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Indian people placed above Gates

The Microsoft boss figures below the middle class of emerging markets in a ranking of '50 people who matter now'.

india Updated: Jul 12, 2006 16:07 IST

The much hackneyed Indian middle class has finally got due recognition on the global arena by grabbing a place ahead of corporate mavericks like Bill Gates and market swingers like the US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in a list of 'top fifty people that matter now' published by a

Fortune

group magazine.

"The Emerging Global Middle Class of China, India, Russia, Brazil and elsewhere" has been ranked at the seventh position in the "50 who matter now" list in the latest July issue of Business 2.0 magazine, which is part of global media giant CNN-Time Warner group that also publishes Fortune, Money and Fortune Small Business magazines.

The global recognition comes at a time when the Indian middle class is being termed as the driving force behind a retail revolution in the country and the future economic growth. Incidentally, the 'emerging middle class' has got company from the consumers as well in the list which is led by "You! The consumer as creator" at the top position.

The Indian middle class, along with their counterparts in China, Russia, Brazil and other emerging economies, has outscored a host of who's who on the global arena -- Microsoft founder Bill Gates, US Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, entertainment mogul and TV show host Oprah Winfrey, Virgin Group Chairman Richard Branson, Oracle's Larry Ellison, Intel's Paul Otellini, Dell's Michael Dell, Toyota Chairman Fujio Cho, author of bestsellers like 'Getting Things Done' David Allen are just a few who have lagged behind.

In addition, CEOs of global corporate majors such as Walt Disney, Motorola, Hewlett-Packard, AT&T, Symantec, Lucent Technologies, Amazon.Com, Salesforce.Com, aQuantive, Alibaba.Com, InterActiveCorp, O'Reilly Media and Orascom Telecom have all been placed below the world's emering middle class in the list.

The list also boasts of another Indian name with venture capitalist of India-origin Vinod Khosla grabbing the 33rd position in the list of 50 who matter in this world. Khosla has been the co-founder of IT giant Sun Microsystems and is considered as one of the most influential partners at top venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers.

While justifying the seventh rank of emerging middle class, the Business 2.0 magazine quoted a Goldman Sachs study that says that more than 800 million people in China, India, Russia, and Brazil will qualify as middle class in the next decade -- meaning they will earn more than 3,000 dollars per year.

This figure represents more than the combined population of the United States, Western Europe, and Japan. "These ambitious, well-educated workers represent both a threat and opportunity for corporate America. On the one hand, thanks to global competition, they're bringing brutal cost pressure to bear on US products.

Yet at the same time, these newly affluent consumers have money to spend -- estimated at more than 1 trillion dollars a year and they generally aspire to own American brands and other high-quality imports," it added.

"This emerging class is looking forward to enjoying a more comfortable way of life, and huge opportunities await the global firms that figure out how to deliver that at a price the workers can afford," said the magazine.

Among those who have been placed above the emerging middle class in the list, Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page has been ranked at second position, Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs is at third place, News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch is at fourth, Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs at fifth and Genentech's product development president Susan Desmond-Hellmann has been placed at the sixth position.

The first slot has been grabbed by the consumers of the world. The magazine said, "They've long said the customer is always right. But they never really meant it. Now they have no choice".

Companies like Delta Air Lines and T-Mobile are turning to customers to create their ad slogans, while Procter and Gamble and Lego are incorporating consumers' ideas into new products, it added.

The magazine said in its cover story encompassing the top-50 list that the names present in the list were not selected on the basis of fame, net worth, or the accomplishments of yesteryear.

Instead, it aimed at identifying people whose ideas, products and business insights are changing today's world and those who are reshaping the future by inventing important new technologies, exploiting emerging opportunities, "or throwing their weight around in ways that are sure to make everyone else take notice."