There are 6.8 billion people on the planet of which Forbes made a list of “the 68 who matter”, in its second annual compilation of the most power people in the world that was released on Wednesday. The smorgasbord collection of people was chosen “because, in various ways, they bend the world to their will”.
Ousting Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani from last year’s list at number 38, Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was the only Pakistani on the list at number 29. According to Forbes, Kayani “wrested power from Pakistan’s fledgling civilian government in the aftermath of devastating floods. The quiet army chief is now Pakistan’s de facto leader. Kayani controls Pakistan’s powerful intelligence agency and has recently demanded President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani to dismiss corrupt members of their bloated 60-member cabinet”
The Chinese President Hu Jintao gave his last year’s second position to United States President Barack Obama since Hu “exercises near dictatorial control over 1.3 billion people, one-fifth of the world’s population, and unlike his Western counterparts, Hu can divert rivers, build cities, jail dissidents and censor the Internet without meddling from pesky bureaucrats and courts”.
Obama as last year’s Forbes’ most powerful person on the list faced “quiet a comedown”. “After enacting widespread reforms in his first two years in office, Obama will be hard-pressed to implement his agenda in the next two,” said Forbes. Styling Obama as holding the unofficial title of the “Leader of the Free World”, Forbes said that Obama could take comfort into being the “Commander-in-chief of the world’s largest and most dynamic economy with the deadliest military force”.
Ignored last year but number 9 this year, President of Indian National Congress Sonia Gandhi is one of the four Indians that made the list for “wielding unequalled influence over 1.2 billion Indians”. Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh was number 18 as “Sonia Gandhi’s inspired choice and the best prime minister India has seen since Nehru”. Other Indians to make the list were Lakhsmi Mittal who rose to 44 from number 55 and Ratan Tata fell to 61 from 59.
Since the criteria used by Forbes — whether the person has influence over a lot of people, whether they have significant wealth compared to their peers, whether they are powerful in more than one sphere and whether they actively wield power — can be defined for good or ill, Forbes listed three criminals among the most powerful. Among those was Osama bin Laden who fell in rank from number 37 to 57 this year. Joaquin Guzmán, the billionaire drug trafficker of Mexico was at number 60 and Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar, head of a Mumbai-based crime syndicate, was on 63rd position.
Other interesting people on the list were Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at 40, Oprah Winfrey at 64 and Julian Assange, editor in chief of WikiLeaks at 39.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: Nov 5, 2010
An earlier version of this article misstated Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani as President Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani .
Published in The Express Tribune, November 5th, 2010.