South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Girls Who Code founder and chief executive Reshma Saujani — both Indian Americans — were named among Fortune magazine’s “50 Greatest World Leaders.”
The third annual list was announced March 24, and also included New Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The Fortune list sought outstanding leaders in all sectors of society around the world. It recognized those who are inspiring others to act, to follow them on a worthy quest and who have shown staying power.
Haley, 44, came in at No. 17 on the list. In the summer of 2015, following the massacre of nine people in a Charleston, S.C., church, Haley was instrumental in the removal of the Confederate flag from the state capitol grounds. That removal sparked a movement throughout the South to remove the charged symbol, Fortune said.
It added that the Republican Haley “is proving that Trumpism isn’t the only way. South Carolina’s Indian American governor was among the earliest in her party to call out GOP presidential front-runner (Donald Trump), warning against ‘the siren call of the angriest voices’— in a nationally televised State of the Union response, no less.”
Coming in at No. 20 on the list was Saujani. Fortune explained that at a TED talk in February 2015, the 40-year-old Saujani stressed teaching girls to be brave rather than perfect. The video of the talk she gave has accrued just shy of 1 million views.
“She’s well-qualified to preach that message: It took the former Wall Street attorney three tries to get into Yale Law School,” Fortune wrote in its piece of the New York-based GWC chief.
Saujani's organization aims to get more women into computer science and has shown signs of success. The magazine wrote that by the end of the year, more than 40,000 girls will have gone through the GWC training and internship programs. By the summer, GWC will dole out $1 million in scholarships, it added.
Hasina cracked the top 10 of the list, coming in at No. 10. The 68-year-old prime minister is the only female leader among the Organization of Islamic Cooperation member states.
“Hasina has deftly navigated the competing demands of Islamic tradition and women’s rights. She has committed Bangladesh, the nation with the world’s fourth-largest Muslim population, to securing legal protections for women and helping them attain more education, financial freedom and political power,” Fortune wrote of the leader.
Under her reign, roughly 30 percent of women in Bangladesh have at least a secondary education, with the nation outpacing all other South Asian countries on the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index.
The 47-year-old Kejriwal, who came in at No. 42 on the list, risked his position to fight pollution. He unveiled a blueprint to tackle the smog in New Delhi – the world’s most polluted city, according to the World Health Organization. “Many were skeptical” of the blueprint, Fortune noted.
A pilot program that allowed vehicles on the road only on alternate days showed uplifting results, Fortune wrote.
“Roads were less clogged, hourly particulate air pollution concentrations dropped by 13 percent and citizens could breathe deep,” it wrote.
Topping the Fortune list of world leaders was Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel, National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the Roman Catholic Church’s Pope Francis and Apple chief executive Tim Cook rounded out the top five.