There are a few reasons why we like to spend a good part of our time tracking wealth. One, because wealth is created on the back of ideas that shape the world we live in. And two, because there are people, real people, that create wealth. Without doubt, their stories of outstanding entrepreneurship hold lessons that hold the potential to make all of us richer, not just in a material sense. So what are the big ideas and people that this edition of the rich list has thrown up?
Talking of ideas, we’ve known this for a while now, but here is the cold, unflinching evidence. Our pages show how the centre of gravity is shifting to emerging economies in Asia from the traditional bastions of America and Europe. How else do you explain the fact that China (including Hong Kong), India and South Korea have twice the number of billionaires as compared to last year? All of Asia put together added 104 new people to the list — including the first billionaire from Pakistan. This shift is superbly captured on a map on pages 52 and 53 that articulates in great detail how wealth is moving from one part of the world to another.
As for the people behind these fortunes, there are some outstanding features to keep you spellbound. Get insights into how some of the most interesting characters that populate our world think, work and live.
Don’t miss the one on Eike Batista. His is a tale of gumption and spunk. I can’t think of anybody else who tries his hand in gold trading at the Amazon, makes $6 million in 18 months, practically blows it all up in what seems like a hare-brained venture and goes on from there to become the richest man in Brazil.
Then there’s the Uzbekistan-born Alisher Usmanov who, believe it or not, made his fortune making plastic bags in the former Soviet Union. From there, he’s gone on to become one of Russia’s biggest steel makers and now claims to be the largest online player in the country.
Closer home, there is Azim Premji of Wipro. Sure, we all know he is one of the richest men in the country. We’ve also read much of his unconventional ways. But did you know his is one of the few companies in the world, and the only one in India that has two CEOs running the business? When he first mooted the plan, it was written off as a misadventure. Clearly, he’s having the last laugh.
(This story appears in the 02 April, 2010 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)