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Time100: Satya Nadella, Jigar Shah and Priyamvada Natarajan Among Most Influential People in the World

Time100: Satya Nadella, Jigar Shah and Priyamvada Natarajan Among Most Influential People in the World

  • Joining the four Indian Americans are actors Dev Patel and Alia Bhatt, Indian wrestler Sakshi Malik, Bangladeshi architect Marina Tabassum, and British-Indian restaurateur and cookbook author Asma Khan.

Actors Dev Patel and Alia Bhatt, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, World Bank president Ajay Banga, Department of Energy’s Jigar Shah and Yale professor Priyamvada Natarajan are among Time100, the magazine’s most influential people in the world. Joining them are Indian wrestler Sakshi Malik, Bangladeshi architect Marina Tabassum, and British-Indian restaurateur and cookbook author Asma Khan. The list includes surprising pairings of the list members and the guest contributors the magazine selects to write about them. 

The issue has four worldwide covers, each highlighting a member of the TIME100 — singer-songwriter Dua Lipa, football quarterback Patrick Mahomes, actor Taraji P. Henson, and Yulia Navalnaya, a leader of Russia’s opposition movement. 

“The influence recognized on this year’s TIME100 list of the world’s most influential people spans industries and continents,” said chief executive officer Jessica Sibley said.  The celebrities on the list will be celebrated at the TIME100 Summit on April 24 and the TIME100 Gala on April 25 in New York City.

Actor Daniel Kaluuya first met Dev Patel at “the very first read-through for Skins, before he ever got on TV.” The British-Indian actor was “so full of life,” Kaluuya writes, adding that they both “couldn’t believe we were missing school to do this.”

Patel “radiates goodness,” he continues. “His humanity shines through every time he graces the screen, leaving you no choice but to root for him even when his character is doing something foul; his presence makes you understand where he’s coming from.” Patel’s performance in “Monkey Man,” his latest film, and his directorial debut, is Kaluuya’s favorite. Patel gives us “a fierce, soulful empathy, a channeled rage, shades of him we have yet to see,” Kaluuya says, adding that he “limitless” and “fearless.,” Kaluuya writes. Patel “continues to surpass himself and surprise us, and we are all waiting for where he’ll take us next.”

Director, producer and writer Tom Harper describes Alia Bhatt as “a formidable talent.” She is “not only one of the world’s leading actors, admired for her work in the Indian film industry for over a decade, she is also a businesswoman and a philanthropist who leads with integrity,” he writes in Bhatt’s profile. He met Bhatt on the sets of “A Heart of Stone,” the Bollywood A-lister’s English-language film debut which he directed. She is “self-effacing and funny” on set, and goes about her work “focused, open to ideas, and willing to take creative risks,” he writes. He recalls “one of his favorite moments in the film” came during “an improvisation at the end of a take where she took the emotional thread and ran with it,” he writes. “Alia’s superpower is her ability to mix movie-star magnetism with authenticity and sensitivity,” he continues. “As an actor she is luminous, and as a person she brings the grounded assurance and creativity that make a truly international star.”

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who is on the Time 100 list for the third time, “is profoundly influential in shaping our future,” according to Mellody Hobson, CEO and president of Ariel Investments. Describing Nadella as “a technologist with heart,” Hobson says “he sees AI as a tool that will empower humans.” While there’s still “rightful concern about unintended consequences and misuse” of AI, she notes it is “so reassuring that Satya is one of AI’s steward.” When she served on the board of Starbucks with Nadella, she “noticed that he doesn’t need to be the center of attention. In fact, he doesn’t seem to need any attention at all. Still, he commands it.” She lauds Nadella for propelling Microsoft “to a $3 trillion-plus market value and making it the largest company in the world,” and admires him “for leading with integrity, strength, and kindness.”

Since Ajay Banga became president of the World Bank last June, he has “transformed” it with his “skill and drive,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen writes. At the World Bank, he “set forth a new vision to create a world free of poverty on a livable planet and moved boldly to make good on it —from pioneering innovative financial tools to reimagining partnerships across the multilateral development banks and with the private sector,” she wrote. “His sharp wit consistently enables him to cut through the noise,” she continues. “With unprecedented challenges such as climate change threatening our collective future, I cannot imagine a better partner with whom to take decisive action on behalf of people around the world.”

“Relentlessly optimistic, pioneering, and passionate,” Jigar Shah has “dedicated his life to unlocking the entrepreneurial opportunity that lies in a clean-energy transition,” writes. As director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office, Shah is “demonstrating how this truly is one of the greatest opportunities of our time.” He  oversees “more than $200 billion in government loans to bring energy innovation to the market,” and “leads one of the largest economic-development programs the world has ever seen,” Branson says. Shah served as the founding CEO of the Carbon War Room, a global non-profit founded by Branson and Virgin Unite to help entrepreneurs address climate change. “There is no doubt that when future generations write the history of the world’s clean-energy revolution, Jigar Shah will be hailed as one of its key architects,” he concludes. 

Priyamvada Natarajan is professor in the departments of astronomy and physics at Yale University. The theoretical astrophysicist interested in cosmology, gravitational lensing and black hole physics. Her research interests in black hole physics are focused on the formation, fueling, and feedback from supermassive black holes over cosmic time. Last November, “a novel approach developed years ago” by her, brought astronomers  “closer to under­standing how supermassive black holes that lurk at the centers of most galaxies are formed,” noted Shep Doeleman, astrophysicist and the founding director of the Event Horizon Telescope in Natarajan’s Time profile. It was a theory she had speculated, which was corroborated by “the piercing gaze of the James Webb Space Telescope,” Doeleman writes. She has “a knack for pursuing the most creative research, and as a fellow astronomer, I am always inspired by her work,” he says. “Her latest result takes us one step closer to understanding our cosmic beginnings.”

Padma Lakshmi met Asma Khan when she was a guest on “Top Chef,” where she cooked a thali meal for the contestants. “Asma is “a ball of energy with a wicked sense of humor,” Laskhmi writes. “She’s the auntie you would have said was your favorite growing up.” Her acclaimed London restaurant, Darjeeling Express, has an all-female kitchen; “most chefs are older South Asian immigrants who lack formal training..” What sets her restaurant apart is that her food “doesn’t taste like restaurant food,” Lashmi says. Although she’s been featured on “Chef’s Table” and has “won all kinds of acclaim for her food,” she’s “humble,” Lakshmi continues. She is excited for Khan “to start hosting the documentary series ‘Tiffin Stories,’ which will highlight food from the Indian diaspora. She will be a natural host: she’s hospitable, and genuinely cares about people.”

Sakshi Malik, India’s firsthand only female wrestler to win an Olympic medal in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, made headlines early last year when she quit the sport in protest after the Wrestling Federation of India named former head Brij Bhushan Singh’s close ally as president. She had led protests against Singh, a powerful ruling party Member of Parliament who was accused of sexually harassing female athletes. “What began as a small, targeted protest to demand decisive government action in favor of the wrestlers ballooned instead into a yearlong battle unprecedented in Indian sport, drawing support from across the country and attention from across the world,” writes documentary filmmaker Nisha Pahuja. Singh was charged with sexual harassment, stalking, and intimidation, charges he has denied. “This fight is no longer only for India’s female wrestlers,” said Malik of the movement she helped spark, “it is for the daughters of India whose voices have been silenced time and again.” Though Malik quit the sport in “an emotional, public, and very brave act of defiance, she did not, however, quit the battle,” Pahuja writes. “Her light, and the light of all those standing against harassment, continues to shine.”

Bangladeshi architect Marina Tabassum has developed a practice and a way of being that prioritizes local cultures and values, as well as the perils faced by our shared planet, writes Sarah M. Whiting, dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Design. “Tabassum’s altruism even extends to buildings themselves. She cares for her creations as creatures partaking in the resources of our earth.” Her Bait Ur Rouf Mosque in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which won the prestigious Aga Khan Award, she said a building “has to be able to breathe without artificial aids.” Elsewhere in the country, which faces increased flood risks due to climate change, she has developed houses that are cost-effective and easy to move—clearly, buildings shouldn’t just breathe; they should avoid getting their feet wet. While she practices very locally, she teaches, lectures, and is recognized internationally, modeling architecture not as an individual signature but as a collective Esperanto.

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