Categorized | Feature, Interviews, Society

Most Influential South Asians of 2014

Posted on 25 December 2014 by admin

Arvind Kejriwal

By Rajdeep Sardesai

April 23, 2014

A powerful outsider in Indian politics

Arvind Kejriwal is the antithesis of the modern-day Indian politician. He’s no Hindu nationalist, he doesn’t have a famous surname, and no, there is no evidence that he has made money from politics.

A former civil servant, he cut his teeth in public life as an activist campaigning for greater transparency in government. But it was his role as the driving force behind a grassroots anticorruption movement in 2011 that catapulted him onto the national stage. Late last year, he became chief minister of Delhi following a remarkable political debut by his Aam Aadmi, or common man, party.

Though his administration lasted a mere 49 days, with Kejriwal proving less adept at turning the wheels of government than campaigning against it, his image as the quintessential outsider taking on powerful interests — a David versus many mighty Goliaths — has earned him a unique place in Indian politics.

Sardesai is the editor in chief of the IBN18 Network

Hosain Rahman

By Matt Vella

April 23, 2014

Robyn Twomey—Corbis Outline

The stylist of wearable tech

The race to make wearable tech the biggest thing since the smartphone is on. Apple, Google and Samsung are all working on making our gadgets far more personal by packing in sensors that measure everything from heart rate to hydration. Yet with his company’s line of UP wristband computers, Hosain Rahman is out ahead of them all.

Since Rahman co-founded Jawbone in 1999, he’s managed to stay one step ahead of the prevailing vogue. He turned the Bluetooth headset into an objet d’art exhibited in venues from San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art to the Pompidou Center in Paris. He perfected the small, portable wireless speaker before there were millions of them out there. And with the fitness- and sleep-tracking UP band, he’s turned Jawbone into one of the biggest companies in wearables. It doesn’t hurt that the slinky bands look cool; they’ve been spotted on the wrists of celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Demi Moore.

Most founders in Silicon Valley pay lip service to design. Rahman is one of few who has proved how powerful it really is.

Arunachalam Muruganantham

By Ruchira Gupta

April 23, 2014

Illustration by Michael Hoeweler for TIME

The entrepreneur who is an unlikely health crusader

In a small south Indian town, a man’s empathy for his wife has sparked a revolution. In 1998, Arunachalam Muruganantham asked his wife why she hoarded dirty rags and was told she needed them during menstruation. Buying sanitary napkins would cost too much. His response: designing a simple machine to produce sanitary pads. He even wore some himself, using a tiny pump to test absorption. And instead of selling his idea to the highest bidder, he supplies his low-cost machines to rural communities. Now millions of poor Indian women can avoid painful urinary-tract infections and create their own pad-manufacturing businesses. The invention has also sparked interest around the world.

It’s a truism for a reason: Empathy is the most revolutionary emotion.

Gupta is the founder of Apne Aap, an Indian anti-sex-trafficking organization

Narendra Modi

By Fareed Zakaria

April 23, 2014

Prakash Singh—AFP/Getty Images

The divisive politician poised to lead the world’s largest democracy

Elections are reactions, often negative reactions. That is surely the explanation for the breathtaking rise of Narendra Modi, who — if the opinion polls are accurate — is poised to become India’s next Prime Minister, and thus the world leader chosen by the largest electorate on the planet. India is currently ruled by Manmohan Singh, a mild-mannered 81-year-old technocrat with no political power of his own and a passive leadership style. Reverse every one of those traits and you have Modi, the charismatic, intense, utterly decisive head of Gujarat, one of India’s fastest-growing states. Most Indians believe that their country has lost its way as its growth rate has been almost halved while inflation has soared. Modi has a reputation for quick action, encouraging the private sector, and good governance. He also has a reputation for autocratic rule and a dark Hindu-nationalist streak. But those concerns are waning in a country desperate for change.

Zakaria is the host of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS

Arundhati Roy

By Pankaj Mishra

April 23, 2014

Chiara Goia

The novelist who is the conscience of India

In early 1996, Arundhati Roy, then a screenwriter in Delhi, called me to say that she had written a novel. I can still remember my first enraptured reading of The God of Small Things. The novel seemed, in its evocations of the beauty and terror of life, its radical distrust of power, reflexive hatred of injustice and effervescent humor, almost miraculous. More remarkably, Roy’s subsequent nonfictional engagement with the conflicts and traumas of a heedlessly globalized world has manifested the virtues of an unflinching emotional as well as political intelligence. Her lucid and probing essays offer sharp insights on a range of matters, from crony capitalism and environmental depredation to the perils of nationalism and, in her most recent work, the insidiousness of the Hindu caste system. In an age of intellectual logrolling and mass-manufactured infotainment, she continues to offer bracing ways of seeing, thinking and feeling.

Mishra’s latest book is A Great Clamour: Encounters With China and Its Neighbours

Malala Yousafzai

By Gabrielle Giffords

April 23, 2014

Trunk Archive

Pakistan’s torchbearer for girls’ education

Like millions around the world, I draw strength from brave Malala’s example.

I have seen courage in many places — in the thousands of our nation’s military members I have met and represented; in those who ran toward the gunfire in a Safeway parking lot on Jan. 8, 2011; and in our leaders who take the tough votes because it’s the right thing to do — but Malala’s courage is uncommon.

In the face of oppression and bitter injustice, she demands education and opportunity. In the face of violence from the hands of cowards, she refuses to back down.

Malala is a testament that women everywhere will not be intimidated into silence. We will make our voices heard.

We will speak, no matter how hard it is to do so.

Giffords is a retired Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Arizona and a co-founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions

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