India’s billionaires double

India’s billionaires double

India’s richest have reason to celebrate 2009. That’s because they grew richer in the course of the year (net worths have been compiled based on stock prices and exchange rates as on 16 October), unlike 2008, when they grew poorer.

Much of this can be attributed to the rebound in the economy and the sharper recovery of the stock markets.

Click here to view a slideshow of India’s ten richest people

According to the annual rich list of Indians by ‘Forbes’ magazine, Reliance Industries head Mukesh Ambani, who took over from steel baron Lakshmi Mittal as the wealthiest Indian in 2008 has maintained his position this year with a net worth of $32 billion (around Rs1.48 trillion). Mittal comes second. And Mukesh’s estranged younger brother Anil, third.

Also See The Other Billionaires ( Graphics)

The combined net worth of India’s 100 richest people is $276 billion, or a little over 25% of the country’s GDP, although the two numbers aren’t comparable at all (still, it has become the norm to express all numbers, even that cannot be, as a proportion of the GDP). Last year ‘Forbes Asia’ had estimated the total networth of 40 richest Indians at $139 billion, 60 % down from 2007 estimates.

That we have a list of 100 this year compared to last year’s 40, is because we have a local edition of ‘Forbes’ now, ‘Forbes India’.“Last year there was a huge plunge in the combined and individual net worth of the richest people in India. But this year they have regained and the recovery has been faster as compared to their counterparts in rest of the world," ‘Forbes India’ editor Indrajit Gupta told Mint.

Interestingly, India has 52 billionaires this year, up from 27 last year and only two less than the 54 it had in 2007, the peak of the economic and stock market boom. “We are very close to the all time high that was seen in 2007. Going ahead, if the growth momentum continues, next year could be better," added Gupta.

The ‘Forbes’ list also highlights some 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. The top 24 Chinese billionaires are worth $80 billion. This is clearly one area where India is ahead of China.



A major difference between the methodology that Forbes’ global billionaires ranking follows and the Indian rich list, is that, in India, people’s family fortunes have also been taken into consideration. However, the net worths of individuals are compiled using stock prices and exchange rates as on 16 October. Their privately held fortunes were valued at book value or by coupling estimates of revenues, profits or book value to prevailing ratios for similar public companies. For compiling the rankings, Forbes’ reporters interviewed the people who were on the list, employees of their companies, rivals, investors, fund managers, real estate agents and securities analysts. They also looked at documents and databases to determine value and ownership of assets. Indian citizenship was required to make it to the list.

Compiled by Vijaya Rathore

Graphics by Sandeep Bhatnagar