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Nooyi outshines Sonia, but does she really?
Indra Nooyi’s name in Forbes' list of most powerful women shows that the magazine fails to understand the meaning of power. To place her in a list that boasts of personalities like Merkel, Rice and Sonia Gandhi, makes it a complete mockery.
THE MOST POWERFUL person in the world is both economically as well as politically powerful. There is a lot of media hype about PepsiCo’s chief executive-designate Indra Nooyi who has been named the fourth most powerful woman in the world, while Congress chief Sonia Gandhi is on the 13th position, according to the World’s Most Powerful Women list released by Forbes magazine in its issue dated September 18, 2006. According to the list, German Chancellor Angela Merkel overtook US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to become this year’s most powerful woman.
 
One can understand why Angela Merkel, Condoleezza Rice and Sonia Gandhi are there on the list. The decisions they make affect billions of people. But, one can only marvel as to why someone who sells aerated drinks, potato chips and other fast food in the world is there on this list. It is true that she does her job well and her work has benefited Pepsi. There is also no doubt about the fact that she is a successful woman who has managed to penetrate the glass ceiling and has reached the top. But, to make a soft drink seller the fourth most powerful woman in the world shows that our priorities are warped. 
 
Melinda Gates, the co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, was tenth on the list last year and has slipped to the 12th position this year, just a place above Sonia Gandhi. Melinda takes more than a passing interest in the affairs of the foundation. She is a very active member and she has made a difference in various important fields such as, the development of vaccines, combating malaria, prevention of HIV and AIDS, etc.
 
I would not expect the likes of Medha Patkar, Arundhati Roy, or Shabana Azmi to be on any American magazine’s list of powerful women and it would be fair to say that they also would not consider themselves economically powerful. But, I am sure there are others who make a more worthwhile difference to the world. These women should be in this list that Forbes prepares annually.
 
Indra Nooyi has achieved a lot and deserves to be applauded for all that she has accomplished for women in general and for Indian women in particular. But, to list her and those like her among the most powerful women of the world only shows one thing — that we have a wrong notion of what power is all about.




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