is unmat-
ched and he bagged three big ticket
power projects even with an
Because by 2015, he could be the
biggest infrastructure player in India.
Because he is setting up 32,000 MW
of generating capacity, building
500 km of roads, the Delhi Airport
Express Metro line as well as the
Mumbai Metro project.
Because even as many are down-
sizing, he will be adding 16,000
employees this year.
Because his tie-up with Steven
Spielberg and movie production
alliances with Hollywood stars from
George Clooney to Nicolas Cage
make him a formidable name on the
idea of a binge Kesar pista ice
cream on Wednesday nights at
India Gate on the way to the
airport to fly back to Mumbai
on his Global Express.
image makeover Has now
switched from flashy Armani to
is proud about The 700-bed super
specialty hospital which has been
set up by wife Tina.
is happy about Having improved
his mileage. He now runs 18 km
MARCH 16, 2009 ◆ INDIA TODAY 35
51, Industrialist (4)
Because in a business where he is competing big play for the Indian mind-share with Bharti
with Tata, Birla, Ambani and Vodafone, he Airtel Triple Play, Telephone, Broadband and TV,
is the biggest, and in an era of gloom, has proved on a single line.
to be an island of boom. Because Best Price, his tie-up with Walmart,
Because given the lead of 25 million, even if will take off by June. Because without doubt, he
Airtel stood still, it would take the nearest is the face of the new Indian entrepreneur.
competitor nearly 12 months to catch up.
Because with annualised revenues of Rs 38,000 little known fact Airtel has over one million
crore for 2008-09 and profit before tax of outlets and recharge stores.
Rs 15,000 crore, Airtel is among the most effi-
cient money machines and by 2013, Bharti will
is looking forward to His daughter Eiesha’s
wedding this summer.
be a trillion-rupee group.
Because he is engaged in the transformation of fitness is Walking for an hour in Lodhi Gardens.
telecom into a lifestyle business, ranging from
calls to games, from movies to music, making a music means Ghazals by Jagjit Singh.
36 INDIA TODAY ◆ MARCH 16, 2009
Y He Khan
5 Because he is everywhere, at once, as a movie actor, cricket team owner,
KHAN television producer, sometime television host and ambassador of 10 brands,
43, Actor (6) who was the most visible celebrity on TV in 2008.
Because everything he does makes headline news, from a tiff with Salman
Khan to a patch-up with Amitabh Bachchan and his film, Rab Ne Bana Di
Jodi, almost salvaged a studio, Yash Raj Films.
Because he is emerging as a spokesman for Islam at a time when the religion
is under global attack and though Pepsi may have dropped him as their
brand ambassador, young people see him as a Bollywood outsider who made it
to the top through sheer grit.
Because whether it is anchoring a film awards night or promoting his movie
in a reality show, he can be counted on to perform.
funniest thing anyone ever said to him Nice try, sir. An SMS from
someone after one of his movies.
biggest joy Sleeping in bed between his children Aryan and Suhana and
constantly being kicked by them. And watching them ski in Austria.
latest reads The Yuck Book. “My daughter made me read it.” Artemis
Fowl’s The Time Paradox and Daniel Suarez’s Daemon.
38 INDIA TODAY ◆ MARCH 16, 2009
Man in the Middle
6 Because his support to the govern-
SINGH ment makes it compliant to his demands
and the moment he criticised the then fi-
54, Politician (new)
nance minister P. Chidambaram for in-
flation and Petroleum Minister Murli
Deora for his ‘anti-people’ (read anti-Anil
Ambani) policies, the media assumed
there would be a reshuffle.
Because when the Congress dithered
over seat sharing in Uttar Pradesh, he
worked out a political realignment with
Sharad Pawar over dinner that brought
the Congress to the negotiating table.
exchange programme Substi-
tuted Prakash Karat for the Gandhis as
his new best friends. Says he sees “a
ray of hope” in Sonia and Rahul.
the rethink “I have already said that
1999 was a mistake,” he says, explain-
ing Samajwadi Party’s decision not to
support a Congress government at
the Centre then.
and finally Has stopped wearing his
10-carat diamond ring because “people
said I was wearing it for my Venus
angle but the real reason is that my
wife gave it to me”.
Because in a year when the economy is in a state of shock, the
group is set to double its revenues from last year and with new busi-
nesses, expansion in steel as also the refinery going on-stream, their
revenues will touch a trillion rupees by 2011.
Because while other companies are talking about shelving plans,
the brothers are investing over Rs 15,000 crore in steel alone,
taking their production capacity to
14 metric tonnes per annum, and pledg-
ing over half-a-billion dollars to telecom
operations in Africa. SHASHIKANT 7
Because their businesses span sectors, & RAVI RUIA
from 1,500 gas stations through which
they will retail petroleum products 65 and 59, Industrialists (12)
across India to Aegis, their BPO opera-
tions with 35,000 employees.
recession mantra Keep your head down, believe in yourself
and your people during tough times.
little known fact With 10,000 employees in the US, Essar Group
is the largest Indian employer there.
smart strategy With a majority of group companies privately- Ravi (left) and
held, the Ruias are insulated from the vagaries of the stock market. Shashikant
MARCH 16, 2009 ◆ INDIA TODAY 39
SAMIR & VINEET
News Worthies JAIN
54 and 42, Media Barons (9)
Because not only do they have the largest selling English
language daily in the country at 32 lakh copies a day, and
the largest English language financial daily selling seven
lakh copies every day, but also their television news chan-
nel has become the highest rated in that genre.
Because they are the largest private players in radio, with
32 stations across India, to which they have added a for-
eign acquisition, Virgin Radio, as well.
Because they are the only ones brave enough to launch a
business channel slam bang in the middle of a recession.
Because with cash reserves of Rs 3,400 crore, they are
best equipped to ride the economic storm.
the big divide The Vice-Chairman now looks after print
and the Managing Director after everything else.
big change Mother Indu Jain no longer visits the office.
the big acquisition Of the soon-to-be-husband of
back-from-Stanford daughter Trishala who has been
ensconced in the fourth floor of Times House. Samir (left)
facing the axe The Times of India’s edit page. and Vineet
NARENDRA BISHT AMIT KUMAR
Because despite the economic downturn, the
consolidated revenues of the Aditya Birla Group
are still $28 billion and he has a footprint that
straddles 25 countries.
Because his companies have attained global
leadership and are among the world’s most cost-
efficient copper and aluminum producers.
Because a year of quiet consolidation has seen
the Group’s retail operations touch 615 super-
markets and two hypermarkets.
Because thanks to a new will by
grandfather B.K. Birla, a large part
KUMAR MAN- of the Rs 5,000-crore empire will be
9 inherited by him.
41, Industrialist (5) biggest stress buster Shooting
with his Morini pistol at the
Maharashtra Rifle Association’s
shooting range in Worli, Mumbai.
recession mantra Consistent cost manage-
ment is holding the group in good stead today.
road ahead Wants to make the Aditya Birla
Group a part of the Fortune 150 club by 2014.
Master of All Trades 10
Because he is steering the makeover of 58, Industrialist (17)
the eponymous GMR Group from a domestic player in
the infrastructure business to a global player with a
presence in seven countries.
Because with the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in
Hyderabad, completed in a record 30 months in March
last year, he proved India can have world class facilities.
Because even as the Group builds the new terminal at
the Delhi airport, it has ensured an enduring connect
with the Delhi Daredevils in the IPL contest.
big buy Acquisition of 50 per cent stake in Intergen, a
leading global power generation company, at a cost of
approximately $1 billion, making the Group the largest
private power generation company in India.
little known fact A mechanical engineer by training,
he was employed in the Public Works Department of
Andhra Pradesh before he resigned to turn a jute trader.
should be embarrassed about The foray into insu-
rance, creating ING Vysya and finally pulling out of it.
A PRABHAKAR RAO
Because his recently-acquired hard-
ware underlines India’s growing soft power
and his twin Oscar wins have made him the
country’s golden boy.
Because he is every international artist’s
first choice for collaboration in India,
whether it is Kylie Minogue or Akon.
Because he is an amazing amalgam of
Indian multiculturalism: born a Hindu, he
converted to Islam at his mother’s behest
and gave his first public performance in a
church as an 11-year-old.
Because his music, a blend of raga and
reggae, jazz and hip-hop, has opened the
world’s eyes to the dazzling possibilities of
Indian film sound.
A.R. time out None. While the rest of the
RAHMAN world is celebrating his win, he has got
back to work, completing his pending
43, Music Director (47) projects in India for “furious directors”.
loves to Surf the Internet on his
MacBook and ensures that everyone in
his team uses the same too.
first stop anywhere Mosque and
then an electronics shop. Currently
devoted to the Continuum fingerboard.
Made in Bharat
Because by launching the Xylo, a ANAND
multi-utility vehicle, at the gloomiest point MAHINDRA
for the automobile industry, he has dis-
played entrepreneurial courage.
52, Industrialist (14)
Because with market leadership in trac-
tors, utility vehicles, farm equipment, a fi-
nance company that lends to rural
households, an SEZ and a realty division, he
is all set to bring Bharat back to India.
Because his joint venture with BAE
Systems sets him up to be one of the biggest
players in India’s emerging defence sector.
Because he is one of the most articulate
Indian voices at various international
fora, from Aspen to Davos.
is proud that Mahindra Realty is a
debt-free company. And that one in two
tractors in the country carries the
little known fact The 155 mm howitzer,
known to Indians as the Bofors gun, is
now in the Mahindra-BAE stable.
SHRIYA PATIL SHINDE
The Frugal Billionaire
Because he steers India’s No. 3 soft-
ware services exporter without worrying
about the high volatility of the IT industry.
Because with a cash chest of $500 million,
he is looking for acquisitions abroad and
plans to beef up his company’s position in
France and Germany.
Because in keeping with deep personal
values of corporate governance, he ap-
proached the Madras High Court to stop
the proposed reverse merger between
Subhiksha and Blue Green Constructions
and Investments, even though his invest-
ment firm, PremjiInvest, had bought a 10
per cent stake in the retail chain from ICICI
AZIM HASHAM Ventures for around $150 million last year.
management mantra When you
62, Businessman (11) over-pay people based on their results, it
can generate very distorted behaviours.
little known fact He fulfilled his teen-
age wish, 33 years on, by completing his
electrical engineering at Stanford, in 1999.
Because he is the go-to guy for gov-
ernment and business, whether it
is Satyam or the troubled US-64.
Because in a year of edifices turning to
dust, HDFC will close with an estimated
growth of 19 per cent.
Because he brings credibility to what-
ever he does, whether it is putting the
nuts and bolts of the new pension policy
in place or advising the Government on
providing affordable housing to the
masses in the country.
DEEPAK Because the rumour is that he knows
PAREKH someone on a first name basis on the
board of every Fortune 500 company.
64, Banker (15)
recession mantra Be cautious and
conservative in such times. Don’t focus
on market share, instead concentrate
on the bottom line.
road ahead Officially it’s his last year
in office and July onwards he’ll be busy
planning his exit from the company.
favourite getaways London and
New York, where he enjoys a game of
cricket or tennis during the season.
The Colors of Money RAGHAV
Because from measuring the heartbeat of the 15
Bombay Stock Exchange, his network now
increases the pulse rate of prime time viewers, 49, Media Baron (18)
with his new channel Colors within striking dis-
tance of the nine-year-long No. 1, Star Plus.
Because three of the biggest hits of last year,
Singh is Kinng, Golmaal Returns and Ghajini, were
owned or distributed by The Indian Film Company.
Because while his two business channels con-
tinue to dominate their spaces, he is expanding
into new media, with Homeshopping18 a Rs 200-
crore property in its second year, and in.com
becoming the second largest Indian general inter-
est portal within six months of its launch.
the big discovery That he likes watching
soaps, especially of his own channel. “Balika
Vadhu for sure, and occasionally, Jaane Kya
Baat Hui, Uttaran and Jeevan Saathi”.
wish he could have Kept some extra cash to
buy media assets which are currently available
at such mouth-watering discounts.
46 INDIA TODAY ◆ MARCH 16, 2009
43, Actor (38)
In His Own League
Because Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na, which he
produced, and Ghajini, which he starred in, were
two of the biggest hits of last year, grossing over
Rs 350 crore at the box office.
Because he is the Establishment’s first choice, be
it endorsing the Ministry of Tourism’s Incredible
India campaign or lecturing at the Lal Bahadur
Shastri Academy of Administration in Mussoorie.
Because he is the face of six brands—his last deal
with Tata Sky wrapped at Rs 14 crore a year.
Because he acquired the best body in Khandom
and made the eight-pack part of public discourse.
currently negotiating The purchase of a
housing society in Santa Cruz, Mumbai.
big surprise That he hasn’t signed on anything
after Raju Hirani’s forthcoming film 3 Idiots and
has only a cameo as a painter in wife Kiran Rao’s
experimental film Dhobi Ghat.
idea of extravagance Gifting a 7-Series BMW to
his nephew after the release of his movie and hiring
a helicopter to make it to his wedding anniversary.
Business As Unusual
Because the Jaypee Group’s ambitious Ganga
Express-way project across 14 districts of Uttar
Pradesh will benefit at least 20 million people.
Because it became India’s largest private
hydropower producer with the commissioning
of the 400 MW Vishnu Prayag station and doubled
its cement production capacity from nine million
tonnes to 18 million tonnes per year.
Because with power, cement, infrastructure, hos-
pitality, real estate and education, the Rs 5,500-
crore Jaypee Associates has a foothold in 14 states
and is the only group in the country that successfully
completed two power projects in Jammu & Kashmir
in the last decade—Dulhasti and Baglihar.
Because he has a great equation with the chief
minister of Uttar Pradesh.
the turning point The death of his elder
brother in 1946 in an accident. Gaur says it
J.P. 17 changed his life, making him a man of steel. He
GAUR says he has not cried since.
78, Industrialist (27) real estate watch A township developed by the
Group at Patiali in Etah district, Uttar Pradesh, over
a 12-year period, at an investment of Rs 25,000
crore. Says it will be bigger than Chandigarh city.
48 INDIA TODAY ◆ MARCH 16, 2009
53, Advocate, (26)
The Argumentative Indian
Because everyone who is in trouble or who believes he
could be in trouble wants him in their corner, whether it is
arch-rivals Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati or long-
time foes Lalit Modi and Subhash Chandra.
Because there is hardly any corporate case that he is not ar-
guing and hardly any politician who hasn’t sought his advice.
Because he usually wins the cases he fights.
what excites him Taking on a former Pakistani
minister in a television debate or arguing against OBC
reservation in Central government educational institutions.
When Salve talks, people usually listen.
big acquisition A 7-series BMW, breaking his promise to
himself that he would “behave”.
nice guy move Every evening he helps his wife
Meenakshi set up a stained-glass showroom by typing e-
mails and suggesting marketing strategies. As he quips,
“it’s from maximum wages to minimum in the evenings”.
I Am Legend
Because a chance remark from him on AMITABH
his blog about Slumdog Millionaire can set 19
off a global controversy. BACHCHAN
Because he is an easy target for marginal
66, Actor (16)
politicians like Raj Thackeray, looking to
establish his political party.
Because after 40 years in the profession,
he still remains at the top of the game, and
is head of a family that includes an articu-
late Rajya Sabha MP, an actor who works
with the best directors in the business, and
another actor who is India’s best-known
Because the family endorses as many as
10 brands combined and whatever he does
sets off a trend, whether it is blogging or
walking the red carpet to support his chil-
dren, be it for Pink Panther 2 or Delhi-6.
favourite pastime Posting blogs
that he discusses at times with his family.
embarrassing moment Walking away
from Rekha at an awards show when it
looked like she was going to kiss him next.
All the Right Moves
Because he is now Disney’s point man in
India, with one of the world’s most powerful
empires acquiring a 60 per cent stake in UTV
Software and 37.29 per cent in UTV Group.
Because UTV’s presence now spans a world
movies channel to a business news network,
gaming to the Internet, and the group has
emerged as a global business, with 200 of its
1,000 employees based overseas.
Because UTV has shown an unusual flour-
ish in backing sensible cinema, from the
edgy terror thriller A Wednesday to the cult
youth film Dev D.
RONNIE 20 acquisition A third gaming company
SCREWVALA and a dream home in Breach Candy that
he and his wife worked on for five years.
51, Media Baron (24)
is reading Billion-Dollar Lessons by Paul
B. Carroll and a lot of scripts.
SHRIYA PATIL SHINDE
Because after reorganising their
infrastructure entity, all projects are
on track even in the current downturn,
and they have refurbished the domes-
tic terminal at Mumbai airport, begun
work on a new terminal as well as kick-
started the 540 MW Goindwal Sahib
power project in Punjab.
Because they have entered into a new
arena by signing up a greenfield port
project in Gujarat and have opened a
new luxury hotel in Chennai.
Because GVK Bio is poised to become
a leader among biotechnology compa-
nies across the world.
signature look Canali suits and
Versace ties for GVK.
favourite vacation spot London
G.V.K. & SANJAY 21
for GVK, Maldives for Sanjay. REDDY
unusual hobby Gardening for GVK 72 and 44,Industrialists (23)
and deep-sea diving for Sanjay.
diet secret Regular diet coupled
with rigorous exercise for GVK;
Sanjay generally avoids carbo- Sanjay (left) and
hydrates and desserts at night. G.V.K. Reddy
A PRABHAKAR RAO
50 INDIA TODAY ◆ MARCH 16, 2009
The First Mogul
Because he is the elder statesman among
media moguls in the country and has a finger in
every media pie, from satellite networks to
cable distribution, from DTH to print.
Because he never gives up and has taken his bat-
tle with BCCI on the Indian Cricket League to the ICC.
Because he has friends and well-wishers across
all political parties and got the President of India
to inaugurate his pet project, The Global Pagoda,
which has the Buddha’s relics in the world’s
tallest pillarless dome.
Because Zee TV may be No. 3 in the Hindi en-
tertainment channels but his regional business,
from Marathi to Bangla, is growing fine.
new passion Interfaith communication,
which he has made a personal mission by
co-founding the Global Foundation for
style statement Maintains a 22
distinctive lock of undyed white hair.
is passionate about Vipassana. Attended 57, Businessman (20)
a programme in 1990, does a 10-day course
every year and practices for 45 minutes daily.
Because his word is the gold standard on any cricket issue.
Because in his 20th year in cricket, he is not only his sport’s Peter
Pan but also owns all the records that matter, most runs and most
centuries both in Tests and ODIs.
Because when Adam Gilchrist criticised him in his book, a
billion people took offence and the Australian cricketer found his
column on an Indian website dropped overnight.
Because when Madame Tussauds measured him for a wax
exhibit last month, India wondered what took them so long.
power tribute Uber-luxury watch-
makers Audemars Piguet’s limited edition
SACHIN Sachin Tendulkar chronograph to mark
23 his 35 Test centuries, releasing just 350
pieces, with the colours of the Indian flag
35, Cricketer (25) on the strap and his jersey number, 10,
bigger and brighter than the rest.
also known as Master Blaster to the outside world, he is
addressed as paaji (elder brother) by his younger teammates.
guest appearances He shows up at his children’s school
sports day if he is in town, usually as chief guest.
KALANIDHI & 24
43 and 42, Media Baron and MP (31)
Because the brothers were able
to manoeuvre out of a serious stand-
off with their grand uncle M.
Karunanidhi and re-establish their
stranglehold on the satellite and cable
business in the south.
Because the powerful presence of
one brother in mass media and the
other in party politics enables them to
pump prime their business.
Because they are expanding in every
arena, with four hit movies from their
newly launched film production com-
pany, and more niche additions to
their 20-channel Sun TV network.
cool new toys 3G iphone and Mac Book
Air for Kalanidhi; Canon EOS-1D Mark III
camera for Dayanidhi.
centre of gravity Daughter Kaviya for
Terra Pharma SHIVINDER
Because even as the world economy crumbles around MOHAN SINGH
them, they have proved to be the smartest and the lucki-
est, selling a majority stake in Ranbaxy for Rs 10,000
crore, while retaining control of the company.
Because Malvinder Mohan Singh got the Japanese giant
Daichii-Sankyo to complete the acquisition of a 63.92 per
cent stake after the global meltdown late last year.
Because Shivinder Mohan Singh’s Fortis Healthcare
emerged from years of losses to post a 21 per cent increase
in consolidated total income in the last quarter.
MMS and SMS That’s what friends call them. They
are both vegetarians, teetotallers, and devout followers of
the Radha Soami Satsang in Beas.
yes it’s true To avoid being dressed identically, turbans
included, the brothers call
each other every morning.
pay your way The brothers MALVINDER MOHAN & 25
pay to use their own jets be- SHIVINDER MOHAN SINGH
cause ‘it’s a business venture,
not a lifestyle statement’. 36 & 33, Industrialists, (New)
27, Cricketer, (35)
Because under his leadership, India won the
T20 World Cup and he is now captain of India in
all three forms of the game.
Because he has become the country’s most
sellable cricketer after Sachin Tendulkar, endors-
ing 15 brands, from clothes to cold drinks.
Because he is nobody’s puppet, ticking off the
national selectors this season for leaks from the
touch of class Won heaps of praise for his
graciousness during the retirements of Anil Kumble
and Sourav Ganguly last season.
latest acquisition A Hummer to add to the four
cars and 17 high-speed motorcyles already parked
in his garage in Ranchi.
smart move Broke away from the sports mar-
keting agency that had signed him on, to join a
new company, Mindscapes India.
62, Banker (13)
Banking on Trust
Because a lesser mortal would not have been
able to protect ICICI Bank from the heat of the
Because everyone from Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh to P. Chidambaram to Montek Singh Ahluwalia
spoke up for him during the crisis and every corporate
chieftain worth his market cap vouched for the in-
tegrity of the bank.
Because ICICI is the largest private insurance
company, the topmost private equity player, the num-
ber one online broking outfit and the leader in retail
credit, with total assets of Rs 3.74 lakh crore and a
group income of Rs 62,000 crore.
milestone 2009 Will be chairman from May 1, but
his salary will take a big hit.
is sure to be Following tennis and F1 racing.
53, Entrepreneur (New)
58, Actor, (28)
Big Brother ELATTUVALAPIL
Because the one-time carpenter and SREEDHARAN
conductor has fanatics extending from Japan
76, Engineer (19)
to Korea, and his 38,000 registered fan clubs
around the world with an estimated 19 lakh
members are waiting for him to start his own
Because at Rs 26 crore a film, he’s the most
highly paid star in southern India.
Because every time he stars in a flop,
such as Kuselan, he compensates his
distributors and bounces back with a
big budget blockbuster, such as Shankar’s
Rs 150-crore film, Endiran.
Because no protest or celebration in Tamil
tinseltown is complete without his presence.
spiritual guru Swami Satchidananda of
Rishikesh, on whose call he made a movie,
Baba, before the Swami’s death in 2002.
unforgettable number 10A, the route
number on which he was a conductor in his
early days in Bangalore.
his political icon Former Singapore
premier Lee Kuan Yew.
60 INDIA TODAY ◆ MARCH 16, 2009
The Thinkmaker Land Lord
Because the chairman of the $4.5 billion Because despite the economic
IT behemoth wrote a bestselling book of ideas,
downturn, he’s still one of the largest
Imagining India, and has become an articu-
private landholders in the country, with
late catalyst of change, who’s embedded in
751 million square feet of real estate
top government councils at home and in in-
waiting to be built up.
fluential economic forums globally, repre-
Because he may have lost $27.2 bill-
senting the voice of India.
ion since March, but his fortune is still
Because he’s the only Indian on the founda- valued at $7.8 billion, down from $30
tion board of the World Economic Forum, is a
billion last year.
member of the prestigious Petersen Institute
of International Economics, and was again how’s the loss affecting him?
the solitary Indian to have spoken at the invi- “It’s only paper,” he says.
tation-only Technology Entertainment and
Design (TED) in California. recession index Hasn’t bought any-
Because he’s welcomed not just on the prime thing new to wear in the past four years
minister’s council at the Centre but on numer- because he realised he hadn’t worn 60
ous committees of a rival state government. per cent of the clothes in his wardrobe.
awkward moment Wife Rohini insists big mantra Prosperity is the time
on asking questions when he is delivering a for austerity. Don’t wait for adversity.
lecture in public. K.P.
31 favourite haunts Harry’s Bar and
SINGH Groucho Club, London, and Breeze, a
proud moment When wife Rohini set up
the Arghyam Foundation with a corpus of 77, Businessman (10) 52nd floor rooftop Bangkok restaurant.
Rs 150 crore to focus on water management. BANDEEP SINGH
Because he will always have an
Truth Mascot opinion and people who matter will
always lend an ear, especially now
Because he’s the last word on objec- that he has a bigger pulpit in the
tivity, whether it’s the Hyderabad Metro Rajya Sabha.
project or the airport modernisation in Because the Bajaj Group revenues
Delhi and Mumbai. are revving up to cross Rs 20,000
Because he has made the Capital appear crore this year and Bajaj Auto, with
a world-class metropolis, making the Delhi over Rs 7,000 crore in cash reserves,
Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) the most is as good as a bank.
punctual metro transport in the world, Because finally there is peace in
with 99.5 per cent punctuality last year. Hamara Bajaj—he not only settled
Because DMRC has helped save over 700 the Bajaj family dispute but also
lives till date by avoiding road accidents, put in place a succession plan,
has reduced consumption of petrol, diesel with a business each for sons Rajiv
and CNG by 1,19,025 tonnes and saved 66 and Sanjeev.
minutes every day per commuter. Because Bajaj Auto owns 30 per
cent of Austrian performance bike
strange,but true Hasn’t taken a vaca-
tion in 20 years. His only break was taking
a few days off when travelling to England uncanny knack To be at the
on work, to spend time with his son. right place at the right time. On
September 16, the day after Wall
is particular about Often swipes his fin- Street collapsed, he was attending RAHUL
ger along the floor of the metro train as 32
the NYSE advisory board meeting. BAJAJ
well as the platform to check for dirt.
little known fact Bajaj has been 70, Industrialist (36)
a debt-free company for 30 years.
MARCH 16, 2009 ◆ INDIA TODAY 61
people RAJENDRA K.
68, Environmentalist (33)
Because global warming is still the hottest subject around the world
and he remains one of its most visible proponents after being re-elected
chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Because he is a key adviser to the Central Government on the issue and
is equally sought after by state chief ministers.
time off Has just completed a novel, Return to Almora.
tough guy talk “Nothing that the world is doing today is sustainable.
We are going to cause enormous hardships for all species in the
planet. We need to mobilise the youth, that’s our only hope.”
big acquisition The BlackBerry 9000.
King of Bling
Because whatever he does gets talked about,
whether it’s the good times or the bad times.
Because he’s still the second largest liquor baron in
the world, selling nearly three million bottles a day.
Because regardless of the losses, Kingfisher has
emerged as the leading player in terms of market
share after the merger with Deccan.
finds time for Personally supervising the scan-
tily clad model shoots on the Kingfisher calendar.
can he explain Spending Rs 8 crore on Kevin
Pietersen for a team that can’t seem to win.
RAMESH & SUDHIR
66 and 41,Media Barons (37)
No Full Stops
Because the Dainik Bhaskar Group has a presence
in seven states, accounting for 30 per cent of the
country, and continues to expand, adding a Bangalore
edition to the Mumbai DNA and a Hindi business
daily, Business Bhaskar.
Because the group along with DNA is slated to close the
financial year with Rs 1,400 crore in revenue.
big discovery The regional market is more valuable.
Metros only account for a fraction of the population.
VIJAY recession mantra Good times are boring and it’s the
34 tough times that spur good thinking.
road ahead The company will focus on cutting costs
53, Industrialist (8) and consolidating its position in their existing markets.
Fast and Furious
Because Season II of the IPL promises to be bigger,
bulkier and better, establishing the potent mix of big
business, Bollywood and India’s most powerful sport.
Because he’s forever controversial, whether it is
for his proximity to politicians or his confrontationist
stand against cricket’s Old Powers.
Because IPL’s success has “persuaded” otherwise
reluctant nations into agreeing to a window for a T20 club
event to keep their players happy.
reality check His mentor Vasundhara Raje lost the
Rajasthan Assembly elections and he was defeated in
the Rajasthan Cricket Association’s elections.
management style Micro. Is particular about who
VENUGOPAL 36 gets VIP tickets, mostly allocating them himself.
DHOOT wants IPL to become Like F1, Wimbledon, Super Bowl.
55, Industrialist (39)
loves to Compose what
people say are the longest
The Right Connect LALIT emails ever received
38 from a BlackBerry.
Because despite the slowdown, he is expanding in MODI
every direction with Videocon launching its own DTH
service in April, mobile telephony service by July, 45, Businessman (29)
kickstarting 10 oil-fields in Brazil with Petrobras, invest-
ing in coal mines in Indonesia and building three power
projects in West Bengal, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh.
Because the price warrior of the consumer electronics
business will tote up group revenues of over Rs 19,000
crore this year, with Next becoming India’s largest
electronics goods retail chain with 1,100 stores, and
investments in the new big thing, energy.
Because he has a phalanx of stars at his beck and call.
magic moment When Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh called Videocon the proud face of Global India.
hidden talent Can recite shlokas and expound on
the Bhagavad Gita. Also plays the flute.
BABA Because his followers continue to grow, as he acquires
RAMDEV the Aastha channel that gets him 20 million viewers daily,
conducts international camps and takes off on yoga cruises
35, Yoga Guru (46) at $1,000 ticket a head.
Because he is the richest yogi, having collected Rs 500
crore so far through his camps, and has celebrity fans
ranging from Lalu Prasad Yadav to Kangna Ranaut.
his latest conquest The IIM-A, where he talked about
Indian values in modern management techniques.
believe it or not Insists breathing exercises can rege-
nerate destroyed cells and help the HIV-positive recover.
MAHENDRA MOHAN & Because he is poised for a shot
SANJAY GUPTA at the leadership of the financial
sector as the titans ride into the
69 and 46,Media Barons (45) sunset, with Kotak Bank being the
fourth largest bank after HDFC,
ICICI and Axis, making it the largest
Leaders of the Pack promoter-owned bank.
Because 21 million people read Because despite the global reces-
Dainik Jagran every day across 11 sion, his bank boasts of a capital
states and Jagran Prakash is a adequacy ratio of 21 per cent, and
listed media company with quality in the shortest time, he has
market performance. straddled every slice of the financial
Because despite being a Rajya sector to emerge as a conglomerate
Sabha member, Gupta Senior’s clout with 18,000 employees and assets of
extends across parties. over Rs 40,000 crore.
started life By walking around
different strokes Gupta Senior Mumbai’s financial district,
prefers domestic destinations helping traders discount bills.
for holidays, while the nephew
is a globe-trotter. new obsession Applying the
‘black swan’ theory on
business mantra While current events.
Mahendra gives full credit to the
team for making the newspaper an little known fact He is a
influential opinion-maker, Sanjay professionally trained sitar player.
is a man of few words.
Because he is trying to weather
the storm in aviation by transitioning
from the traditional orthodox revenue
model to an innovative one—wet-leasing
his aircraft to other international airlines.
Because his airline still leads the pack
with a market share of over 25 per cent
and more than eight lakh passengers are
on board across 400 flights each day.
embarrassing moment Fired 1,900
of his staff, then took them back amidst
tears, calling them his ‘family’.
looming air pocket Nearly 30 per
cent of an airline’s operational costs are
pegged against the dollar.
laughter therapy “CEOs are
NARESH 40 handsome, entrepreneurs are ugly”. UDAY
big achievement Jet is cutting costs
60, Businessman (34) in the back-end without compromising 49, Banker (New)
on its renowned in-flight service.
64 INDIA TODAY ◆ MARCH 16, 2009
A PRABHAKAR RAO
Because despite its rapidly slipping ratings, NDTV
24X7 remains a strong news brand and he is still its most
Because he’s a great media survivor in spite of a consol-
idated loss of Rs 120 crore last year in his entertainment
and news business.
show of force Threatening legal action against a blog-
ger for his comments on how star editor Barkha Dutt
covered the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai.
moment of truth Letter to staffers admitting the organi-
sation has “substantial flab” and “too many floaters”.
what they need
According to the letter to
their staff, more ideas on
PRANNOY & 42
how to cut costs. RADHIKA ROY
59, Media Barons (22) 43
76, Doctor (42)
Because he is the largest private health care
provider in India and plans to ramp up infrastructure to
3,000 hospital beds, with 1,400 beds in Mumbai alone.
Because Apollo has fetched a record five global JCI ac-
creditations for developing world class hospitals with
top patient safety standards.
unusual hobby Wandering in the mango gardens in
his native village, Aragonda, 150 km from Chennai.
kinship factor Though none is a doctor, all his four
daughters—Preetha, Sunitha, Shobana, Sangeeta—two
adult grandsons and two adult granddaughters are in-
volved in managing the Apollo Group.
Because he’s the latest in a long line of Indian mystics capturing the
imagination of the West with 100 yoga centres around the world.
Because he spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos three years in a row.
Because he makes a combination of yoga, green activism and spiritual therapy
seem as elevating as it is hip.
style statement Green. Has initiated Project Green Hands, a move to increase
the green cover of Tamil Nadu by 33 per cent in the next 15 years.
power point Endorsed by M. Karunanidhi, his
followers range from Nandita Das and Prahlad
JAGGI 44 Kakkar to Microsoft’s Ravi Venkatesh.
likes to Go for long rides on his BMW and
52, Guru (New) Harley Davidson bikes, gifted by devotees.
63, Social Arbiter (40)
Because she’s the original style
icon who organises charity events
with as much panache as she does
black-tie dos for the Moet set.
Because neither Bollywood’s best
nor Hollywood’s hautest refuse to
support her Heroes Project for
Because she’s one of the few people
on intimate terms with both the
little known fact That she is deeply
spiritual and visits a temple in Patiala
with the family every birthday.
the big acquisition Her son’s re-
turn to India, after many years, with
her daughter-in-law Karla.
45, Entrepreneur (50)
Because he has built access across
the political spectrum with a mix of busi-
ness, politics and media interests.
Because he sits pretty both in Parlia-
ment and atop Rs 2,500 crore in his ven-
Because he, along with Star TV, con-
trols the second largest television net-
work in the South.
Because he takes on the Government
over economic and security issues.
the drive His fleet has Ferraris, BMWs
and India’s largest collection of Land Rov-
ers. His favourite is a red Lamborghini.
the digital statement He asked his
Facebook friends if he should join a po-
litical party. The most practical advice
came from Omar Abdullah.
Champion of the Board
Because he is world champion and one-man revolution all rolled into
one, and is India’s highest-paid sportsperson, with the appearance fees ru-
moured to be $250,000 depending on who wants him to play.
Because he is the face of the NIIT Mind Champions Academy that has taken
chess e-learning in schools from 1,605 clubs in 2003 to 6,551 clubs and 7.4
lakh members in 2008.
power move Winning his third world
chess championship in Germany. VISWANATHAN 47
little known fact His passion for rock ANAND
music—from the Rolling Stones to U2. 38, Chess Grandmaster (New)
Because he has taken to heart
the provision of affordable health
care by creating large health cities 56, Doctor (New)
in seven cities.
Because he conceptualised the
world’s cheapest health insurance
programme, Yeshaswini Micro
Health Insurance, that covers three
million beneficiaries in Karnataka
alone, at Rs 5 a month each.
big fight Practices a martial art
known as Budokan Karate.
N.K. big number He has performed
49 more than 10,000 heart opera-
SINGH tions with one of the highest suc-
68, MP (New) cess rates worldwide.
SUMEET INDER SINGH
The Write Stuff
Because he is much sought after
for his eclectic intellect and has the Because he is one of the
ability to bring together at dinner, few independent intellectuals in India,
whether at his Vasant Vihar home or rated 44 in a list of the 100 most influ-
at Davos, billionaires, international ential intellectuals worldwide last year
leaders, think-tank types and multi- by Foreign Policy magazine.
lateral agency chiefs. Because he makes academics look
Because this was the year he was cool, writing with as much ease on Ve-
finally elected to the Rajya Sabha, rrier Elwin as on cricket.
thanks to Nitish Kumar. Because he’s not afraid of taking an
unpopular stand—even if it is urging
cool buddies George Yeo to Nich- Arundhati Roy to stick to writing for
olas Stern, L.N. Mittal to Mukesh Am- backing the Narmada Bachao Andolan.
bani, Sunil Mittal to Anand Mahindra.
writing style Disciplined. Every day
pet project Preparing a blueprint RAMACHANDRA 50 from 9 a.m. to 1.30 p.m.
for the revival of Nalanda University. GUHA next move A prequel to India
his music Listening to Kishori Am- 51, Historian (New) After Gandhi about the first half
onkar on his Bang & Olufsen system. of the 20th century.
68 INDIA TODAY ◆ MARCH 16, 2009