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These NRIs made it big; you name the best

Vikram Pandit, Kiran Desai, Sunita Williams, Indra Nooyi, Vodafone's Sarin and Fareed Zakaria feature in the last category for the Indian of the Year award.
None | By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 12, 2008 12:45 AM IST

They are all world players, global gladiators. They are heard, read and followed by millions. Some of them are in a position to influence policy, lifestyle and fortunes of people all over the world.

Vikram Pandit, for instance, heads Citigroup, which hold assets worth $2.4 trillion, employs 332,000 staff around the world and holds over 200 million customer accounts in over 100 countries. Phew! And he is of Indian origin.

The sixth and the last category of six contenders for the Indian of the Year award instituted by CNN-IBN in partnership with

Hindustan Times

is that of non-resident Indians, people of Indian origin. And what a list it is.

The second candidate is Kiran Desai, the latest Booker Prize winner from India — for her book

The Inheritance of Loss

. She is the daughter of famous author Anita Desai. Kiran lived in India till she was 14. The family moved to England, and then to the US.

First book,

Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard

, received critical acclaim and a prize for the best first book. The second,

The Inheritance of Loss

, made her famous forever, winning the Man Booker in 2006.

The next contender is a US naval officer and a NASA astronaut. Easy, was it? Sunita Williams, of course. She holds three records for female space travelers: longest space flight (195 days), number of space walks (four), and total time spent on space walks (29 hours and 17 minutes).

And she is of Indian origin too, her father hails from Gujarat. She visited India in September 2007, and was both impressed and touched by the reception she got here. She met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

The next contender is also a woman. And she runs the cola giant Pepsi, the world's fourth largest food and beverage company. Indra Nooyi was born and brought up in Chennai, went to IIM Calcutta and then left for Yale. She hasn't looked back since.

She has been named the most powerful in business both in 2006 and 2007 by Forbes magazine. Former secretary of state Henry Kissinger is a friend and reportedly described her as a "wild New York Yankees fan."

The next contender is also a chief executive officer, of UK's leading mobile phone company Vodafone. He is of Indian origin but is an American citizen. He was born in Madhya Pradesh, went to IIT Kharagpur and the Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley.

And then he brought Vodafone to India in a much publicised entry as the biggest ever foreign direct investment. Vodafone bought out Hutch and is now quickly establishing itself as a major mobile player.

And then there is Fareed Zakaria, the sixth contender. Does he need an introduction? Editor of Newsweek International, overseeing all the magazine's outside editions. He is a well-regarded political commentator and columnist and is the author of the highly acclaimed book

The future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad


Zakaria was born in India and is the son of Rafique Zakaria, who was a Congress leader and Central government minister. His mother Fatima was a journalist. He went to school in Mumbai and then moved to Yale, US.

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Kiran Desai




Sunita Williams












Fareed Zakaria

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Voting closes on January 15.

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