WB President Ajay Banga, actor Alia Bhatt, Olympian Sakshi Malik on Time's 100 most influential people list

Ajay Banga
Ajay Banga

New York | World Bank President Ajay Banga, Bollywood actor Alia Bhatt, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Olympian wrestler Sakshi Malik and actor-director Dev Patel are among the Indians who have made it to the prestigious Times's list of 100 most influential people in the world released on Wednesday.

Time’s ‘100 Most Influential People of 2024’ also includes US Department of Energy’s Loan Programmes Office director Jigar Shah, Professor of Astronomy and Professor of Physics at Yale University Priyamvada Natarajan; Indian-origin restaurateur Asma Khan; as well as Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny's widow Yulia Navalnaya.

Time’s profile of the former Mastercard CEO, written by US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, said, “It’s not easy to find a leader with the skill and drive to take on the monumental task of transforming an essential institution, but since becoming World Bank president last June, Ajay Banga has done just that."

She said Banga comes to the World Bank after leading a global organisation through which he brought millions of unbanked people into the digital economy. At the World Bank, he set forth a new vision to create a world free of poverty on a livable planet and moved boldly to make good on it — from pioneering innovative financial tools to reimagining partnerships across the multilateral development banks and with the private sector.

“His sharp wit consistently enables him to cut through the noise. With unprecedented challenges such as climate change threatening our collective future, I cannot imagine a better partner with whom to take decisive action on behalf of people around the world,” Yellen said.

Describing Bhatt as a "formidable talent", director, producer and writer Tom Harper said in the Time profile that she is “not only one of the world’s leading actors, admired for her work in the Indian film industry for over a decade — she is also a businesswoman and a philanthropist who leads with integrity”.

“Alia’s superpower is her ability to mix movie-star magnetism with authenticity and sensitivity. As an actor she is luminous, and as a person she brings the grounded assurance and creativity that make a truly international star,” Harper, who directed Bhatt in his movie ‘Heart of Stone’ said.

On Nadella, Time said he is “profoundly influential in shaping our future. And that’s a good thing for humanity”.

“Microsoft’s significant investment in OpenAI and partnership with Mistral AI puts him at the forefront of the artificial intelligence revolution. A technologist with heart, Satya sees AI as a tool that will empower humans. Still, there’s rightful concern about unintended consequences and misuse. That’s why it’s so reassuring that Satya is one of AI’s stewards. His thoughtfulness and humility should make us safer,” it said.

On Malik, Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Nisha Pahuja writes that she was among India’s “most celebrated wrestlers” who had gathered at Jantar Mantar in Delhi in early 2023 to demand the immediate arrest and resignation of chief of the Wrestling Federation of India Brij Bhushan Singh, accused of sexually harassing female athletes.

“What began as a small, targeted protest to demand decisive government action in favour of the wrestlers ballooned instead into a yearlong battle unprecedented in Indian sport, drawing support from across the country and attention from across the world,” Pahuja writes in her profile of Malik for Time.

“This fight is no longer only for India’s female wrestlers,” she said, of the movement Malik helped spark, “it is for the daughters of India whose voices have been silenced time and again”.

“Shortly after Singh’s successor, a close ally and business partner, was elected to oversee the Wrestling Federation of India, Sakshi Malik — in an emotional, public, and very brave act of defiance — quit the sport. She did not, however, quit the battle. Her light, and the light of all those standing against harassment, continues to shine,” Pahuja said.

On Patel, the Time profile by Oscar-winning actor Daniel Kaluuya said that he “radiates goodness. His humanity shines through every time he graces the screen, leaving you no choice but to root for him even when his character is doing something foul; his presence makes you understand where he’s coming from”.

Patel made his directorial debut with ‘Monkey Man’. “Dev sets the pace. He’s limitless. He’s fearless. Our responsibility as a generation is to go into familiar spaces and see them through new perspectives, thus creating, finding, and sharing a space that has never been touched before. He has that gift. He continues to surpass himself and surprise us, and we are all waiting for where he’ll take us next,” it said.

Shep Doeleman, an astrophysicist and the founding director of the Event Horizon Telescope, wrote in the profile for Natarajan that a novel approach developed years ago by her “brought us closer to under­standing a basic mystery in astron­omy: How do the supermassive black holes that lurk at the centres of most galaxies form?”

“Priya has a knack for pursuing the most creative research, and as a fellow astronomer, I am always inspired by her work. Her latest result takes us one step closer to understanding our cosmic beginnings,” Doeleman said.

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