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March 6, 2009
Love her or hate her, you can't ignore politician Mayawati. The CM of Uttar Pradesh started life off in humble surroundings, the daughter of a Dalit telecommunications clerk in Delhi. Securing bachelor's degrees in Law and Education, she became a teacher before joining the Bahunjan Samaj Party in 1984 and switching to fulltime politics. The BSP, which sought to represent the Dalits, has become a political force to be reckoned with in the last few years and many are of the opinion that she will be the nation's next prime minister. Today, Mayawati is the highest income tax-paying politician in India, shelling out Rs 26 crore per year and is closing in on Sonia Gandhi on Forbes' list of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women -- she weighed in at number 59 as of 2008.

Life lesson from Mayawati:

  • Turn your perceived weaknesses into strengths; the lower down you start, the higher you'll climb.

    Photograph: Sondeep Shankar

    Also see: Salute the woman who inspires you!
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