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Netflix Executive Bela Bajaria Lone Indian American Among ‘TIME 100 Most Influential People’ List

Netflix Executive Bela Bajaria Lone Indian American Among ‘TIME 100 Most Influential People’ List

  • Joining her are Indian businessman Gautam Adani, Supreme Court of India lawyer and activist Karuna Nundy, and Kashmiri human rights activist Khurram Parvez.

Bela Bajaria, head of Global TV at Netflix is the lone Indian American on this year’s ‘TIME 100 Most Influential People’ list. Joining her are three Indians – businessman Gautam Adani, attorney Karina Nundy, and Kashmiri human rights activist Khurram Parvez. The annual list honors global influencers “who shaped the year, and stood up or stood out.”

From 2020, Bajaria oversees English language and local language scripted and unscripted series around the world on the streaming platform. Previously, she oversaw local language originals, and original series across Europe, the Middle East, Turkey, Africa, India, Asia, and Latin America. 

In her essay in TIME, actress, writer and producer Mindy Kaling notes how Bajaria’s “career is full of gambles that have materialized into huge successes.” Adding that it is “a risky path” that women of color in entertainment are not always encouraged to take.

Bajaria “is helping create the future of television,” Kaling says, adding that “the shows she has shepherded have become global phenomenons, bridging people and cultures by reminding us that, at the end of the day, we all love sex (“Bridgerton”), love (“Indian Matchmaking”), and sometimes, yes, murder competitions (“Squid Game”).

Kaling credits her for “opening doors for women and people of color by supporting them and giving them a platform to make hits,” like her show “Never Have I Ever,” a coming-of-age comedy about an Indian American teen, which was seen by 40 million people when it debuted on Netflix. “It was Bela’s idea to make that show,” Kaling writes. “I worried it would be too specific and niche to have wide appeal. Bela had the foresight to see that there is no “niche” anymore—there’s just good, relatable storytelling, which is always universal.”

Billionaire industrialist and philanthropist Gautam Adani is the chairman and founder of the Adani Group, an Ahmedabad-based multinational conglomerate involved in port development and operations in India. Once a regional business, “it now spans airports, private ports, solar and thermal power, and consumer goods,” writes author Debashish Roy Chaudhury in TIME. “Adani Group is now a national behemoth in the world’s sixth-largest economy, though Adani stays out of the public eye, quietly building his empire.”

Many have attributed Adani’s “meteoric rise” to his proximity to Modi, whose government is apparently following a policy of creating “national champions,” like him, Roy Chowdhury writes. “Like many countries that have in the past created global conglomerates this way, India is also undergoing an unprecedented concentration of economic and political power that reinforce one another,” he continues. “If Modi symbolizes the second, Adani is the poster boy of the first, as he competes with Warren Buffett to be the world’s fifth-richest person. With Modi’s stated goal of making India a $5 trillion economy by 2025, Adani’s journey may have only just begun.”

A lawyer at the Supreme Court of India, Karuna Nundy is also “a public activist who ably—and bravely—uses her voice both inside and outside the courtroom to bring about change,” writes Menaka Guruswamy, a senior advocate at the Supreme Court of India. 

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She describes Nundy as “a champion of women’s rights” who has advocated for the reform of anti­rape laws and fought cases relating to sexual harassment in the workplace. She has also played a significant role in drafting the anti-rape bill after the 2012 Delhi gang rape.

“Karuna also takes great pains to explain legal issues in a way that engages the media and public,” Guruswamy writes. “She can discuss the law simply and deftly. By doing so she creates an accessible discourse about rights in a time when those rights are at risk.”

Khurram Parvez is the chairperson of Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances and Program Coordinator of Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society. A recipient of the 2006 Reebok Human Rights Award, he was arrested in November of last year, because “he had to be silenced, for his was a voice that resounded around the globe for his fierce fight against human-rights violations and injustices in the Kashmir region,” writes journalist Rana Ayyub in the Times. “The soft-spoken Khurram is almost a modern-day David who gave a voice to families that lost their children to enforced disappearances, allegedly by the Indian state,” she writes. “Khurram is the story and the storyteller of the insurgency and the betrayal of the people of Kashmir.”

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