Life is not a template and neither is mine. Like several who have worked as journalists, I am a generalist in my over two decade experience across print, global news wires and dotcom firms. But there has been one underlying theme in each phase; life gave me the chance to observe and tell a story -- from early days tracking a securities scam to terror attacks and some of India's most significant court trials. Besides writing, I have jumped fences to become an entrepreneur, as an investment advisor -- and also taught the finer aspects of business journalism to young minds. At Forbes India, I also keep an eye on some of its proprietary specials like the Rich list, GenNext and Celebrity lists. An alumnus of Xavier Institute of Communications and H.R College of Commerce and Economics in Mumbai, I have worked for organisations such as Agence France-Presse, Business Standard, The Financial Express and The Times of India prior to this.
+$4.05 bln (162%)
Rank 19, Up 29 places
Ahead of several prominent industrialists, Acharya Balkrishna, 45, the co-founder and CEO of herbal consumer goods and ayurvedic products maker Patanjali Ayurved, is the highest gainer in the 2017 Forbes India Rich List in terms of percentage rise in wealth. He is up by 162 percent to $6.55 billion in 2017 from $2.5 billion in 2016. An ayurveda scholar, Balkrishna owns 98.6 percent in the company which he started in 2006, along with childhood friend and yoga guru Baba Ramdev (who is the company’s de facto brand ambassador, but does not hold any stake in the business). Patanjali has now emerged as a major disruptor—in terms of creating demand and adopting unique brand strategies—in the FMCG sector. It has forced the local arms of global giants such as Hindustan Unilever, P&G, Colgate Palmolive and local players like Dabur and Godrej Consumer Products Ltd to rethink their traditional marketing strategies. Balkrishna oversees the ayurvedic pharmacy, health care and alternative medicine clinics, besides ayurveda research institutes. Patanjali, which recorded net sales of ₹10,561 crore in FY17, plans to launch a range of textile garments soon.
+$1.55 bln (100%)
Rank 49, Up 37 places
This self-made 43-year-old entrepreneur, who is the founder and chairman of real estate developer and home loans provider Indiabulls Group, is the second highest gainer on the list, in percentage terms, with his wealth having doubled in the year under consideration. Gehlaut’s wealth has been on the rise led by rising demand for affordable housing—due to a mix of easy-to-get housing loans, low interest rates and increased transparency—after the government’s strong policy initiatives towards providing housing-for-all. For FY17, Indiabulls Housing Finance reported a loans growth CAGR of 27 percent and profit growth of 24 percent. The housing finance company plans to raise ₹45,000 crore ($6,764 million) for the current financial year, which would mainly be through bonds. Also, its finance company (Indiabulls Ventures) is on an expansion drive to raise ₹3,000 crore through a qualified institutional placement or a rights issue, with plans to enter SME lending and possibly asset reconstruction business.
Mangal Prabhat Lodha’s earnings have soared along with the growth in the real estate sector
Image: Ganesh Lad / Fotocorp
MANGAL PRABHAT LODHA
+$1.7 bln (82.9%)
Rank 36, Up 20 places
This is the case of one more real estate-based entrepreneur whose fortunes have improved, with the growth witnessed in the sector over the past year. Mangal Prabhat Lodha, 61, who is the founder of the Lodha Group—and a Member of the Legislative Assembly in his home state, Maharashtra—has been among the most active real estate property developers, selling homes in excess of ₹8,000 crore annually. The Lodha Group has set its sights on delivering two key projects in Mumbai, the World One project and Lodha Altamount. The group has revived plans for its IPO and the company expects to file documents over the next 4-8 months.