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The newsmakers of 2017


Akhilesh Yadav

Even as the world gets its head around the latest internecine war in UP’s Ruling party Yadav Ki Baraat; (one day in one day out next day in again) conspiracy theorists are besides themselves with glee about the real reason why Akhilesh Yadav is one of the men to look out for in the political Dangal. They put it down to some expert political advice that the Yadav’s have received about just how to go about guarding their turf in what looks like the mother of all electoral battles in UP.

“It’s the anti incumbency factor” say political insiders when they are asked about the seeming war in the Yadav clan. “Akhilesh was fighting an uphill task by carrying the baggage of his CM ship and the Yadav reputation (or notoriety) they say. By expelling him (and then taking him back even as the world watched in horror) Mulayam is giving his son a chance of being seen as an entity on his own, some one new and fresh who will be viewed as an outsider and also gain the sympathy vote.

So what is the game plan according to these political watchers? “Simple. Mulayam holds on to the Yadav hegemony. Akhilesh is seen as the champion of development — a youth icon with a fresh new approach to politics and once the election is over, the two camps will unite.”

Sounds Plausible? Well, at least it gives UP politics a method in the madness.


Virat Kohli

No doubt about 2017 will be Virat Kohli’s year. Already, Kohli appears to be on a roll. Breaking records like it was going out of style and almost catching up to what was once considered as the purview of the likes of India’s revered sports legend Sachin Tendulkar himself.

And with the lovely Anushka Sharma by his side an actress amongst the top three today in Bollywood, this handsome, soft-spoken Delhi lad with his head screwed firmly on two very firm shoulders, appears to be fast on his way to becoming the icon that India so ardently loves.

Some one who is brilliantly talented, humble to boot and when you consider his good looks, acting skills and the lady by his side, you have all the makings of a dyed in the wool superstar.

And when you consider that this lean mean fighting machine was the only sportsmen to be ranked in the top 50 of “Asia’s Sexiest Asian Men” poll and that he is very active on social media (his fans being referred to as “Viratians”) and that only last month he became the first cricketer to attain a batting average of more than 50, in all three formats of the game and has broken the record for breaking the most records in the fastest amount of time, 2017 and Virat Kohli appear to be made for each other!


Nita Ambani

With her considerable financial muscle and awe inspiring drive Nita Ambani Chairperson and founder of Reliance Foundation is already one of the most influential people in the art world, funding some of the biggest exhibitions internationally, sitting on the boards of leading museums and art institutions and adding to her own formidable art collection assiduously.

In March this year it was no less than the Wall Street Journal which heralded Ambani’s entry in to the world of serious art collection.

‘Over the past six months, her Reliance Foundation — named after her husband Mukesh Ambani’s textile and petroleum empire, Reliance Industries — has emerged as a go-to donor for major US museums seeking to mount shows with ties to her homeland. Last fall, her foundation sponsored a show of traditional Hindu paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago. She’s also the biggest funder of the new Met Breuer’s debut show of modernist drawings by Nasreen Mohamedi, the first museum retrospective of the artist’s work in the US, it wrote. With Ambani’s next major project — a museum of her own in Mumbai to house her vast collection and host international exhibitions from abroad, Nita Ambani is the name to watch in the art world in India and abroad.


Arnab Goswami

Who would have thought that Arnab Goswami, the man who the country appeared to love to hate each night as it watched riveted and stunned, would be a man so genuinely loved and admired by the populace? At a recent Town Hall in which the Oxford educated anchor with the most famous hairstyle in the country interviewed Devendra Fadnavis, the Maharashtra CM, apparently each time the erstwhile editor-in-chief of Times Now opened his mouth to speak he was overwhelmed with cheers and thunderous applause making it hard for the interview to continue.

For some one who had been the subject of immense ridicule and trolling, Goswami’s recent ascension is the result of his sudden decision to quit his all powerful perch.

From a man who appeared to be singing his master’s tune, be it those of his employers or those of the establishment, Goswami has successfully cast himself as a rebel and a fiercely independent voice who will brook no contrail. Thus, much is expected of his soon to be launched new TV channel — The Republic.

Wand with the eyeballs and attention he commands, there is no doubt tat 2017, Goswami will once again dominate India’s airwaves and the mind space.

Will he be the hero or the villain this time around? The Nation definitely wants to know.


Vijay Shekhar Sharma

In this brave new world of digital finance where even the vegetable seller and the neighbourhood dhobhi are being persuaded to embrace cashless transactions, is there any doubt who will be the business person to watch out for in 2017. Rather than the traditional potentates of vast brick and mortar empires with surnames like Ambani and Adani will be a man roiled in the aspirations of a new middle class India, some one who appears to have only yesterday been part of the same dust and grime from which it aspires to emerge?

Until a few years ago, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Founder and CEO of Paytm would not have even gained entry in to the big boy’s club let alone a seat at its table. Today he owns a `3 billion net worth company and is expected to reach even greater heights with the new emphasis on IT transactions. Sharma who began life as as an ordinary boy born to an ordinary middle class family in Aligarh had no inroads in to the power elite, no fancy degrees from the IITs and IIMs of the world, no access to angel investors or even traditional creditors when he started out and is by his own admission a ‘total outsider’.

When you consider that he is some one who has built a global brand in the face of considerable hardship (he was forced to take a loan at 24 per cent rate of interest at the start of his career which resulted in him having to sell off 40 per cent of his company to service it later) his best is yet to come. “At Paytm, we resolve to introduce half a billion of Indians into the mainstream of the economy,” says the man who cites Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma and Masayoshi Son of Softbank as his inspirations.