Sunday Levity: Ranking global leaders (and dictators)

Two dean’s lists

Dr Manmohan Singh, India’s prime minister, is only the 19th most influential leader in the world, ranking just below such minnows as William H Gates, philanthropher, and Vladimir Putin, president of Russia. And he ranks well below a certain Gen Pervez Musharraf, president of Pakistan who at number four is more influential than his close friend George W Bush, president of the United States of America who barely misses making it to the top 10.

The question is who — in this list compiled by the Eurasia Group — is the most important man in the world? Well, it’s not a man, and she does not hold any official position of power: she is Sonia Gandhi.

But the Eurasia Group’s definition of influence seems to be rather narrow. It ignores Osama bin Laden and his now ubiquitous influence — from concrete barriers outside government buildings, to strip-searches at airports, to machine-readable passports, to fingerprinting and mug-shotting, to a new position in the cabinet of the most powerful man in the world. Surely, bin Laden has tremendous influence in the world, even over those parts and people not under his ideological sway.

He is a non-state actor; but so, almost, is Sonia Gandhi. But even the world’s most influential leader is hard pressed when it comes to influencing the elections in India’s Bihar state.

Meanwhile, the world’s ten worst dictators have been paraded in several leading American newpapers this week. General Musharraf has made it to that this too, and rightly so.

Update: Does the editor of Pakistan’s Daily Times read the Acorn?

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