People who deserve to be on list of 100 most influential

Intrigued by Santosh’s comment to my last post, I decided to do something that I had neglected while writing the same. I decided to go through the entire list of 200 odd people who have been nominated by TIME for 100 most influential people.

The list held several surprises for me, and I must confess I was unable to see the rationale behind their selection. I could not determine any single logic that holds true for all the nominees, and I think there should be an underlying parameter which is used to determine the candidates. Like Fortune magazine does for compiling Fortune 500.

I also went through the list of TIME 100 for 2009, and was quite disappointed. I saw many names which can hardly be called influential (as per my definition of influential), and the list was largely dominated by American personalities. What hurt even more was that there were only two Indians on the list!! A billion strong, representing one sixth of global population, and just two names on a list of hundred!

As Gabbar would’ve said – Bohot nainsaafi hai (highly unjust).

I’d read somewhere: The truth normally does not come in Black or white, but in various shades of grey. Of late, this certainly seems to hold true for major nominations and award, starting from Noble Prize where Obama was awarded. But alas, who am I to judge the mysterious ways of these global giants?

My take on compiling the list of 100 most influential people would be to select people who have actively worked towards making a difference, be it by action, donation or any other means. Achievers, no matter how great, will not feature in the list merely because of their outstanding performance. What they achieve is inspirational, but thats a different ball game altogether.

From the TIME nominations for 2010, I think the following truly deserve to be on the list. Rest, not so much. Here is the list, in no specific order of preference:

    Living History
  1. Hillary Clinton: As the U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary, with her commitment to foreign aid is re-emphasizing the State Department's role in controlling development projects around the world and defending human rights worldwide.

    Testimony: France, Europe, and the World in the Twenty-First Century
  1. Nicolas Sarkozy: As the President of France, Sarkozy has set a pace of reform and policymaking that allies and opponents alike struggle to keep up with. Refusing what he scorns as artificial ideological constraints, Sarkozy unapologetically swaps market liberalism with French interventionism depending on the challenge before him — a pragmatic method that has produced decidedly mixed results at home. He has similarly insisted on floating unorthodox and controversial initiatives abroad, including calls for strict regulation of international financial markets, targets for reducing global warming that were rejected in Copenhagen and a harder line with Iran that he publicly lectured President Obama on. Sarkozy may not always get the results he is after, but he's a mesmerizing force in seeking to obtain them.

    Michelle Obama: An American Story
  1. Michelle Obama: The U.S. First lady has chosen to use it to combat childhood obesity. Her Let's Move campaign works to promote exercise for sedentary kids, and she has courted controversy by calling on food manufacturers to provide healthier options at the grocery store.

    Charlie Rose Arne Duncan (March 11, 2009)
  1. Arne Duncan: President Obama's Education Secretary, who has been given $100 billion to reshape public schools in America, has launched a major initiative to rework President George W. Bush's signature No Child Left Behind Act. Pushing for more school hours, better teacher training and more competition from charter schools, Duncan has the advantage of tapping into one of the few issues with bipartisan support in Washington. (Now that’s a job that really will make a difference to lots of lives!)

    The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream (Vintage)
  1. Barack Obama: As a famous Indian movie dialogue goes – Naam to suna hi hoga. Need I say more about this gentleman? But, I’ll still quote TIME’s citation: President Obama's first year in the Oval Office was rocky, as he struggled to fight two wars, right a listing economy and enact an ambitious domestic agenda. But by winning a bitter partisan battle over health care, he became the first Democratic President in 40 years to enact a historic piece of social welfare legislation — an achievement that bolsters his presidency as he braces for the coming fight over financial re-regulation.

    Up Close: Oprah Winfrey
  1. Oprah Winfrey: Again, this is one personality who does not need any introduction. Even though she has declared that her talk show will end in 2011, she has been active in many charities behind the scene, and has helped mobilize funds for welfare and various causes.

    The Splendid Magic of Penny Arcade: The 11 1/2 Anniversary Edition
  1. The Penny Arcade Co-Creators: Since launching in 1998, Penny Arcade has become one of the most popular and longest-running gaming webcomics. But what qualifies them for this list is the fact that Holkins and Krahulik have parlayed that success into other ventures, like their charity Child's Play — which delivers toys and video games to children in hospitals worldwide.

    My Life
  1. Bill Clinton: The former President still has enough global power and popularity that he can move the needle on a lot of matters: the fight against AIDS, a sticky diplomatic issue in North Korea, the rebuilding of postquake Haiti and the banning of soft drinks in public schools. It doesn't hurt that he's married to the Secretary of State. 

    To the Nation, for the Nation: Selections from Selected Speeches of Dr. Manmohan Singh
  1. Manmohan Singh: If he weren't so unfailingly modest, Singh could claim double bragging rights for India's emergence as one of the world's leading nations: as its Finance Minister in the 1990s, he instituted the reforms that fired up the Indian economic engine; and as Prime Minister for the past six years, he has provided the political stability that allowed it to accelerate. Small wonder that voters returned his Congress Party to power last year with a stronger mandate.

  2. Simon CowellI Don't Mean to be Rude, But...: The Truth About Fame, Fortune and My Life in Music: It speaks volumes about Cowell's global influence on popular culture that numerous other candidates for the 2010 TIME 100 (Susan Boyle, Cheryl Cole, Adam Lambert) owe their careers to the sardonic talent-show judge, hitmaker and media mogul. The creator of American Idol and America's Got Talent and equivalent shows in many other countries, Cowell revealed to Jay Leno that he once turned down dinner with President Obama: "Our diaries didn't quite match."

  3. Timothy GeithnerConde Nast Portfolio May 2009 Timothy Geithner The Leadership Issue (Who Goes to Jail, The Last Optimist, The Best (and Worst) CEOs Ever): Geithner's list of results for 2009 includes saving two failing U.S. automakers, selling off U.S. stakes in major financial companies, limiting bonuses for Wall Street executives and negotiating complicated financial regulatory reform bills with the House and Senate. His biggest job is also his hardest, trying to frame policies that can reduce stubbornly high joblessness in America.

  1. Joe Lieberman: Al Gore's former running mate turned John McCain endorser has redefined the term independent since losing the Democratic Connecticut primary in 2006. In the past year, he has called out President Obama on everything from sanctions on Iran to the Administration's growing army of czars. Yet Lieberman still caucuses with the Democrats, ultimately supporting health care reform, introducing legislation to repeal "Don't ask, don't tell" and spearheading talks on a global warming bill.

  1. Rahul Singh: In the early 1990s Singh's wife left him, and in despair the successful entrepreneur went on an extended trip around the world. While in Nepal, the country was afflicted with crippling landslides. Singh was changed forever, becoming a paramedic and founding Global Medic. The Canadian NGO is lean: run almost completely by volunteers, the office itself is donated. It has two divisions, capacity training and disaster response, but in the wake of Haiti's devastating earthquake, it focuses mostly on providing clean water. Global Medic has thus far produced more than 9 million L of clean drinking water and is now producing a million liters a week.

  1. Paul Farmer: Perhaps it's appropriate that Farmer's pioneering career to bring health care to the developing world began in Haiti in 1987, when a group he co-founded, Partners in Health, launched a hospital in Cange. These days the anthropologist–physician lives in Kigali, Rwanda, and oversees projects in that country as well as in Russia, Lesotho, Malawi and Peru. But when the massive earthquake struck in Haiti, he knew he had to act. He's now former President Bill Clinton's right-hand man as a U.S. deputy special envoy to Haiti, helping rebuild the country's crippled health infrastructure (most hospitals in Port-au-Prince collapsed in the disaster).
  1. Atul Gawande: President Obama toted Gawande's June 2009 New Yorker article on disparities in health care spending around the White House last year, recommending it to staff and citing it in a speech to the American Medical Association. But even without that endorsement, the story would have been one of the most important pieces of journalism published during the health care debate. It exposed the inefficiencies in the U.S. health care system by drawing not only on reporting but also on expertise that only a medical doctor could bring. Gawande, a Harvard-educated endocrine surgeon, has now published his third best seller, The Checklist Manifesto. Off the page, his work as an official for the World Health Organization is reorganizing surgical protocol across the globe, making it safer and saving lives in the process.

  2. Greg Mortenson: Co-founder and executive director of the nonprofit Central Asia Institute, which promotes education, especially for girls, in far-flung areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, Mortenson is also an author: his 2006 book, Three Cups of Tea, has sold more than 3.5 million copies around the world. His 2009 follow-up, Stones into Schools, is a best seller as well.
    Drew BreesESPN January 25 2010 Drew Brees/New Orleans Saints/Purdue on Cover, Dirk Nowitzki/Dallas Mavericks, Jordan Crawford/Xavier, Bubba Watson/PGA, Simon Dumont/Freeskier: The MVP of Super Bowl XLIV, Brees led the long-downtrodden Saints to the first championship in team history, electrifying a city still wounded by Hurricane Katrina. His Brees Dream Foundation has raised more than $4.5 million to rebuild New Orleans schools, advance cancer research and fund other charitable causes.
  1. Elizabeth Warren: Warren first gained public attention by appearing on various talk shows and other programs to advise the middle class on dealing with debt and financial struggles. Now she has an even larger audience. The Harvard Law professor and chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel has continued to fight for the interests of consumers, recently advocating for the establishment of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency to fix the broken credit market and make sure that "there is an agency in Washington on the side of families."
  1. Tim White: White and a team of fellow paleontologists discovered the oldest fossil skeleton of a human ancestor, which has been named Ardi, thought to have walked the earth 4.4 million years ago. That's more than a million years before Lucy, who was previously thought to be the earliest hominid skeleton. According to White, his team's discovery is the "closest we have ever been able to come" to finding the missing-link common ancestor between humans and chimps.
  1. Johanna Sigurdardottir: After Iceland's economy collapsed in October 2008, Sigurdardottir rode a wave of discontent all the way to the premiership. A former flight attendant and the world's first openly gay head of state, she must rebuild the nation's economy while boosting confidence abroad. But vital foreign aid remains on hold until Sigurdardottir finds a way to repay $5 billion in losses to Britain and the Netherlands. Both governments bailed out their citizens who had invested in Icesave, the now defunct Reykjavik-based online bank. Sigurdardottir's reputation — and the nation's credit rating — depends on the outcome.
  1. Temple GrandinTemple Grandin: As a child Grandin was diagnosed with autism, and her parents were told she should be institutionalized. But Grandin, who once described her condition as making her "like an animal with no instincts to guide me," used that perspective to become one of the world's most respected advocates for the humane treatment of livestock. She also earned her Ph.D. and became an author, writing books about animals (Animals in Translation, Animals Make Us Human) and about autism. She lectures and consults around the country, and her life is a symbol of how much an autistic person can achieve.
  1. Warren BuffettThe Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life: In this year's much read letter to the shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway, legendary value investor Buffett chastised the heads of financial firms who walked away from the economic crisis unscathed. Buffett's dark-days bet on shares of Goldman Sachs is paying off quite handsomely, although his wager on General Electric has yet to turn a profit.
  1. Bill and Melinda GatesBill and Melinda Gates (Life Skills Biographies): For years, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, along with his wife Melinda, has been giving away his fortune. In the past, the pair focused on issues like education and third-world poverty. Now they're accelerating work in the administration of vaccines, angling to spend $10 billion over the next decade to prevent diseases such as pneumonia and diarrhea.

  2. Michael Sherraden: As the creator of individual development accounts, Sherraden has long argued that the poor can save significant assets with the right jump start. His ideas have been adopted in the U.S. and around the world, most notably with the U.K.'s Child Trust Fund, which starts a savings account for every child born.

  3. Michael Pollan: The author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and other crunchy best sellers, the soft-spoken but passionate Pollan is the dean of sustainable-food writers — and an enemy of mainstream American agriculture. His books have guided millions of American readers toward a healthier, greener way of eating — even as he's remained skeptical of the growing corporate organic movement.

  4. Angela MerkelAngela Merkel (Modern World Leaders): During her first four years as Chancellor, Merkel seemed largely focused on cleaning Germany's economy house through competition-boosting reform. Since winning a second mandate in elections last September, however, she has been more inclined to direct her disciplinary message to fellow euro zone member nations — primarily instructing Greece to finance its own way out of debt crisis. In March she also turned a deaf ear to French complaints that Germany's hard work to boost the attractiveness of its exports has left its less competitive neighbors at an unfair disadvantage, and advised all partners to reduce deficits and live within their means — recession be damned.

  5. Bo Xilai: A former Commerce minister and son of a Communist Party elder, Bo is one of China's most popular officials thanks to an extensive crackdown on organized crime in Chongqing, the southwestern Chinese megacity he has run since 2007. He is considered an outside candidate for the Politburo's standing committee — China's top ruling body — when it is reconfigured in 2012.

  6. Liu Xiaobo: Liu was a chief author of "Charter '08," a pro-democracy manifesto that called on the Communist Party to enact political reforms and uphold the constitutional rights of Chinese citizens. The document, which was signed by 303 mainland intellectuals, badly rattled China's authoritarian leaders. Liu was arrested on December 25, 2009, and sentenced to 11 years in prison for "inciting subversion of state power."

  7. Shirin Ebadi:Shirin Ebadi (Modern Peacemakers) Although somewhat overshadowed recently by the Green Revolution political opposition, Ebadi remains a thorn in Tehran's side. Her criticism of the regime stung so much, the authorities churlishly took away her Nobel medal. Traveling around the world, she continues to draw attention to Iran's appalling human-rights record.

  8. Serena WilliamsOn the Line: Her ugly U.S. Open outburst against a line judge, who called a foot fault that helped her lose a semifinal match to Kim Clijsters, will forever stain her career. But some fans tend to forget about her tremendous accomplishments. Cynics have always questioned her dedication, yet she's won 12 Grand Slam Titles over an eleven-year span. And her Serena Williams Foundation has raised money for Haiti relief and helped build a secondary school in Kenya.

  9. Jean-Max Bellerive: Bellerive was appointed to head Haiti's government just two months before a massive earthquake hit the western hemisphere's poorest country Jan. 12, killing more than 200,000 people. But many consider him a more effective leader in the quake's aftermath than Haiti's lame-duck head of state, President René Préval. "We don't want to rebuild what was destroyed," Bellerive told TIME. "We want to build the Haiti we're all dreaming of."

  10. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva: Whether he's charming the International Olympic Committee (the 2016 Summer Games will be held in Rio de Janeiro) or irking the Obama Administration (which frowned on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent visit to Brazil), Lula has helped make Brazil the first Latin American power to matter in world affairs. The former labor union leader's mixing of social largesse and capitalist orthodoxy has also brought Latin politics to a more sensible center — and Brazil to the brink of development. It's not about ideology anymore, Lula told TIME last year: "It's about doing things right."

  11.  Elton JohnElton John: Sir Elton has been making music for four decades, and as anyone who saw his duet with Lady Gaga at this year's Grammys knows, he's still got it. He also gives back: since its inception in 1992, his Elton John AIDS Foundation has raised nearly $175 million to fund AIDS research and provide care for people with HIV/AIDS.

  12. Ben StillerNight at the Museum (Full Screen Edition): Actor-director-writer Stiller's manic antics can be relied on to bring audiences to the cinema — and he's pretty much always the highlight of the Oscar telecast (this year he came as one of the Na'vi, the blue tribe of Avatar). But recently he's brought his brand of self-mockery and goofy humor to philanthropy. Stillerstrong has a silly name, but a serious purpose: to build schools in Haiti, a project Stiller had begun before the earthquake.

  13. George ClooneyUp in the Air: The same year he voiced a memorable stop-motion fox, Clooney stepped into the shoes of the great recession's most charismatic villain: the corporate ax man of Up in the Air, who destroys lives while accumulating frequent flyer miles. As his contemporaries have gone the route of action-blockbusters or romantic comedies, Clooney has continued in the dramatic vein he began as an actor in Syriana and Michael Clayton, and done it to consistent critical acclaim. He has also converted his celebrity into philanthropic power, this year wrangling fellow stars from Bruce Springsteen to Steven Spielberg to perform and man the phones in his "Hope for Haiti" telethon.


Kunal Ratanpal said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Good List... Although I don't quite agree with both the Clintons in the list... Ms. Grandin, Mr. Sarkozy, Ms. Merkel, Mr. Clooney and >s Ebadi were the most deserving people of the names you mentioned...

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