With a population of over 1.2 billion people, India has the 10th largest economy in the world with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $2.1 trillion. It’s even been estimated by economists at CNNMoney that at the end of 2014, India will have risen to become the 9th largest economy. Some of the nation’s richest and most successful businesses can be attributed to the people on this list. These families made their fortunes from investments in various industries, including oil and gas, manufacturing, construction, and information technology. For some, their riches were self made. For others, they were fortunate enough to inherit family money and then create and invest in businesses.
India had problems earlier last year with high rates of inflation and the lowest valued currency in Asia, but by the end of 2013, the stock market was doing much better than analysts had anticipated. This year is set to be one of recovery and growth; and doubtless the economy will be helped along by India’s increasing business in exports to the United States and the United Arab Emirates. According to The Guardian, India’s top 5 export items are petroleum products, gems and jewellery, pharmaceutical products, transport equipment and machinery and instruments. All undeniably lucrative areas.
When it comes to business travel and tourism, too, India rivals some of the world’s best in the industry. In 2012, India became the 10th largest business travel market in the world. They managed to beat out Canada, to get a well deserved spot in the top 10. And there’s yet another significant boost for India’s travel industry; just last year, Indira Gandhi International Airport was voted the world’s second best airport for its size – in the 25-40 million passengers category – by the Airport Council International. If India continues with its current success this will be a very good year, indeed.
However, as with almost every country’s success story, there’s a down side to India’s thriving economy. That is, the increasingly distressing circumstances in which the poorest people in India are living – the tragic slums and the increasing wage gap between the very richest, like those featuring on our list, and the very poorest. Indeed, while the upper echelons of Indian society have baffling wealth, incredibly over 800 million people in the country are still living below the poverty line. It’s might also worth noting that in our top 10 below, there isn’t a single woman. So while some societal and economic problems still certainly exist in India, it’s undeniable that those industrious, business-minded people who thrive in this resource-rich land certainly do it big.
10. Sunil Mittal: $6.6 Billion
Entrepreneur Sunil Mittal was born into a political family – his father was a Member of Parliament from Punjab – and he grew up to study Arts and Science at Panjab University in the 1970s. Mittal later founded Bharti Airtel Limited, a telecommunications company that provides service for 275 million customers worldwide. Last June, the company sold just a 5% stake for $1.2 billion to the investment arm of the state-owned Qatar Foundation, according to Forbes. The company has encountered some legal issues over the past couple of years. Bharti Airtel was reportedly fined for allegedly using a 3G spectrum that they didn’t own; and there’s another case pending over use of an additional telecom spectrum. The company was partnered for six years with US retail giant Walmart, but has since severed their business relationship. It’s been suggested that there may have been some allegations of wrongdoing. Mr. Mittal is now focusing more on creating a new chain of grocery stores, which will be headed by his brother, Rajan Mittal.
9. Kumar Birla: $7.6 Billion
Kumar Birla, a scion of the well-known – and wealthy – Birla family, is the chairman of the Aditya Birla Group, which owns aluminum manufacturer Hindalco Industries. This is India’s second largest aluminum manufacturer, according to IBTimes. The country’s top manufactures of building cement, UltraTech, is also part of the Aditya Birla Group.
While business has been booming, last October there was an investigation involving Mr. Birla, during which he was named in a corruption scandal by the Central Bureau of Investigation. The scandal reportedly involved allocation of coal mines to his aluminium maker, Hindalco back in 2005. Mr. Birla denies the charges and has the full support of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The Prime Minister insists he gave approval for the allocation of the coal mines.
8. Adi Godrej and Family: $8.3 Billion
The Godrej Group is a consumer goods conglomerate headed by Adi Goodrej. The Godrej Group is a bit of a dynasty in India, as it’s been around for 116 years and continues to make billions of dollars in revenue. The consumer goods range from personal products to kitchen appliances. The group has also started a business in real estate, Godrej Properties, run by Adi’s son Pirojsha. This is expected to be a very profitable venture, and will likely add to the Godrej family’s huge wealth.
7. Shiv Nadar: $8.6 Billion
Shiv Nadar – interestingly, the son of the founder of the Dina Thanthi newspaper empire S.P. Adithanar and Adithanar’s sister – is the co-founder of the HCL Group, which led to the founding of HCL Technologies. The software business has been extremely profitable for Mr. Nadar and shares of his software company have recently increased considerably. Their client list is suitably impressive, and includes customers such as Boeing, Microsoft, Cisco and UBS. Although Mr. Nadar isn’t directly involved with the day-to-day activities of his business, he mainly focuses on the overall processes and procedures.
6. Hinduja Brothers: $9 Billion
The multinational conglomerate Hinduja Group is truly a family affair. Srichand, Gopichand, Prakash and Ashok are four brothers who are all equally in charge of this family business. According to Forbes, they are actively involved in 37 countries and their products range from lubricants to trucks. They also work to provide services, such as banking and healthcare. They own IndusInd Bank, which is one of the leading banks in India. They recently acquired the US lubricant company, Houghton International for $1 billion, a valuable addition to their Gulf Oil lubricant business. The brothers quite spent a lot of time in England’s capital city London, and purchased a six-story residence on Carlton House Terrace for $160 million – a residence which happens to be in close vicinity to Buckingham Palace.
5. Pallonji Mistry: $12.5 Billion
Although he now lives in Ireland with his Irish wife (where he sits at the top of the rich list) Pallonji Mistry started his business in India. It began with his construction business Shapoorji Pallonji, which is currently headed by his son Shapoor Mistry. Pallonji Mistry also owns a stake in Tata Sons Limited, which is a holding company for the Tata Group. His son Cyrus replaced Ratan Tata as chairman of the Tata Group in December 2012. The investment in the Tata Group has really paid off for this family, as Tata Consultancy Services is one of the world’s leaders in IT services firms, second only to IBM.
4. Azim Premji: $13.8 Billion
Azim Premji made his fortune though Wipro, which provides IT services and consulting. He’s noted as being India’s biggest tech tycoon and while he is an extremely successful businessman, he’s also a philanthropist. He’s been very generous with his earnings, and has given away shares worth $4.4 billion. According to Forbes, he’s also known as Asia’s most generous person. He’s also been quoted as saying, “philanthropy should be spontaneous not forced”.
3. Dilip Shanghvi: $13.9 Billion
Sun Pharmaceuticals is India’s most successful drugs company, which originally started out as a manufacturer of psychiatric drugs. This amazingly profitable business was founded by Dilip Shanghvi, who also runs the company. Sun Pharmaceuticals specializes in generic versions of such drugs as Johnson & Johnson’s cancer drug Doxil and Novo Nordisk’s anti-diabetic drug Prandin. There was a slight legal hiccup over the patent for Pfizer’s acid-reflux drug Protonix and although there was a $210 million loss over the settlement, Dilip Shanghvi managed to climb the list to be the third wealthiest man in India in 2013. Sun Pharmaceuticals has became a family business, since Shanghvi’s son Aalok took the lead position in international marketing for the company.
2. Lakshmi Mittal: $16 Billion
As founder and owner of the world’s biggest steel company AercelorMittal, Lakshmi Mittal is India’s second richest businessman. Though his company was plagued by serious financial debt, Lakshmi Mittal was able to sell a couple of his luxury houses on London’s Billionaires’ Row to make up for it and maintains his place as one of India’s richest me with a fortune of $16 billion in reported in 2013. According to IBTimes, he has been a UK resident since 2008.
1. Mukesh Ambani: $21 Billion
Mukesh Ambani not only holds the title of ‘India’s Richest Man’, but he also owns the world’s most expensive residence, according to Forbes. He has made his $21 billion dollar fortune from Reliance Industries, which is a petrochemicals conglomerate. He is now moving into the wireless telecommunications business, and is in the process of starting India’s first 4G wireless network. If this new project proves to be successful, it could keep Mr. Ambani firmly in the number one spot for the next couple of years.
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