The number of billionaires in India nearly doubled to 52 in 2009 and their combined net worth reached $276 billion, or a quarter of the country's GDP, the India Rich List published by Forbes magazine revealed. A rebounding stock market and a robust economy were behind this turnaround after a year of crisis when their fortunes had fallen
Mukesh Ambani, who heads Reliance Industries, India's largest company by market capitalisation, remained at the top of the wealth chart with a net worth of $32 billion, a rise of 54 percent from the last year's level.
Steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, who made his fortune in the West but still retains his Indian passport, came second with a wealth of $30 billion. The third place went to Mukesh’s estranged brother, Anil, whose net worth rose 40 percent to $17.5 billion.
“This year's list shows yet again that when conditions in the financial markets and the economy are right, India has the scale and resources to produce billionaires faster than most of the countries on earth,” Naazneen Karmali, India Editor of Forbes Asia and Mumbai bureau manager for Forbes magazine, said.
The substantial jump in net worths is evidence that entrepreneurial capitalism is alive and kicking in India, Indrajit Gupta, Editor of Forbes India, said: “What’s more, the growth in wealth creation has been broad-based. Entrepreneurs from a wide variety of sectors comprise the list.”
Though the top ten positions remain largely unchanged, there are some shifts in fortunes across the list. Sunil Mittal has moved down from Number 4 to Number 8 and Azim Premji has moved up to Number 4 position. The Ruia brothers with a net worth of $13.6 billion have made it to number 5 this year. Adi Godrej has moved out of the top 10 to the number 12 position. Savitri Jindal, Nonexecutive Chairwoman of O.P. Jindal Group, at a net worth of $12 billion this year has made it to number 7 on the list – she is one of only six women on the list. The richest newcomers are two brothers from Torrent Power -- Sudhir and Samir Mehta, ranked 23 at $2.02 billion.
Another notable mention is Nandan Nilekani who has stepped down from Infosys board and is now a part of government. He ranks 43 with a net worth of $1.25 billion. Southern India’s TV king, Kalanithi Maran, ranked 20, almost doubled his net worth to $2.3 billion from $1.2 billion. His Sun TV Network operates in four states in the south, a region that accounts for one-quarter of India’s population and one-third of those with television in their homes. Forbes Asia features a cover story on Maran.
The Forbes India cover story highlights how 2009 has been a turnaround year for the rich in India. The list is an indicator of how India’s billionaires have done better than their counterparts in other parts of the world. The story highlights interesting differences between the rich in India and China. The 100 richest Indians are worth $276 billion; their Chinese counterparts have a net worth of $170 billion. The three richest Indians are worth $79.5 billion. It takes 24 Chinese billionaires to be worth $80 billion. The Top 10 Richest in India are
1. Mukesh Ambani $32 billion
2. Lakshmi Mittal $30 billion
3. Anil Ambani $17.5 billion
4. Azim Premji $14.9 billion
5. Shashi & Ravi Ruia $13.6 billion
6. KP Singh $13.5 billion
7. Savitri Jindal $12 billion
8. Sunil Mittal $8.2 billion
9. Kumar Birla $7.8 billion
10. Gautam Adani $6.4 billion