New Delhi, Dec 6: Is it a coincidence or an irony? Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is listed below Wal-Mart CEO Michael Duke in Forbes World's most powerful people, on the day the government wins vote on FDI in retail in Lok Sabha that opens gate to companies like Wal-Mart to do business in India.
Singh is not even in top ten of the list. If one goes by the selection norms of Forbes, he should have been in top ten and also above the Wal-Mart CEO. Our Prime Minister is ranked at 19 while Duke is two notches up at 17.
The annual list released on Wednesday (early Thursday in India) is heavily in favour of politicians as we are talking of power. As many as six heads of state have booked slots in top 10 rankings with US President Barack Obama at number one position.
Forbes selection process is subjective even though they set four measures as guiding parameters like power over many people, favoured Pope Benedict XVI at fifth position, while the world's richest man -- Mexican telecom magnate Carlos Slim Hula, worth a reported $72 billion -- placed 11th on the strength of his wealth. Even New York's billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg scored high to occupy the slot at 16.
There are nearly 7.1 billion people on the planet and the Forbes magazine selected the 71 who matter the most. To get to the list, the first measure was whether the candidate has power over lots of people.
Next on the list was the financial resources controlled by each person. Are they relatively large compared to their peers? For heads of state, Forbes used GDP, while for CEOs their company's assets and revenues.
Then came whether the person is powerful in multiple spheres.
Lastly, here is where Prime Minister Singh may have failed to rise up in the list, whether the candidates actively used their power. The world's perception is that power in India rests with Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul. That could be the reason why Sonia is slotted at position 12 and mercifully above Duke.
Manmohan's failure also stems from the fact that he is rarely seen or shaking the media world. He neither threatens countries nor showers undue favours, which generate volumes of daily media coverage. On the other hand, most of the western world leaders score high because they produce sound bites and occupy the waking memory of majority of literate people.
May be, Singh believes in the aphorism of Chinese philosopher Confucius who said "the superior man is slow in his words and earnest in his conduct."
We may console ourselves with a notion that Forbes list does not matter. However, the world functions on perceptions and bias and India needs to assert to claim its position in the universe. As the Forbes editors says the list is meant to be the beginning of a conversation, not the final word.
The entire list can be found at Forbes