The most powerful indians in 2009: 80-84
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He has proved that space technologies developed indigenously are on par with any in the world.
On November 14, 2008, when India's first moon mission, Chandrayaan-1—launched on October 22—landed a probe on the surface of the moon, putting India in an elite league of four countries who have sent probes to the Earth's satellite. "Now we can stand shoulder to shoulder with any space power in the world," Dr Nair said.
A second mission, Chandrayaan 2, in collaboration with Russia and involving a robotic landing, is slated for the end of the year or early 2010. ISRO will also be looking at improved commercialisation of its space technologies after the success of the moon mission and the proven cost, technology advantages.
81. Jaggi Vasudev, 51
Isha Foundation Founder
The Isha Foundation set up by yogi Jaggi Vasudev in Coimbatore in 1992 aims to plant 114 million trees in Tamil Nadu by 2010. His 'secularism' made an otherwise atheist M. Karunanidhi share a stage with him in 2006. In 2006, the Foundation entered the Guinness Book of World Records by planting 8,52,587 saplings in 6,284 locations across Tamil Nadu in one day The foundation, which has 250,000 volunteers across 150 centres, also conducts Isha yoga programmes that are popular across the globe.
He was invited to speak at the Word Economic Forum for three years in a row—from 2006 through 2008.
As civil society gets more eco conscious, his efforts would go a long way in ensuring public participation and media attention.
82. Dr Zakir Naik, 43
Comparative religion specialist Dr Zakir Naik has emerged as a cult figure of sorts among Muslims. His public lectures are broadcast on Peace TV (a channel aired in 125 countries that he runs with the help of donations) and recorded and sold in CDs.
In the last 13 years, Naik has authored several books and delivered more than 1,200 public talks across the world, some controversial. At a talk in Mumbai in December 2007, he angered Shias by glorifying Yazid, the alleged murderer of Imam Hussein. After Pope Benedict XVI quoted a 14th Century Byzantine emperor who had said negative things about Prophet Muhammad, Dr Naik offered to have a "live public debate" with him. The Pope is yet to respond to his invitation.
He "plans to launch a news channel".
83. Chiranjeevi, 53
Konidela Siva Shankara Vara Prasad, famously known as Chiranjeevi, has had the big daddies of Andhra Pradesh politics worried ever since he launched Praja Rajyam Party last year. After acting in 139 films, Chiranjeevi is promising corruption-free governance.
When weavers of Sirculla in Karminagar district were committing suicide, Chiranjeevi visited the town and assured the families of financial support if they voted his party to power—forcing the government to announce an aid package for the weavers. His Praja Ankita Yatra forced Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy to go on similar road shows.
Whether he comes to power on his own remains to be seen. But he will play kingmaker if his Praja Rajyam Party, as is expected, upsets well-established political equations.
84. Ellatuvalapil Sreedharan, 76
Managing Director, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation
Sreedharan has shown us the science of the possible—possible for a world-class public transport system like the Delhi Metro to come up in the chaos of an Indian city. He is also credited with making the Delhi Metro one among five Metros in the world to make operational profits.
In September 2008, he wrote a letter to the Planning Commission, criticising the Andhra Pradesh government's decision to transfer 296 acres of prime land worth Rs 12,000 crore to the developer of the Hyderabad Metro project, Maytas Infra, run by Ramalinga Raju's son. Four months later, the Satyam-Maytas scandal left Sreedharan vindicated.
Five new Metro lines are set to open this year in Delhi. DMRC has also been roped in as consultant for Metro projects in Mumbai, Kochi, Bangalore, Chennai, Pune and Ludhiana.