Reliance Foundation Chairperson Nita Ambani has been named the most powerful businesswoman in Asia by Forbes, leading a list of 50 women leaders from the region that includes eight from India. SBI Chairman and Managing Director Arundhati Bhattacharya has been ranked second on the 2016 'Asia's 50 Power Businesswomen' list that features trailblazing women from China, Indonesia, Australia, Vietnam, Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, the Philippines and New Zealand.
Apart from Ambani and Bhattacharya, six women from India have made to the list, including Mu Sigma CEO Ambiga Dhiraj (14), Welspun India CEO Dipali Goenka (16), Lupin CEO Vinita Gupta (18), ICICI Bank Managing Director & CEO Chanda Kochhar (22), VLCC Health Care Founder and vice chairman Vandana Luthra (26) and Biocon Founder, Chairman & Managing Director Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw (28).
The list acknowledges the "inroads women are making in the business world but gender inequality persists. Women are best positioned to know what it will take to get more of them into commanding roles in the workforce and keep them there," Forbes said.
Describing her as the "first lady of Indian business", Forbes said Ms Ambani, 52, is a "power near the throne" and makes her debut on the list because of her rising profile in Reliance Industries, led by her husband and India's richest man Mukesh Ambani. "In a country where billionaire wives tend to remain in the shadow of their husbands, Nita's rising profile in the Reliance empire is unusual and earns her a debut spot," on the power businesswomen ranking this year, Forbes said of Ms Ambani, who is also Director of Reliance Industries.
On Ms Bhattacharya, 60, Forbes said she is facing her "most challenging test" yet with the State Bank of India as it grapples with mounting bad loans, which stood at USD 11 billion in December and caused net profit to plunge more than 60 per cent to USD 190 million in a recent quarter. Ms Dhiraj, 40, became the first female boss of an Indian-owned tech unicorn when she took over as CEO of Mu Sigma, a provider of data-analytics services, from husband Dhiraj Rajaram, who founded the firm in 2004.