International Women's Day: The top ten powerful ladies of India

In previous times, the status of women in India was inferior than men in the practical life, but now women are redefining power and transforming the world. See the list of ten most powerful women's of India.

1. Arundhati Bhattacharya

Arundhati Bhattacharya mid-day.com

Arundhati Bhattacharya was named the first female (and youngest) chair at the government-owned State Bank of India in 2013 after nearly four decades of service. She oversees 220,000 staff members in 16,000 branches and services 225 million customers at the country's largest lender (assets $400 billion) with offices spread over 36 countries. Recognizing the multiple roles of working women, Bhattacharya pioneered a two-year sabbatical policy for female employees taking maternity leave or give extended care to family.

2. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw rediff.com

When Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw founded Biocon in 1978, it was a small industrial-enzymes company. Now Biocon is India's largest publicly traded biopharmaceutical company, which had $460 billion in revenue last year and distributes its products in 85 countries around the world. Mazumdar-Shaw also runs philanthropic initiatives through the Biocon Foundation and founded a 1,400-bed cancer center in Bangalore in 2009. The facility is dedicated to providing care to all patients, regardless of income level or social standing.

3. Shobhana Bhartia

Shobhana Bhartia alchetron.com

Media baroness Shobhana Bhartia chairs and runs listed HT Media, publisher of English daily Hindustan Times, a Hindi daily of the same name, and business paper Mint. The group also operates four FM radio stations and multiple websites including job portal Shine.com and cinema portal Desimartini.com. HT Media's tutoring arm Studymate has expanded into coaching for the admissions exam for India's elite engineering schools.

4. Chanda Kochhar

Chanda Kochhar rediff.com

As the managing director and CEO of India's ICICI Bank, Chanda Kochhar oversees nearly $125 billion in assets and recently announced a 14% increase in profits over last year. She has been credited with leading a remarkable transformation at India's largest private sector bank, which experienced major setbacks after the 2008 financial crisis. Her focus on "mobile banking" in rural areas to reach more clients has been praised as a model for low cost expansion in a country with a burgeoning middle class. 

5. Indra Nooyi

Indra Nooyi  storypick.com

The Madras-born Nooyi is the president and chief executive officer of PepsiCo, the world`s fourth-largest food and beverage company. According to Forbes magazine`s 2006 poll, Nooyi is the fourth most powerful woman in the world. Fortune Magazine selected her as the Most Powerful Woman in Business in 2006. 

6. Sonia Gandhi

Sonia Gandhi  tufing.com

The Congress president and the chairperson of the ruling United Progressive Alliance, Sonia was named the third most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine in 2004 and currently ranks 13th. She said ‘no’ to prime ministership in 2004. But she wields more power and the Opposition parties call her the ‘super PM. 


7. Sania Mirza

Sania Mirza  pardaphash.com

She is the highest ranked female tennis player ever from India, with career high rankings of number 31 in singles and 24 in doubles. She became the first Indian woman to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament at the 2005 US Open. She has notched up three top 10 wins against Svetlana Kuznetsova, Nadia Petrova and Martina Hingis.

8. Medha Patkar

Medha Patkar saharasamay.com

She is one of India's most energetic activists. She is loved by millions of Indians. She left her position on the faculty of Tata Institute of Social Sciences when she became immersed in the tribal and peasant communities in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. She founded the Narmada Bachao Andolan to fight for lakhs of people ousted by the Sardar Sarovar Dam and other large dams along the Narmada river.

9. Kiran Bedi

Kiran Bedi  dnaindia.com

Kiran Bedi is the first woman to join the Indian Police Service. She influenced several decisions of the IPS, particularly in the areas of control over narcotics, traffic management and VIP security. During her stint as the Inspector General of Prisons, Tihar Jail, she instituted a number of reforms in the management of the prison and initiated a number of measures such as detoxification programmes, yoga and meditation.

10. Irom Chanu Sharmila

Irom Chanu Sharmila  newindianexpress.com

Irom Chanu Sharmila is known for her campaign against the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 in Manipur. She resorted to hunger strike demanding the repeal of the AFSPA, on November 2, 2000, after soldiers of the Indian Paramilitary Assam Rifles allegedly killed ten young Meitei men in Malom. She is fasting for 15 years and still counting.