Sonia Gandhi, president of India’s ruling party Congress, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh are ranked 12th and 19th respectively on the Forbes list of ‘The World’s Most Powerful People’. U.S. President Barack Obama retaining his top position.

Sonia Gandhi, 65, who was ranked sixth on Forbes list of Power Women, “has the reins of the world’s second-most-populous country and tenth-largest economy”, the U.S. business magazine said.

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

Listing Manmohan Singh, 80, 19th on the power list, Forbes says that he is the architect of India’s econonomic reforms but his quiet intellectualism is increasingly seen as “timid and soft”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel moves up to number two from fourth place last year, followed by Russian President Vladimir Putin (No. 3), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Co-chair Bill Gates (No. 4) and Pope Benedict XVI (No. 5).

Rounding out the top 10 are U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke (No. 6), Saudi Arabian King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud (No. 7), European Central Bank President Mario Draghi (No. 8), General Secretary, Communist Party of China Xi Jinping (No. 9) and British Prime Minister David Cameron (No. 10).

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (No. 25) dropped out of the Top 10 to 25, from No. 9 in 2011. Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is listed 28th on the list, while Zaheer ul-Islam the “new head of Pakistan’s notorious intelligence service” Inter-Services Intelligence is ranked 52nd.

Among the 14 newcomers to the list are LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman (No. 71), the world’s most powerful venture capitalist and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk (No. 66), the entrepreneur behind Paypal, Tesla Motors and the private space industry.

They are joined by President Francois Hollande (No. 14) of France, North Korea Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un (No. 44) and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer (No. 46).

Among the drop-offs are Chinese President Hu Jintao, who is on his way out of office and U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – both of whom have announced they won’t return to their powerful posts for Obama’s second term.IANS

How it works

Forbes magazine compiles an annual list of the world’s most powerful people. It uses four criteria: power over lots of people, financial resources controlled, whether the person has power in various spheres of life, and whether that person actively uses their power. The list has one slot for every 100 million people on Earth, with 71 slots in 2012.