India is a country with a relatively large GDP of over $1.87 trillion, but it’s also a nation of historically entrenched economic inequalities. There is a marked divide between a traditional, agricultural and rural labour force, and a metropolitan, industrial one. India’s economy has long been undergoing a process of globalization, with a largely English-speaking workforce and the emergence of world-scale Indian businesses. The wide-ranging benefits of an international economy, however, are still largely the privilege of the Indian elite.
The Indian business people making their way up in the world are those working in services, IT, pharmacology, industry, technology and oil. Services are the biggest source of economic growth, accounting for nearly two-thirds of India’s output, but comprising less than one-third of its labour force. India’s growth has accelerated since the early 1990s, averaging just below 7% each year since 1997.
In 2010, the Indian economy rebounded robustly from the global financial crisis thanks to strong domestic demand. However, India’s economic growth began slowing in 2011 after a slowdown in government spending and a decline in investment, caused by investor pessimism about the government’s commitment to further economic reforms. This past year has been particularly unproductive and India’s economy has been struggling. Despite a 12% rise of the stock market, the economy was hit by almost double-digit inflation and the rupee fell by 16%. Over the past year, the wealth of India’s 100 richest grew by a mere 3%.
The billionaires on this list, as per Bloomberg’s billionaire list, represent the successful few. All are involved in massive nationwide or international business endeavours. Around half of these leaders are first generation entrepreneurial billionaires whose businesses are actively helping to stimulate the national economy and create employment.
10. Gautam Adani – $7.3 billion
52 year-old Gautam Adani founded Adani Group in 1988 and is the biggest shareholder of Adani Enterprises. Adani Enterprises is a publicly traded business that has interests in coal mining, power and ports and trades in textiles, metals, energy and agricultural products. The company also manufactures cooking oil together with Wilmar, the world’s largest palm oil processor. With more than 33 years of business experience, Gautam Adani is an Indian entrepreneur who has led the Adani group from a modest background to create a $8 billion professionally managed empire in a relatively short period of time. Adani is interested in generating national wealth and development. He is acutely aware of India’s infrastructural needs and so focuses on developing ports, power plants, transmission lines and mining.
9. Savitri Jindal – $7.4 billion
Savitri Jindal is India’s richest woman and recently made her way onto the list of the 10 richest people in India. The 63 year old’s primary source of wealth is OP Jindal Group, a steel and power organisation established by her husband Om Prakash Jindal in 1952. He brought a huge amount of innovation and international attention to the Indian steel industry and today the business is an $18 billion conglomerate, as well as being one of India’s most dynamic businesses of the past thirty years. Jindal took over in 2005 after her husband died, becoming the non-executive chairperson of the group. The couple’s four sons took over the running of the enterprise. In 2010, scandals surrounding one of the sons posed threat to the Group and prompted a decline in profits, but Savitri has managed to preserve her place as India’s wealthiest woman. Jindal is also influential at a political level, occupying the position of minister for urban local bodies with the Haryana state Congress party.
8. Kumar Birla – $7.4 billion
Kumar Birla is the chairman of Aditya Birla Group, a conglomerate based in Mumbai that owns stakes in India’s second-largest aluminium manufacturer Hindalco Industries and is the the third largest business house in India. The group also holds stakes in Aditya Birla Nuvo which has interests in manufacturing and financial services. Birla is also the Chancellor of the Birla Institute of Technology & Science, and owns iron ore mining company Essel Mining. Despite being among the richest men in his country, Birla is reported to have said that he would rather invest in Brazil or Indonesia than in India.
7. Anil Ambani – $8.4 billion
Anil Ambani is an Indian business magnate and investor, chairman of Reliance Group. Reliance Group is a conglomerate based in Mumbai that controls 68 percent of the mobile phone operator Reliance Communications and 75 percent of Reliance Power, the electricity producer. The company’s entertainment division produces movies and television content, and has a stake in Steven Spielberg‘s DreamWorks Studios. Ambani co-produced Oscar-winning epic Lincoln and he is one of the biggest Bollywood film producers.
6. Shiv Nadar – $13.3 billion
Indian philanthropist Shiv Nadar has built his fortune in the IT software industry. Nadar founded IT hardware company HCL Infosystems in the mid-1970s , which he transformed into an IT Enterprise over the next three decades by constantly reinventing the company’s focus. He is the chairman of the enterprise and received the Padma Bhushan (an award for the third highest civilian, selected once a year by the Indian President) in 2008 for his contributions to the IT industry. Known for his philanthropy, Nadar created his own foundation, the Shiv Nadar Foundation, and has been contributing to the development of India’s educational system since the mid 1990s. He has donated over 10 percent of his wealth to philanthropic causes.
5. Azim Premji – $16.6 billion
Indian business tycoon Azim Premji is the chairman of Wipro Limited. He has led the Bangalore-based company through four decades of growth and diversification, establishing the multinational IT consulting and system integration service as one of the leading companies of the Indian the software industry. Wipro Limited is India’s third-biggest software exporter and Premji controls 56 percent of it. He also owns PremjiInvest, a private-equity fund which manages about $1 billion of his money, and an interest in JM Financial.
Premji has transferred over $4 billion worth of shares to his own foundation and is one of the most philanthropic Indian billionaires: He is the first Indian to join Warren Buffett and Bill Gates’ Giving Pledge initiative.
4. Lakshmi Mittal – $17.2 billion
Lakshmi Mittal is a steel magnate, chairman and CEO of ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaking company. Mittal owns 38% of ArcelorMittal which is based in Luxembourg, has operations in mining, energy and refining, and does business in 60 countries around the world. Based in London where he owns many properties, Mittal was the wealthiest man of Asian descent in Britain in 2007. He is a member of the board of directors of Goldman Sachs and of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company.
Mittal enjoys his luxuries: his daughter Vanisha’s wedding was the second most expensive in recorded history, lasting five days and including a dinner at Versailles. Mittal also has a 34 percent stake in the Queens Park Rangers soccer team and lives in a house with Turkish baths, decorated with marble taken from the same quarry that supplied the Taj Mahal.
3. Pallonji Mistry – $18 billion
84 year-old Pallonji Mistry is the largest shareholder in Tata Group, India’s largest private conglomerate, which he inherited from his father and of which his son Cyrus has been the chairman since 2012. Tata Group operates more than 100 companies, including a dozen of the country’s largest businesses. Mistry is chairman of the Shapoorji Pallonji Group, through which he owns Shapoorji Pallonji Construction Limited, Forbes Textiles and Eureka Forbes Limited. After marrying an Irish woman, he became Irish himself in 2003 as India does not allow dual citizenship. Mistry’s biography was published in 2008, written by Manoj Namburu and titled The Moguls of Real Estate.
2. Dilip Shanghvi – $19.6 billion
In 1983 Dilip Shanghvi, a commerce graduate from the University of Calcutta, founded Sun Pharmaceuticals with just five products and a team of two. Today, SP has over 14.000 employees and manufactures over 200 pharmaceutical ingredients, marketing them in 40 countries. Sun Pharmaceuticals is the biggest drugmaker in India by market value and the second-largest generic-medication production company in the world. Shangvi is the biggest shareholder in the company and is recognised as one of Asia’s top self-made millionaires. At the moment, Shanghvi has plans to invest in a 1.000-megawatt power plant in India.
1. Mukesh Ambani – $24.3 billion
Mukesh Ambani is the richest man in India and the second richest man in Asia. He has made his fortune as managing director, shareholder and chairman of Reliance Industries Limited. RIL is a holding company that deals with the oil and gas sectors, refining and petrochemicals. It is the second most valuable Indian company and Ambani holds a 41% stake in it. He also owns the nation’s biggest natural gas field. Currently, the billionaire is working on a project to build India’s first 4G wireless network in 700 cities.
Ambani is involved with many institutions: he has served on the board of directors of Bank of America Corporation and the international advisory board of the Council on Foreign Relations. He also used to serve as the Chairman of the Board of Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, which is one of the leading business schools in India. Ambani leads a luxurious life, living in a 27 storey home worth $1 billion with his family of six. He also owns the Mumbai Indians professional cricket team and is one of the richest sports owners in the world. However, despite flaunting his wealth, in 2009 Ambani took a 66 percent pay cut as an ‘example of moderation’.