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Desi Satire: Forbes’ Power List Upsets Indian Women

October 2006
Desi Satire: Forbes’ Power List Upsets Indian Women

Forbes magazine's list of the 100 most powerful women in the world has ruffled feathers in India, where several women have denounced the list as "biased," "unfair" and "created by men."

"How can they create a list of powerful women and leave out Karnam Malleswari?" asked former sprinter P.T. Usha. "She lifted 240 kg at the Olympics. She's the most powerful woman in India."

Malleswari, who won India's only medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, declined to comment on the Forbes list, aside from asking a single question: "Haven't they seen me lift?"

Forbes named German Chancellor Angela Merkel as the most powerful woman in the world, with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice coming in second. PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi was 4th and Congress President Sonia Gandhi was 13th.

"Karnam can lift 240 kg, what about Indra?" Usha asked. "All she lifts are those big checks from Pepsi."

Told that Nooyi is in charge of a $100-billion company, Usha remained unimpressed. "Indra Nooyi may be powerful in America," she said, "but we've stopped drinking Pepsi in India."

Aishwarya Rai, perhaps the biggest film star in India, was also miffed about the Forbes list. "Who is Angela Merkel?" she asked. "What movies has she been in?"

Rai said she tries to appear calm and gentle, but is really quite belligerent and powerful. "Condoleezza Rice likes to make war," she said, "but in case Forbes didn't notice, the word ‘war' appears in my name. I have just chosen to keep my power under control."

Despite her obvious displeasure about being left out, Rai said the Forbes list means nothing to her, as she had appeared on enough lists.

"Nobody in India really cares who the most powerful woman in the world is," she said. "They're more concerned about who the most beautiful woman is and whether or not she's dating Abhishek Bachchan."

The Forbes list included 53 women from America and 47 from the other 242 countries in the world, a fact that wasn't lost on author and activist Arundhati Roy. "The editors of Forbes need to spend some time abroad," she said. "If they came to India, they'd see numerous powerful women – and not just at the American Consulate."

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