Sonia Gandhi, Mayawati on Forbes powerful women list

August 28th, 2008 - 7:33 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, Aug 28 (IANS) Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, PepsiCo chief executive Indra K. Nooyi and Biocon founder Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw have been featured in the latest annual list of “100 Most Powerful Women” compiled by Forbes magazine.Nooyi and Gandhi rank high up at third and twenty-first positions in the list, while Mayawati and Mazumdar-Shaw have been ranked fifty-ninth and ninety-ninth, respectively.

The top slot in the list published in the magazine’s latest edition has been given to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, followed next by Sheila C. Bair, chairperson of the US-based Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

“Gandhi, the Italian-born leader of India’s most powerful political party, the Indian National Congress Party, has by now assumed the role of an elder stateswoman,” the magazine said.

“Although she remains firmly at the head of the country’s ruling party, a rising star, known by the single name Mayawati, is challenging Gandhi’s position as the country’s most powerful woman,” the magazine added.

“Mayawati has aligned herself with the nationalist Hindu BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) and joined its members in vociferously opposing Gandhi’s party’s historic agreement with the US on nuclear cooperation.”

According to Forbes, the annual ranking measured power as a composite of public profile, calculated using press mentions, financial heft, the money the person controls, job title and past career accomplishments.

“For the third year running, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel is the world’s most powerful woman. US Sen Hillary Clinton is the woman with highest public profile, resulting from the intense media scrutiny of her failed presidential bid.”

Nooyi, the magazine said, continued to grow PepsiCo, the $39 billion food and beverage giant, through new product offerings like lifestyle beverages, new line of oatmeal and granola bars, as well as acquisitions.

“Nooyi orchestrated a major expansion into international markets, most notably with a $1.4 billion acquisition of a 75 percent stake in Russian juice giant Lebedyansky,” the magazine added.

Commenting on Mayawati, the magazine said she was in the running for the post of India’s prime minister, having become chief minister of India’s most populous state at the age of 39 in 1995.

“In 2007, she shrewdly built an alliance with Brahmins, and the Bahujan Samaj Party, which she heads, has started to increase its national presence. Some say she could trail-blaze again as India’s first Dalit prime minister.”

Mazumdar-Shaw, the magazine said, was trained in Australia as a brewer but later founded Biocon in 1978 to make industrial enzymes with a small Irish company - Biocon Biochemicals.

“Now a top-20 global biotech company, Biocon makes drugs, including insulin and anti-cancer treatments, and its chairman is the dean of India’s rapidly growing biotech industry.”

Forbes also mentioned that the Biocon founder donates half of her dividends to fund hospitals and a health insurance programme for poor villagers, and has won the Padma Bhushan, one of India’s highest civilian honours.

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