Prime Minister Narendra Modi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, and Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla have been named in the TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2021. While Modi and Banerjee were included under the ‘Leaders’ category, Poonawalla was named under ‘Pioneers’. Other such categories include ‘Icons’, ‘Titans’, ‘Artists’, and ‘Innovators’.
Indian-American journalist Fareed Zakaria in an article about PM Modi in TIME magazine wrote that Narendra Modi’s approval rating has “slipped to a still sky-high 71%".
The TIME magazine had in 2019 published an article saying that no prime minister has united India in decades the way he has done. This was days after PM Modi-led BJP clinched a landslide victory in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Titled ‘Modi Has United India Like No Prime Minister in Decades’, the article said: “Despite the strong and often unfair criticisms leveled at Modi’s policies both throughout his first term and this marathon election, no Prime Minister has united the Indian electorate as much in close to five decades."
“Mamata Banerjee, in her signature white sari paired with rubber flip-flops, has become the face of fierceness in Indian politics,” said journalist Barkha Dutt in her article about the Bengal chief minister in TIME. “Unlike many other women in Indian politics, Mamata has never been framed as someone’s wife, mother, daughter or partner. She rose from abject poverty—working once as a stenographer and a milk-booth vendor to support her family. Of Banerjee, it is said, she doesn’t lead her party, the Trinamool Congress—she is the party. The street-fighter spirit and self-made life in a patriarchal culture set her apart,” Dutt wrote.
“From the beginning of the pandemic, Adar Poonawalla sought to meet the moment. His company, the Serum Institute of India, was already the world’s largest vaccine maker when he promised 1.1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines for the developing world by the end of 2021,” Journalist Abhishyant Kidangoor wrote in TIME.
Poonawalla told Kidangoor in March that he didn’t want to “have regrets when history judges his actions.”
“Meanwhile, the Serum Institute has almost doubled production of COVID-19 vaccines since May and is adding newer vaccines—including Novavax and Russia’s Sputnik V—to its portfolio in the coming months. Whether Poonawalla can right the ship this time will determine which side of history he falls on—and, more importantly, how quickly the world emerges from the pandemic,” wrote Kidangoor.
Manjusha P. Kulkarni
Another Indian on the list was Manjusha P. Kulkarni, an NRI, who is the executive director of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, US. She, along with San Francisco State University professor Russell Jeung and veteran activist Cynthia Choi, were listed under the category ‘Icons’. Together, they run a platform, named Stop AAPI Hate, which has helped create a place where Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders could file firsthand accounts of racism they had experienced.
“Stop AAPI Hate has become not only an invaluable resource for the public to understand the realities of anti-Asian racism, but also a major platform for finding community-based solutions to combat hate. And its leaders have locked arms with other BIPOC organizations to find restorative justice measures so that civil rights—for all vulnerable groups—receive the protection they deserve,” wrote poet and author Cathy Park Hong.
Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar, Chinese President Xi Jinping, US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were also among the prominent personalities featured in TIME’s list.
(With PTI inputs)