Modi, Ma debut on Forbes 'most powerful' list

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the highest ranking newcomer on 'The World's 72 Most Powerful People' list compiled by Forbes, while Alibaba CEO Jack Ma also made his first appearance.

The list takes into account the amount of money listees control, the number of people they impact, the size of their sphere of influence and how actively they wield their power.

Modi - who was elected Prime Minister in May with a landslide victory for his Bharatiya Janata Party, giving India its first parliamentary majority in 25 years - debuted at number 15.

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The charismatic leader previously led the north-western state of Gujarat, where he was praised for opening the state's economy, but was criticized for allegedly turning a blind eye while mobs attacked Muslims during riots in 2002.

As the new leader of Asia's third largest economy, Modi has promised decisive steps to unblock stalled investments across the country.

Other high ranking newcomers from Asia include Jack Ma, China's richest man. The founder of Alibaba, China's largest e-commerce firm, ranked 30th.

Narendra Modi, India's prime minister, gestures as he speaks at a seminar hosted by Nikkei Inc. and Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) in Tokyo, Japan, on Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014.
Tomohiro Ohsumi | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Narendra Modi, India's prime minister, gestures as he speaks at a seminar hosted by Nikkei Inc. and Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) in Tokyo, Japan, on Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014.

The ex-school teacher turned tech entrepreneur's first appearance on the list follows Alibaba's breaking $25 billion initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange in September.

Meanwhile, the head of China's largest internet company Tencent - CEO Ma Huateng - also joined the list for the first time at number 53.

The top five most powerful people remained unchanged from last year, however.

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Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin topped the list, followed by U.S. President Barack Obama, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Xi Jinping in third place, Pope Francis in fourth and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in fifth.

Twenty six on the list were from the U.S., while six were from China, three from India, two from Hong Kong and one from Taiwan.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg – ranked 22nd most powerful – and North Korea Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un – ranked 49th – were the youngest on the list, at ages 30 and 31, respectfully.

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A more controversial newcomer was terror group Islamic State's chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who ranked 54th.