From the Editor

It's not just serendipity that the state of Indian banking 16 years ago sounds similar to the plight of banks in the US and UK today.

The financial fallout of the scam - which bared the manner in which the banks made profit by lending huge sums of money against nonexisting securities - is reflected in almost every bottom line." Reads like a description of the US banks reeling under the impact of last year's subprime crisis? It's not. It's a statement from Business Today's first Best Banks study, released way back in December 1993.

It's not just serendipity that the state of Indian banking 16 years ago sounds similar to the plight of banks in the US and UK today. Leafing through the pages of BT's annual best bank studies done over the last decade-and-a-half, one comes across a story of a remarkable transformation. Shaken by the 1992 securities scam, the state-owned banks had collectively posted a loss of over $1 billion and foreign banks had swept the top 18 places in our first ranking. Of course, Indian banks were also caught between the pincers of directed investment (in government securities) and directed lending (priority sector concessional loans) and were frequently recapitalised by the government.

Today, some iconic global banks are surviving on government bailouts (the US government owns 34 per cent in Citibank and British government owns 70 per cent of RBS), whereas Indian (private and government-owned) banks have posted profits of over $9.6 billion (Rs 45,036 crore) in 2008-09. ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank-which weren't even around in 1993- have grown aggressively and efficiently in the face of stiff competition. But as the scars of the subprime crisis heal, foreign banks will raise the competitive bar yet again and corporate India, riding a recovery wave, will soon be hungry for funds. Our cover package brings out the achievements-and also the challenges-of Indian banking in this watershed year.

After a year of freeze on increments and pause of promotions, most executives are looking ahead to better prospects in the months ahead. But what if your superlative performance does not get you a promotion? Find the answers right here.

Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo, the most powerful woman in global business, has a simple prescription: "Don't start off drawing yourself a blueprint saying, I want to be a CEO. It doesn't happen that way. Life is not linear. Just do the job you are doing exceedingly well and life will take care of itself." She told this to a packed hall at a BT function to felicitate the most powerful women in Indian business. Here we present the highlights of this function where Nooyi conveyed the true meaning of power. Real power, according to her, comes only from being honest, erudite and excellent - at all times.