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India Has 52 Billionaires; Mukesh Ambani Richest

The 2009 Forbes' India Rich List shows that the Indian rich are leading the global recovery

Published: Nov 19, 2009 11:25:05 AM IST
Updated: Dec 16, 2009 01:51:18 PM IST

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.

Kumar Birla, ninth on the rich list
Image: India Today Images
Kumar Birla, ninth on the rich list
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

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  • Ujjwal

    I have an idea guys for those who r very rich please don't go richer instead improve the condition of at least one city of india u like the most or which is the poorest. I don't think it will make them bankrupt of will reduce there balance to a very large extent.

    on Jan 15, 2011
  • Grace Titus

    What a shame, what is the use of having 52 billionaires when 1.1million people live at less than a dollar. When you just land in India you smell poverty.

    on Sep 14, 2010

    Now mukesh ambani wants to be no.1 richest in the world.......

    on Apr 21, 2010

    It's quite good for us as Indians, but it should be more in number. Anyway good.

    on Apr 20, 2010
  • arun reman

    Worlds top billionaires are from India and will continue so. After the British rule Indians are on the fast track of economy

    on Dec 9, 2009
  • florie ramdahin

    I am proud to be an Indian, I do not live in India, my forefathers came from India, so I carry within my heart and soul the love for my brothers and sisters who have reached there goal.

    on Dec 9, 2009
  • Dinesh Sachdev

    Although it is very pleasant to our ears hearing about the rising number of billionaires in India, the real question is how many of them have accumulated this kind of wealth through fair business practices?

    on Dec 6, 2009
  • Kingshuk Mukherjee

    So finally our INDIAN BILLIONAIRES have the CHINESE in terms of the Networth in the billionaires list. While all this is good news at the same time this extreme and growing divide between these "HAVES" (Billionaires) and the "HAVE-NOTS" (extreme poor) will only increase the Social Unrest and create an unjust society where only a few elite / privileged people of the society will be able to influence the whole country. This needs to CORRECTED and the sooner the better otherwise there will a huge increase in CRIME and may lead to a even new form of "URBAN NAXALISM". God bless INDIA and I hope this growth that our country is witnessing is really "INCLUSIVE" in all its true SOUL and SPIRIT. Jai Hind!

    on Nov 28, 2009
  • saikumar

    It was really a good article please send the top 50 billionaires of our country

    on Nov 28, 2009
  • Nirali

    @ Ajay Handa : I completely agree with you!

    on Nov 28, 2009
  • Amit

    These rich people have really done the nation proud and the easiest thing one can do is to either criticize them, by making them feel solely responsible for the poor people of this nation, or by praising them so much that every youngster gets a wrong picture that "Wealth is everything in this world". In todays India you can check out that any B.E., B.Pharm, BBA, MBA, MBBS, BALLB etc. degree student can easily earn a deluxe living style in our country or abroad. Thanks to the ample no. of jobs that the private sectors have created. But achieving this kind of enormous wealth really requires a determined and passionate mind. Imagine what materialistic thing on earth might Mr. Ambani or say Sharukh or Tendulkar might be yearning for (the latter two gentlemen don't even feature in the list in top 100.... I guess). So it's not a matter of the rich and poor divide. we just need to be happy about our countrymen's achievements and at the same time we should work towards the country's social and economic face-lift along with them and pray God that every one else is blessed with an equal opportunity to stay a decent life on earth.

    on Nov 22, 2009
  • lal tripathi

    These 10 richest people can shape India well. Need a focus only. They can make a cartel to improve the infrastructure.

    on Nov 21, 2009
  • Ajay Kumar Handa

    Isn't diversity a little too extreme in India ? There is definite connect between what happens on top to what happens at bottom. That only three Indians equal twenty four richest chinese in wealth is suggestive of more than one indicator. Power influences the Govt and in turn business. We are a bigger centric force influence than China when it comes to business. China has 3% of it's population below poverty line, we have 28%. China would have 92% of its children attend school for at least 9 years and hence the literacy is high, India would have literacy rate limping between 60 to 70%. It is interesting to note that India is fifth biggest in foreign reserves and so on. Yet it would take 30 years at current rate to wipe out unemployment, and many more to wipe out other lows and negatives in India. Wealth with few while majority starves looks ugly, not that those who rose to become rich practiced wrongs necessarily. Lopsided as it is, India needs to improve it's balance between socialism and capitalism Govt. Richest like Mukesh Ambani and the spiritual and intellectual leaders need to team up to find solution.

    on Nov 21, 2009
  • Prasad Satkalmi

    @ Swarup: Thanks for appreciating. But I never maintained about alms and all types of beggars and donations demanded. :) That is altogether different topic to be discussed and implemented some other day.

    on Nov 20, 2009
  • Swarup

    @prasad, your comment is excellent in ideal situation, but remember donation only make people poorer and less competitive. Remember these billionaires have given jobs to million Indians who in turn making financial transaction with billion population.

    on Nov 20, 2009
  • vinayak savant

    Where is Vijay mallays name...he is among top business in india..we all love him...

    on Nov 20, 2009
  • Rajesh Jayswal

    Great News! I thank all of them and the millions other who also are the part of their success. The development of India is surely due to their vision, planning and execution. I request all our politicians to form business friendly policies and try to take entrepreneur encouraging steps.

    on Nov 20, 2009
  • Paulson

    In India, most successful companies are owned by private sector whereas in China most of the biggest companies are owned by the government.

    on Nov 20, 2009
  • Prasad Satkalmi

    This is what a dualistic economy all about. Rich getting richer in India. Poor getting more poor. Total worth of top ten rich Indians comes to INR 7,288320000000.00. Now out of 52 Rich Indians, even last 4 from bottom donate their net worth, India will be left with no poor population.

    on Nov 20, 2009
  • Sahibraj Bajaj

    It is our pride that the persons like Mukesh, Anil Ambani, L.N Mittal and others are now richest billionaires of India and the world.

    on Nov 19, 2009

    We are more concern about rich and are proud of them but forgetting billions of starving poor. It is true in respect of government as well as citizens except those suffer.

    on Nov 19, 2009
  • Moses

    Other than drawing world's attention, this ain't going to do any good to our country. 52 folks owning 1/4th of the GDP only shows that growth is lopsided. Govt should seek to grow the median income of families and individuals.

    on Nov 19, 2009