Washington: Software czar Azim Premji and anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare are among five Indians who figure in the Foreign Policy magazine’s list of Top 100 Global Thinkers, that is dominated by revolutionaries who have been the driving force behind the Arab Spring.
The list features US President Barack Obama, who is ranked 11th among the top 100 global thinkers, and also includes writer-activist Arundhati Roy, poverty researcher Deepa Narayan and economist Arvind Subramanian.
With the Arab Spring being the single most important influential development of the year, the top nine positions in the list are occupied by leading revolutionaries from the region, bracketed together as the ‘The Arab revolutionaries’.
It includes the likes of Egyptian dentist-turned-author Alaa Al Aswany, former IAEA chief and activist Mohamed Elbaradei, and Google marketing guru Wael Ghonim.
Identified as India’s Bill Gates, Azim Premji is ranked 14th, just below Bill and Melinda Gates.
“It’s not just because of Azim Premji’s enormous wealth that he is compared to the American technologist turned philanthropist,” the Foreign Policy magazine says. It is Premji’s unprecedented philanthropy, that recently has borne out the Gates comparison, it adds.
“Through his contributions, Premji is at the forefront of a rising tide of Indian philanthropy, with billionaire executives such as Shiv Nadar, founder of the technology company HCL, and Sunil Bharti Mittal, of the business conglomerate Bharti Enterprises, often listed in the same cohort,” it writes.
However, making a surprise entry into this list of top 100 global thinkers is Anna Hazare who has been placed at the 37th position for his anti-corruption crusade in the country.
The magazine recognised Hazare’s anti-graft campaign as having found resonance among Indians. “This 74-year-old Gandhi devotee has been railing against government corruption since his days as a rural organiser decades ago, but in 2011, when a series of high-profile scandals reached the highest levels of India’s ruling Congress party, his message finally seemed to resonate,” the Foreign Policy magazine said.
“Twice this year, Anna Hazare went on a hunger strike in New Delhi to demand tough legislation that would create a powerful new government anti-corruption watchdog. When the soft-spoken Hazare was arrested in August, tens of thousands of his supporters took to the streets throughout the country, bringing government to a standstill. Finally, the Indian
Parliament agreed to debate his ideas, and Hazare ended his fast,” it said.
It said the simplicity and single-mindedness of Hazare’s crusade has awakened millions of middle-class professionals who are fed up with India’s pervasive culture of graft.
Author of award winning book ‘The God of Small Things”, Arundhati Roy has been ranked 94 in the list for “being the voice of India’s Voiceless”.
Eminent global economist Arvind Subramanian has been ranked 97th for sounding the alarm on China’s economic ascendancy.
For seeing the poor as more than victims, Deepa Narayan has been ranked 79 in the list. The former director of a World Bank anti-poverty programme, she has spent nearly 30 years working for NGOs, governments, and global organisations in Asia and Africa.
The list begins with dentist-turned-author Alaa Al Aswany, who rose to fame with his 2002 novel ‘The Yacoubian Building’ and founded the Kefaya political movement that in many ways inspired the demands for democracy that emerged from the Tahrir Square.
It features opposition activist Elbaradei and Ghonim, who became the face of the revolution after founding a popular anti-Mubarak Facebook page, besides Syrian human rights lawyer and cartoonist Ali Ferat, and Libyan human rights lawyer Fathi Terbil.
The 10th position is jointly occupied by the three central bank governors of US, France and China for steering the world amid an economic crisis.