Six Indians, including external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, have been featured in Foreign Policy’s 100 Leading Global Thinkers, an annual list which recognizes individuals who have made contributions to society in different ways. Honorees in the past have included a wide range of leaders, advocates, innovators amongst others and this year is no different. The list has nine categories, starting with the decision makers, the challengers, the innovators, the artists, the advocates, the chroniclers, the moguls, the stewards and the healers.

Apart from Swaraj, who was also featured in Financial Times’ women of the year, the other Indians in the Foreign Policy list are immunologist Gursaram Prasad Talwar who has developed a vaccine for leprosy, and Anupama and Vineet Nayar, co-founders of Sampark Foundation for “Revamping rural India’s primary education system with low-tech teaching tools." Nitesh Kadyan, Nikhil Kaushik and Anirudh Sharma of Graviky Labs (http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/QtAfbCh9RYN5aZR9V6CdyI/Graviky-labs-When-soot-turns-to-ink.html) have been featured for their innovative use of polluted air to create art supplies. The write-up accompanying the list states that “fear surpassed reason repeatedly in 2016…the Global Thinkers honoured here are proof that, as a society’s pillars falter, individuals step into bear the weight."

Swaraj is listed in the decision makers category that honours politicians who went against the tide. She is in good company with names like Hillary Clinton, Justin Trudeau, Tsai Ing Wen and Angela Merkel. In fact, in a year when America rejected the chance to elect its first woman President ever, nine women are featured in the 15-strong list of decision makers. The others are Loretta Lynch, US Attorney General, Nicola Sturgeon, Leader Scottish National Party, Yuriko Koike, the governor of Tokyo and Carolyn Bennett and Marion Buller, the minister of indigenous and northern affairs and judge, Canada.

Swaraj was particularly lauded for her role in managing Indian migrant workers in Saudi Arabia in July when jobs were cut and salaries withheld. “From evacuating Indians from Yemen to helping replace lost passports, Swaraj has earned the nickname “the common tweeple’s leader" for her aggressive use of Twitter," the description reads.

The healers category recognizes though who are trying to bridge the health gap, which FP says, is only widening as medicine advances. Talwar is featured in this list and the inoculation, his write-up says, “could decrease leprosy rates by 65 per cent over three years." Anupama and Vineet Nayar are in the moguls category while Graviky Labs are in the stewards category which is described as “preservationists the world desperately needs."

The list also includes people of Indian origin in categories like innovators and artists. From chefs who started a catering company employing migrant chefs to showcase their traditional cuisine to Haifa Al-Hababi, the first woman to register to run in Saudi Arabia’s December municipal elections to Anohni, a transgender artiste who uses music to address political issues, the list is a who’s who of all those who mattered this year, not all of them well known.

The list was introduced in 2005. Over the years, Indians like Raghuram Rajan, Nandan Nilekani, Jagdish Bhagwati and Shiv Shankar Menon have been featured in the list.

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