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Sonia, PM in Forbes list of top 20 most powerful persons

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New York: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi have been named among the top 20 most powerful persons in the world by Forbes magazine in its annual power rankings, which placed US President Barack Obama as number one for a second year in a row.

India’s richest businessman Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani and and Arcelor Mittal CEO Lakshmi Mittal, also feature in the list that comprises 71 mighty heads of state, CEOs, entrepreneurs and philanthropists who “truly run  and  shape  the world of 7.1 billion people.”

Sonia Gandhi dropped a notch from last year’s list and ranks at number 12 this year ahead of Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang and French President Francois Hollande.

Forbes said the 65-year-old leader of India’s ruling political party has the reins of the world’s second-most-populous country and tenth-largest economy.

“Son Rahul is next in line to take over India’s most famous political dynasty,” it added.

Coming in at the 20th spot is Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Oxford and Cambridge-educated economist who is the architect of India’s economic reforms. Singh had ranked 19th in the list last year.

Ambani, owner of the world’s most expensive private residence, ranks 37th in the list.

Mittal, ranked 47th in the most powerful people list, has a net worth of $ 16 billion but also has “lots of headaches, including S&P and Moody downgrades of his company’s debt to junk status.”

Forbes said 51-year-old Obama emerged “unanimously” as the world’s most powerful person for the second year running.

The second most powerful person in the world also happens to be the most powerful woman, German chancellor 58-year-old Angela Merkel. She jumped up from the number four position last year to take the runner-up spot on the 2012 list.

The list also includes Russian President Vladimir Putin at number three, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates (4), General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Xi Jinping (9), Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin (20), Iran’s Supreme leader Ali Khamenei (21) UN chief Ban Ki-moon (30), North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (44) and former US President Bill Clinton (50).

Forbes dropped US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from the list this year. Clinton, who had ranked 16th last year, does not feature in 2012 rankings as she is not expected to return to her powerful post for Obama’s second term.

It is for the same reason that US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner also does not feature in this year’s list.

Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is ranked 28th in the list.