Writer Salman Rushdie and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar have been ranked 33rd and 77th respectively, in America's Foreign Policy Magazine's Top 100 Global Thinkers list.
Kumar was listed for turning around Bihar, which is often referred to as the country's "bleakest state" and the "jungle Raj" for its colonial levels of poverty and corruption.
Kumar, who was a low-key bureaucrat from a local center-left party, before winning the 2005 election, had taken innovative initiatives to crack down on crime, shame corrupt public officials, and boost economic development.
Kumar, who is now being floated as a potential prime minister for 2014, has overseen the construction of nearly 15,000 schools, hired 150,000 new teachers, launched a program to give free bikes to girls so they can get to class, and distributed free radios to lower-caste citizens.
In 2011, Indian economists Bibek Debroy and Laveesh Bhandari called Bihar India's least corrupt state.
New York-based writer Rushdie was ranked for defending free speech. This year saw the release of Rushdie's astonishingly well-timed memoir, Joseph Anton, which describes his life in hiding after the 1989 fatwa condemning him to death for The Satanic Verses, a book that fundamentalists deemed offensive to the Prophet Mohammed.
Rushdie has continued to make a powerfully personal case for freedom of expression, writing that the fatwa was "a violent attack not on the novel in general, or on free speech per se, but on a particular accumulation of words, and on the intentions and integrity and ability of the writer who had put those words together", the magazine said.