Indian-American comedian and actor Hasan Minhaj has been named in Time magazine’s 2019 list of 100 most influential people in the world. Also named in the coveted list are lawyers Arundhati Katju and Menaka Guruswamy, Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.
In Minhaj’s profile for Time, The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah writes about the first time the two met in 2014. It was on the sets of the Comedy Central show “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”
“We were both fresh-faced kids trying to find our voice in the fast-paced world of late-night television,” Noah writes. “Fast-forward five years later, Hasan is still as fresh-faced as ever, but his voice booms across screens around the world, thanks to his groundbreaking Netflix show ‘Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj’.”
Noah goes on to say that “after hosting the White House Correspondents’ Dinner and releasing his stand-up special ‘Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King’ in 2017, the opportunity for a late-night show of his own wasn’t just obvious, it was necessary. We’ve needed Hasan’s voice since Donald Trump came down that golden escalator and turned immigrants and Muslims into his targets.
He continues: “See, Hasan is a first-generation, Indian-American Muslim. But Hasan also loves the NBA, struggles with a “crippling” sneaker habit and speaks fluent hip-hop. ‘Patriot Act’ is the manifestation of Hasan’s whip-smart commentary, charisma and sincerity. It’s also a consistent reminder that Hasan is America. And America is Hasan.”
On his six-month-old 32-episode Netflix show, Minhaj, 33, has been taking on socially relevant topics including the Indian elections, student loan debt crisis, Amazon’s plan for world domination and immigration enforcement in the Trump era.
But the episode that got the most attention was his takedown of Mohammad bin Salman, which Netflix pulled from the Saudi Arabian market at its government’s request. “The Patriot Act” is also nominated for a Peabody Award in the entertainment category.
Also featured in among Pioneers are Katju and Guruswamy, who led the fight for equal rights for the LGBTQ community in India and were lead lawyers representing the petitioners seeking to decriminalise homosexual activity between consenting adults, which was punishable by up to 10 years in jail according to Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. Along with being a Supreme Court of India judge, Guruswamy is the B.R. Ambedkar Research Scholar and Lecturer at Columbia Law School.
The “two amazing public-interest litigators,” were honored by Priyanka Chopra, who writes: “Armed with a well-planned strategy that went beyond their well-researched legal arguments, Arundhati and Menaka became beacons of hope for the Indian LGBTQ+ community. Their perseverance and commitment led an entire community to a historic win by humanizing their struggles and giving them the freedom to love.”
Chopra says Arundhati and Menaka have helped take a giant step for LGBTQ+ rights in the world’s largest democracy. In their committed fight for justice, they have shown us that we as a society must continue to make progress, even after laws are changed, and that we must make an effort to understand, accept and love. It is who we are as people.”
Ambani, who’s listed among Titans is the richest Indian. This year, he retained the top spot in the Forbes annual list of 100 richest Indian tycoons, According to Forbes, his wealth increased to $38 billion from $22.7 billion last year. Writing his profile, Anand Mahindra, chairman of business conglomerate the Mahindra Group says “Ambani’s father Dhirubhai was a visionary in Indian business, whose Reliance Industries conglomerate pioneered ways of targeting global scale,: adding, “But Ambani’s vision is now even more ambitious than that of the father whose blessings he unfailingly invokes at the launch of each initiative.”
Mahindra says the scale of Reliance Jio mobile-data network, which has already connected over 280 million people in India with low-cost 4G “is impressive by any standard. But what is truly jaw-dropping is the way it will allow Reliance to potentially dominate a staggering array of new businesses.”
Pakistan Prime Minister is listed among leaders like President Donald Trump and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Journalist Ahmed Rashid says “Pakistan is at a critical crossroads, and the man in charge is the closest it has to a rock star.” Khan captained the team that won the 1992 Cricket World Cup, built a cancer hospital in Lahore, then a university for kids who could never have dreamed of attending one.
Khan, who Rashid says entered politics 20 years ago, is now “Prime Minister of an impoverished nation that cannot pay its bills and is dependent on handouts from rich neighbors like China and the Arab Gulf states.” Rashid says that despite all the criticism, Khan “still generates the broadest hope among young and old that he can turn Pakistan around, and help make South Asia an ocean of peace rather than a state of permanent conflict.”