PM Modi, Mamata, Abdul Baradar Among TIME's 100 Most Influential People of 2021

The list also includes US President Joe Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping and SII CEO Adar Poonawalla.

4 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>Prime Minister Narendra Modi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla and Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar have featured on <em>TIME</em> magazine’s list of 100 most influential people of 2021. Image used for representational purposes.</p></div>

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla and Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar on Wednesday, 15 September, featured on TIME magazine’s list of 100 most influential people of 2021.

The list also includes United States (US) President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Duke and Duchess of Sussex Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and former US president Donald Trump.

'PM Modi Pushed the Country Away From Secularism and Toward Hindu Nationalism'

Writing Modi’s profile, noted CNN journalist Fareed Zakaria said that India has had three pivotal leaders in its 74 years as an independent nation – Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Modi. “Narendra Modi is the third, dominating the country’s politics like no one since them.”

Zakaria said that Modi had “pushed the country away from secularism and toward Hindu nationalism.”

Zakaria said that under the Modi government, the rights of India’s Muslim minority have been eroded, many journalists who write about the government’s abuses have been imprisoned and intimidated, and the government has passed laws that have crippled thousands of NGOs and advocacy groups.

“It was responsible for 70% of Internet shutdowns on the planet in 2020,” he wrote.

Zakaria said that two international think tanks were of the opinion that under Modi’s leadership and watch, India in 2020, “veered away from democracy, toward what V-Dem Institute calls “electoral autocracy.”

'Mamata Banerjee Is the Trinamool Congress'

Veteran journalist Barkha Dutt, who wrote West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s profile, said that Banjerjee “has become the face of fierceness in Indian politics.” During the state’s assembly elections in May, Banerjee “stood like a fortress against the expansionist ambition of Narendra Modi, a seemingly invincible Prime Minister” and retained her role as CM of West Bengal "despite the money and men of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party”.

She said that Banerjee does not lead the Trinamool Congress, “she is the party” and her “street-fighter spirit and self-made life in a patriarchal culture” set her apart.

'Poonawalla Could Help End the Pandemic'

On the 40-year-old Adar Poonawalla, journalist Abhishyant Kidangoor said that from the beginning of the pandemic, the head of the world’s largest vaccine maker “sought to meet the moment.”

Poonawalla's Serum Institute of India manfuctures Covishield, which was jointly developed by the University of Oxford and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.

Kidangoor said that Poonawalla's company’s assurance to provide 1.1 billion Covid-19 doses was the “backbone of the plan for global vaccine access.”

“But over the course of this year, a series of issues – a fire at his plant in Pune, India; trouble securing necessary raw materials; and a vaccine export ban amid India’s second wave of Covid-19 – slowed his ambitions, and left many countries scrambling to find other sources of the vaccines,” Kidangoor wrote.

“The pandemic is not over yet, and Poonawalla could still help end it. Vaccine inequality is stark, and delayed immunisation in one part of the world can have global consequences - including the risk of more dangerous variants emerging,” he said.

'Abdul Ghani Baradar Represents a More Moderate Current Within the Taliban'

Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid described Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar as the "fulcrum for the future" of Afghanistan.

He said the Taliban co-founder was a “quiet, secretive man who rarely gives public statements or interviews.”

“Baradar nonetheless represents a more moderate current within the Taliban, the one that will be thrust into the limelight to win Western support and desperately needed financial aid. The question is whether the man who coaxed the Americans out of Afghanistan can sway his own movement.”

Activist Manjusha P Kulkarni Among Icons

Activist Manjusha P Kulkarni, who is the executive director of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council and a lecturer in the Asian American Studies Department of UCLA, was placed in the ‘Icons’ category by TIME magazine.

In March 2020, she co-founded Stop AAPI Hate, a place where Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders could share first-hand accounts of racism faced by them, the ones which went unreported by the government, media and others. The organisation has logged “more than 9,000 anti-Asian acts of hate, harassment, discrimination and assault across the country”.

Other prominent names on the list include:

  • Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny

  • Tennis player Naomi Osaka

  • Music icon Britney Spears

  • Executive Director of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council

    Manjusha P. Kulkarni

  • Apple CEO Tim Cook

  • First African and first woman to lead the World Trade Organization Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala


See the full list here:

Prince Harry
Meghan Markle
Naomi Osaka
Alexei Navalny
Britney Spears
Sherrilyn Ifill
Dolly Parton
Shohei Ohtani
Cathy Park Hong
Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara
Nasrin Sotoudeh
Manjusha P Kulkarni
Russell Jeung
Cynthia Choi
Muna El-Kurd
Mohammed El-Kurd
Billie Elish
Ben Crump
Adi Utarini
Sunisa Lee
Felwine Sarr
Benedicte Savoy
Fatih Birol
Aurora James
Adar Poonawalla
Phyllis Omido
Frans Timmermans
Indyra Mendoza
Claudia Spellmant
Roger Cox
Olimpia Coral Melo Cruz
Dorottya Redai
Esther Ze Naw Bamvo
Ei Thinzar Maung
Tim Cook
Shonda Rhimes
Swizz Beats
Nikole Hannah-Jones
Tom Brady
Youn Yuh Jung
Allyson Felix
Angelique Kidjo
Kenneth C Frazier
Kenneth I Chenault
Luiza Trajano
Kate Winslet
Bad Bunny
Cloe Zhao
Jason Sudeikis
Scarlett Johansson
Lil Nas X
Jessica B Harris
Bowen Yang
Tracee Ellis Ross
Mark Bradford
NK Jemisin
Steven Yuen
Daniel Kaluuya
Omar Sy
Barbara Kruger
Kane Brown
Ngozi Okonjo - Iweala
Joe Biden
Xi Jinping
Liz Cheney
Kamala Harris
Mario Draghi
Tucker Carlson
Naftali Bennett
Stacey Abrams
Nayib Bukele
Donald Trump
Narendra Modi
Mahbouba Seraj
Joe Manchin
Ebrahim Raisi
Rochelle Walensky
Mamata Banerjee
Ron Klain
Elisa Loncon Antileo
Abdul Ghani Baradar
Jensen Huang
Elon Musk
Adrienne Banfield Norris
Willow Smith
Jada Pinkett Smith
Katalin Kariko
Mary Barra
John Nkengasong
MiMi Aung
Vitalik Buterin
Barney Graham
Friederike Otto
Geert Jan van Oldenborgh
Kengo Kuma
Sara Menker
Lidia Morawska

(With inputs from Time Magazine and PTI.)

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