File image of Baba Ramdev
File image of Baba Ramdev | Arvind Yadav/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
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Magazine lists Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani in ‘Technology’ category. Other Indians on the list include Amitav Ghosh and Menaka Guruswamy.

New Delhi: Hailed for his influence in shaping Indian politics and his Ayurvedic cosmetics conglomerate, India’s billionaire yoga guru Baba Ramdev has been featured in this year’s annual list of the top ‘100 Global Thinkers’ by news magazine Foreign Policy.

The magazine has also listed four other Indians, including a curiously-slotted Mukesh Ambani.

The Foreign Policy report said Ramdev’s “clout” coupled with his money power “will play a big role” in the upcoming general elections of India.

“Remember his name: Ramdev may himself end up in high office one day,” it said.

“Baba Ramdev is one of the most powerful and famous men in India. Through his television shows and ayurvedic cosmetics empire, this yogi-turned-mogul has brought commercialised wellness into the Indian middle-class home,” said the magazine that listed Ramdev’s name in the category of ‘Economics and Business’.

Ramdev introduced his Patanjali brand of Ayurvedic cosmetic products in 2006, positioning the yoga guru as a businessman who took on his rivals Hindustan Lever, Dabur and others in a quick span of time.

However, it seems sales of its products have now begun to plummet. In the financial year 2017-18, the company witnessed 10 per cent drop in revenues to Rs 8,135 crore from Rs 9,030 crore in 2016-17.


Also read: Baba Ramdev’s Diwali gift — jeans that are ripped just enough to be sanskaari


Curious listing of Ambani

Interestingly, Foreign Policy does not enlist Asia’s richest man Ambani in the category of ‘Economics and Business’ but in the ‘Technology’ for his mega telecom venture Reliance Jio.

Ambani, who shares the honour in this category along with best-selling author Yuval Noah Harari and Pinboard chief Maciej Ceglowski, also made it to the list for his plans to venture into India’s booming e-commerce market that is expected to pose stiff competition to Amazon and Walmart.

A self-proclaimed pioneer on data localisation, Ambani has been lobbying hard with the Narendra Modi government for storing Indians’ data within the country’s territory while preventing its flow abroad.

At the recent ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ investment summit, Ambani called for a “movement against data colonisation”.

“By offering cellular data and voice free for the first six months after Jio’s launch, Ambani got more than 100 million Indians to sign up — accelerating a smartphone internet revolution in the world’s largest democracy,” the Foreign Policy report said.

“The next stage of Ambani’s plan is to use the digital airwaves to sell content and lifestyle products, eventually competing with Google and Facebook,” it added.


Also read: Why Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali ads have gone missing from your TV


Other Indians on the list

Some of the other prominent Indian names on the list are Roopam Sharma, Amitav Ghosh and Menaka Guruswamy, among others.

Roopam Sharma, a 23-year-old scientist and inventor, is believed to be introducing to the world the next generation of Braille. An engineer by training, Sharma is developing ‘Manovue’, meant to do reading for visually impaired people just by wearing a glove. One would not need to be versed in Braille language to read a printed text by wearing the glove.

Sharma is the youngest person to be recognised as one of the top innovators under 35 by the MIT Tech Review (in 2016). He was also conferred the National Youth Award by the President of India in January 2018.

Featured in the ‘Energy and Climate’ category, author Ghosh made it to the list for his 2016 book The Great Derangement.

The magazine also recognised lawyer Guruswamy for her fight against the LGBT community that led India’s Supreme Court to decriminalise gay sex.

Citing one of the central reasons behind featuring these names, Foreign Policy said, “The idea is not to honor do-gooders (though we feature plenty of them) but to shine a spotlight on some of the most influential people in the world — for better or worse.”

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