There has been some turbulence in the List this year. But the smart entrepreneurs are raking it in
Reflecting the global turmoil, the fortunes of a majority of the richest Indians fell this year. Even then, 15 individuals managed to break into his exclusive club.
Oh, the ways of wealth! After two years of unprecedented richness, the 100 richest people in India have turned poorer in 2011. With the volatile Sensex losing more than 20% since we last compiled the list, India’s wealthiest saw their total fortune come down by USD 59 billion to USD 241 billion, the lowest in three years.
On the global map of the richest too, the Indian billionaires saw their hold slipping. If two Indians, Mukesh Ambani and Lakshmi Mittal, would have found themselves in the 2010 list of richest Americans, this year only Ambani, India’s richest at USD 22.6 billion, would manage to squeeze in among the coveted top 10. This year we have 57 billionaires among the 100 richest Indians, down from an all-time high of 69 last year.
But here is some good news. We still have more billionaires than we did in 2009, when there were 52. And among BRIC countries, the total worth of the top 20 Indian billionaires, at USD 156.6 billion, is more than their counterparts in China (USD 103.73 billion) and Brazil (USD 115 billion). Indian entrepreneurs though still need to catch up with the Russians, whose 20 richest have amassed wealth of USD 258.4 billion.
The volatility in markets back home has created quite an upheaval in the list. For the first time in three years, the top 10 cart has been disturbed.
Pallonji Mistry, at no 9, and Adi Godrej, a rank below at 10, come in place of K.P. Singh and Anil Ambani, who have been relegated to the 12th and 13th positions respectively. And only two billionaires from this exclusive list of 10 created more wealth than they did last year: Sunil Mittal, whose Airtel took the brave decision to hike call rates amidst mindless competition, and Mistry, who has a clean balance sheet in a market place where every other realtor is holding on to huge debts.
Overall, only 19 of India’s frontline entrepreneurs increased their wealth. Fifteen from last year’s list failed to make it, including Shahid Balwa (DB Corp), Shantanu Prakash (Educomp) and Jignesh Shah (MCX). There are two stars among the 15 new wealth creators. The reclusive London-based billionaire Ajay Kalsi debuts at a high no. 38 and the master flight operator Rahul Bhatia at no. 51. The learning from the 2011 Forbes India Rich List? Smart entrepreneurs make hay even when there is no sun.