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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Influentials: Top 10 India's Power Women

Ranging from prominent faces in the fields of politics, science, sports, business, entertainment and the arts, we felt each of these women could be best described by the people who know them personally or professionally. So here they are in no particular order.

Overcoming all odds: Sonia Gandhi

Chairperson, UPA and president, Indian National Congress
Soniaji took over the Congress when the party was at its lowest point and people were deserting it in droves. She braved the taunts and criticisms of opponents and went on to revive the party. In 2004, when she renounced the post of prime minister, she proved that for her the country, its people and our party are most important. The decision forced people to change their views on Soniaji. Soniaji has a strong humanitarian streak. Whenever disaster strikes, you will find her rushing to help. Women have a special place in her heart. She wants to see them become equal partners with men in all spheres. -- Ambika Soni , Union information and broadcasting minister

One to bank on: Chanda Kochhar

Chanda's leadership qualities have been evident from the time she started her career. From early on, she was selected to drive new businesses which she led admirably to scale and leadership.In each role, she brought to bear her sound commonsense, team-building capability, focus on stakeholders, and an ability to stay calm and balanced in challenging situations. She has built a brilliant career while nurturing a family as a devoted wife and mother, setting an outstanding example for women everywhere. She commands respect and influence because she leads by example, demonstrating that no goal is too difficult to achieve. -- KV Kamath, non-executive chairman of the Board of Directors of ICICI Bank Limited

Count on her: Sushma Swaraj

The Influentials: Top 50 India's Power Women
Leader of opposition in Lok Sabha
Sushmaji is a well-educated woman and has reached her current position by sheer hard work. She is an understanding and capable leader. She considers everybody's opinions and cares for everyone. She loves everyone, including the poor and people younger to her, and respects elders. No detail is too small for her. One may not have her around to share their happiness with, but she will definitely be with you to share your moment of grief. She takes initiatives, encourages youngsters and never compromises on her principles. -- Shahnawaz Hussain, BJP MP

Working quietly: Priyanka Gandhi Vadra

The Influentials: Top 50 India's Power Women
Political leader
Priyanka Gandhi is a very modest person despite her family background. Few know that she takes time out of her busy schedule for disabled and mentally ill children every week. For the past few years she has been visiting the Jangpura branch of the Missionaries of Charity in Delhi every week. The children call her Didi. On her birthday and other important occasions she distributes gifts and food among the poor and the disabled. But she never seeks publicity for these actions. That's what makes her so special. -- Sister Annaleen, head of the Missionaries of Charity, Jangpura

Mother figure: Lata Mangeshkar

The Influentials: Top 50 India's Power Women
Singer and Bharat Ratna award
The Mangeshkar sisters have always done things our way. Our grit and determination is something that runs in our blood. I have looked up to Latadidi all my life. She sometimes jokes that she is my mother and let me tell you that I really look up to her as one. I am very scared of her too. On Women's Day, the only woman that comes to my mind is my didi who has truly achieved heights of success and greatness. I think she is the ideal example of what a woman can achieve, despite the odds. -- Asha Bhonsle, highly regarded playback singer and sister of Lata Mangeshkar

Global visionary: Sudha Murthy

The Influentials: Top 50 India's Power Women

Social worker and author
Sudha is a brilliant intellectual. She's strong, compassionate and articulate and has always been a high achiever. She is also a very good teacher. She has travelled extensively and imbibed various cultures. She is a global citizen with a very good understanding of political and economic issues of different countries around the world. If she had pursued a career, she would have been an entrepreneur and the most powerful woman in the country today. To sum it up -- she is a role model for all Indian women. -- Subhash Dhar , senior vice president, marketing head and executive council member, Infosys Technologies

Loving spirit: Mata Amritanandamayi

The Influentials: Top 50 India's Power Women

Spiritual leader
I was eight when I first met her. To me, Amma is Love Incarnate, the Universal Mother. It's the utter unconditionality of her hug -- lepers, millionaires, film stars, the poor and the unwashed -- all get the exact same warm, motherly embrace. Just imagine, 30 million have felt it across the world in the last 30 years. It's unbelievable and for that split second, all barriers are gone. She doesn't say pray to me, she says I'll pray for you. Who does that today? She doesn't want you to convert, but her quintessential message is, unselfish love alone can change the world, whatever your religious call. -- Vidya Balan, prominent Bollywood actor

Young prodigy: Saina Nehwal

The Influentials: Top 50 India's Power Women

Badminton champion
When Saina came to me, there was never an iota of doubt about her talent. But the way she has grown from there has surprised me. What always stood out was her grit and determination to make it big. She would run down every shuttle. Imagine, she has done so much at the age of only 20. With more experience she can only become better. The potential she has is also immense, so I do believe she has it to become the biggest women's sporting icon in the country in years to come. -- Pullela Gopichand, badminton champion and Saina Nehwal's coach

Woman on top: Nita Ambani

The Influentials: Top 50 India's Power Women
Educationist and entrepreneur
Nita is a natural born leader. She'll always be on top of her game -- and stay there. I have watched her change and evolve over the years. Today she is very much her own woman -- self-assured and super-confident. She is a symbol of all that is aspirational and achievable. Nita has leveraged her unique position for self-growth and for setting up first-rate institutions. She could so easily have turned into yet another pampered billionairess, but she hasn't. The fact that she hasn't forgotten her middle-class roots is her biggest strength. -- Shobhaa De, author and socialite

Full of surprises: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan

The Influentials: Top 50 India's Power Women

Actor and Padma Shri awardee
Besides being very beautiful and elegant, Aishwarya has an effervescent personality. She's a very strong individual and very hard-working too. But at the same time, she's also very lively and fun to be with. It's also very interesting to indulge in a conversation with her, as she's extremely well-informed. I remember, while travelling on location to Machu-Pichu for Robot, we travelled for two days but she didn't once complain, despite the harsh journey. In fact, she was fun to travel with and she even kept everybody going. I was also amazed by her knowledge of Bollywood film numbers. She can be full of surprises.
-- Manish Malhotra, leading fashion designer with many Bollywood clients

Energy centre: Mamata Banerjee

Railway minister and Trinamool Congress chief
Mamata didi is full of great capabilities. Her ordinary lifestyle touches a chord with every social stratum. Her image is that of a fighter. There are not many leaders like her nowadays. She has all the energy and the ability to swim against the tide. Her life is like an open book. She has always been concerned about the poor. She can go to any extent for them. If she becomes West Bengal's CM, she will certainly cleanse the dirt within political circles. She never compromises on values like honesty and secularism. -- Shahnawaz Hussain , BJP MP







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