30 Under 30 2024

Forbes India Rich List 2023: From Raj to richest

This evolution is doubtless inspiring for those seeking to emulate the (Licence) Raj to Riches generations. But is wealth the end game? Is it really that stash—and all the glittering trappings that come with it—that people want most?

Brian Carvalho
Published: Dec 4, 2023 12:04:04 PM IST
Updated: Dec 4, 2023 12:10:59 PM IST

Forbes India Rich List 2023: From Raj to richest

 
What do people want most? The answer would vary depending on your circumstances, although the list of desires appears pretty universal. Happiness is a common wish, as are freedom, fulfilment, peace. But, arguably, the most popular longing is to get rich—the poor seek to better their condition and the already-rich to build on it. 

Pre-1991—the year India embarked on economic liberalisation—the avenues to get rich were limited: Either you inherited or were one of those rare adventurers willing to risk it all. Over time, the opportunities increased.  

As the equity cult found more and more followers, wealth creation became a thing. Business owners played Pied Piper to the small investor as the initial public offering market took shape. Both became richer, except for dubious exceptions. And the arrival of venture capital saw the birth of more entrepreneurs. Net result? From just a handful, India had close to 170 billionaires at last count—behind only the United States and China. Individual investors who have stayed the course would have also prospered, with benchmark indices surging over 20 times in the past 30-odd years.
 
This evolution is doubtless inspiring for those seeking to emulate the (Licence) Raj to Riches generations. But is wealth the end game? Is it really that stash—and all the glittering trappings that come with it—that people want most?
 
Perhaps the answer lies in those bibles of development: Self-help books. I turned to a Business Insider list of 25 of the Best Self-Help Books to read in 2022, based on Goodreads reviews. The expectation was that the list would be populated with trending treasure tomes like I will Teach you to be Rich, Think and get Rich, How Rich People Think… you get the drift. Turns out I thought wrong.  

Rather, it was a more eclectic list, with timeless classics like How to Win Friends and Influence People and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People; there were also the modern bestseller, The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck, described by at least one critic as self-help for people who hate that word. Rich Dad, Poor Dad was perhaps the only book on the list directly linked to wealth accumulation.  

There may be a lesson here. Wealth may just be a by-product of various forms of self-actualisation that self-help book authors write about. Atomic Habits by James Clear, for instance, aims to help readers change bad habits and build good ones. If you do succeed, you’re highly unlikely to be struggling with insolvency. Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret is about finding the power within oneself to achieve the seemingly impossible—including a billion bucks.

It’s important to put the Forbes India Rich List—put together by Forbes Asia Wealth Editor Naazneen Karmali—in that perspective. Most of the ladies and gentlemen who figure on it are success stories for various reasons; the wealth is the icing.
 
Success tends to begin with a single spark—like a trading business started from the small town Gobindgarh in sheer desperation in the 1950s that is today worth almost ₹80,000 crore on the stock markets. That’s the story of the Qimat Rai Gupta-founded Havells; today it is a pioneer in the fast-moving electrical goods (FMEG) category, thanks to the efforts of the next-gen Anil Rai Gupta who graces one of the five Forbes India covers in this fortnight’s collectors’ edition. For more on the remarkable journey—and the competition that is closing in—turn to Naandika Tripathi’s ‘Back In The Game’.  

And, lest we forget, the junior Gupta and his mother Vinod are at Rank 30, worth $6.7 billion.

Best,
Brian Carvalho
Editor, Forbes India
Email: Brian.Carvalho@nw18.com
Twitter ID: @Brianc_Ed

(This story appears in the 14 December, 2023 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

Post Your Comment
Required
Required, will not be published
All comments are moderated