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Ratan Tata, Sonia Gandhi in <em>Forbes'</em> powerful list

Ratan Tata, Sonia Gandhi in Forbes' powerful list

Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, RIL Chairman Mukesh Ambani, Steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal and Tata Sons Chairman make it to the coveted list.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Tata Sons Chairman Ratan Tata are among five Indians named in Forbes' most powerful list this year.

Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani and steel giant ArcelorMittal Chairman Lakshmi Mittal also make it to this year's list.

China's President Hu Jintao has topped the 2010 Forbes list of the 'World's Most Powerful People'.

For the top spot, Jintao pipped US President Barack Obama, who comes in at second place. Of the 6.8 billion people on the planet, Forbes' list comprises "the 68 who matter".

Heads of state, major religious figures, entrepreneurs and outlaws on the second annual list were chosen "because, in various ways, they bend the world to their will. Sonia Gandhi debuts on the 9th spot in this year's list of the world's most powerful people.

Incidentally, she was not featured in Forbes' recent list of the world's most powerful women.

Recently elected to record fourth term as head of India's ruling Congress Party, 63-year old Gandhi has cemented her "status as true heiress to the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty."

Forbes said despite her Italian birth, foreign religion (Roman Catholic) and political reluctance, "Gandhi wields unequaled influence over 1.2 billion Indians."

Having "handpicked brainy Sikh economist Manmohan Singh" as Prime Minister, Forbes said Gandhi remains the real power behind the nuclear-tipped throne.

She is now grooming her 40-year-old son Rahul for prime minister's role.

Singh, "universally praised as India's best prime minister since Nehru," is ranked 18th on the list. He has moved up in the list from last year's 36th position.

Forbes said the soft-spoken Oxford-trained economist is "ideally trained to lead the world's fourth-largest economy in terms of purchasing power into the next decade."

Credited with transforming India's quasi-socialist economy into world's second-fastest growing, 78-year old Singh is now enjoying the fruits of free-market policies he implemented as India's finance minister in early 1990s.

With the World Bank forecasting India's gross domestic product (GDP) to surge 7.6 per cent in 2010 and another eight per cent in 2011 - not far behind its 9 per cent forecast for China - Forbes said this is clearly the case of "slow and steady will win the race."

Other world leaders making it to the list are newly elected Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on the 16th spot, French President Nicolas Sarkozy (19), US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (20), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (24) and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (41).

Among the business leaders, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates ranks 10th, followed by News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch (13), Apple CEO Steve Jobs (17), Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin (22), Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett (33), Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (40), ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson (49) and media personality Oprah Winfrey (64).

"In a clear sign of the times," Zuckerberg ranked 10 spots higher than the executive editor of The New York Times, Bill Keller (50).

Ambani, who has a networth of $29 billion, comes in on the 34th spot. His ranking, too, improved from last year, when he was ranked 44th. The 53-year old "business maharaja" is Asia's richest person, who certainly likes to live like a king, the magazine wrote.

His $1 billion, 27-floor high-rise in Mumbai, is the world's most expensive private residence.

His petrochemicals conglomerate Reliance Industries is India's most-valuable private sector company with a market cap of $80 billion. It accounts for nearly five per cent of India's GDP and 15 per cent of exports.

The Reliance refinery at Jamnagar in western India can process 1.24 million barrels daily, making it world's single-largest refining complex in one location.

"The firm is setting up a joint venture in Marcellus Shale, one of the most promising gas deposit regions in the US," Forbes said.

Occupying the 44th spot is Lakshmi Mittal, chairman of the world's largest steel company ArcelorMittal.

The 60-year old steel magnate has a networth of $28.7 billion. Mittal moved up 11 notches in this year's ranking from his 55th spot last year.

London's wealthiest resident, Mittal is sponsoring London's 2012 Olympic games, paying for most of a 400-foot twisting steel tower to be named ArcelorMittal Orbit at the city's Olympic Park and helping groom Indian athletes through his foundation for the Olympics and other championship events.

His company has operations in 60 countries and produces 73 million tonnes of steel, eight per cent of world's output. One out of five cars in the world is made with its materials.

Ratan Tata dropped two notches from last year and comes in at the 61st position in the Forbes 2010 list of the world's most powerful.

Calling the 72-year old Tata Sons head as "India's best brand ambassador," Forbes said Tata made "automotive history" last year with his 'People's Car' - the $2,200 Tata Nano, the world's cheapest car.

"In a nation of a billion, environmentalists call it eco-disaster. After Nano debuted in 2008, India's passenger car sales rose the most in three years in 2009. Three competitors are now working on Nano copycats," Forbes said.