NEW DELHI – Every day a new study or a magazine attempts to name the most influential people in the world, but the TIME magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” is considered as one of the ultimate lists. The prestigious magazine in its 2012 edition features four Indians. They are the people who inspire us, challenge us and change our world. The Indian pioneers, leaders and icons who are one among this year’s TIME 100 are:
In 1995, a time when doctors and nurses in some hospitals in India would not touch people infected with HIV, Anjali not only touched them but also took them into her home and danced with them. A pioneer in the field of HIV prevention and care in India, Gopalan had returned home from Brooklyn to protect this threatened world of the HIV infected. Through her work at the Naz Foundation, Anjali has done more than anyone else to advance the rights of gays and the transgendered in India, successfully petitioning the courts to get rid of a British-era law against sodomy. Her work isn’t just in courtrooms and she also runs a home for HIV-positive orphans. The advocate has brought about a revolution in the status of sexual minorities in the country and has done so joyously. With a contribution as big as hers, Gopalan is definitely one of the most influential people in the world.
The West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee also features in the TIME 100 this year. Though most of Indian society remains prejudiced in patriarchy and tradition, strong women still prevail in the nation’s political life. Mamata came to light last year when she and a movement she built from the grassroots wrested control of West Bengal, ending a three and a half decade of communist rule. Referred to by her supporters as ‘Didi’, she was labeled by critics as a shrieking street fighter. But ultimately she proved to be the skillful politician.
Through successive elections, Mamata steadily expanded her power base and chipped away at her opponents. In a country tarnished for its dynasties, her lower-middle-class background was no obstacle. As a chief minister, she has emerged as a populist woman of action — loud and divisive but balanced to play an even greater role in the world’s largest democracy.
Preetinder Bharara, commonly known as Preet Bharara also made it on the TIME 100. The Indian born is the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
His Manhattan team has fought terrorism, convicting the Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad, crippled international criminal networks run by Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, Jamaican drug trafficker Christopher Coke and Colombian rebel group FARC, and in March secured a half-billion-dollar forfeiture from computer contractor SAIC in the biggest fraud ever against New York City.
‘Sal’ Khan or Salman Khan also features on the TIME list. Salman was born to an Indian Mother and a Bangladeshi father. The founder of the Khan Academy, a free online education has produced an amazing library of online lectures on math, science and a host of other subjects. The educator has turned the classroom and the world of education on its head. The objective of khanacademy.org is to give every kid a chance at a free, world-class education. The website has over 3,000 short lessons that enable kids to learn at their own pace. Practice exercises send students back to the relevant video when they’re having trouble.