The Richest Men in India


Even though India has long figured among the so-called Third World economies, the fact that its rate of economic growth has remained one of the best in the world is borne out by the presence of 55 Indians on the 2012 Forbes list of global billionaires1. India thus ranks after United States, China and Russia for individuals with a total net worth of one billion dollars and above and it accounts for roughly 4.5% of the global total of 1,226 billionaires across the six continents. Here are some of the richest men in India who have made it all possible.

  1. Mukesh Ambani

    The nineteenth richest billionaire in the world and the wealthiest man in India is Reliance honcho Mukesh Ambani with a net worth of $22.3 billion. Ambani has managed the feat fifth straight year despite his fortune falling for third year in a row; his fortune dropped $1.6 billion in the past 12 months. Reliance Industries remains India's most valuable company despite ongoing battles with federal oil ministry over KG-D6, country's largest offshore gas field where output has sharply declined and which has been subject of scrutiny by a federal auditor. Recently Reliance was also in news for having funded the owners of Network18 Group, Forbes' licensee in India.

    The 55 year old billionaire lives in Mumbai with his wife and three children. Nita Ambani, his wife, oversees the charitable arm of the company, Reliance Foundation; she launched country's first Braille newspaper in Hindi in March 2012 and has pledged to donate her eyes upon her death.

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  2. Laxmi Mittal

    At twenty-first position among the world billionaires, steel magnate Laxmi Mittal has a net worth of $16 billion as of October 2012, according to Forbes. This is a sharp drop from March this year when his fortune stood at $20.7 billion. According to Forbes, Mittal’s fortune eroded by more than $3 billion in past year, $10 billion in two years as shares of his ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steelmaker, floundered due to surging costs and slumping demand in Europe. It has been selling non-core assets to reduce its $22 billion debt and shutting down idle plants; in May, it sold American unit Skyline Steel to Nucor for $605 million. In October it said it was closing two idle furnaces in France and two in Belgium. Even in his own country, Mittal has he's put plans to build two steel mills which have been stalled there for years, on low priority apparently out of frustration at the slow progress.

    The 62 year old billionaire is father of two children and has been a resident of London for many years now. Mittal and his son Aditya were the torch bearers for the 2012 Olympics Torch Relay. The 377-foot tall Mittal-funded ArcelorMittal Orbit, made largely out of recycled steel, is the U.K.'s tallest sculpture.
  3. Aziz Premji

    Infotech magnate Aziz Premji with a net worth of $15.9 billion is the third richest man in India and 41st wealthiest billionaire in the world according to Forbes 2012 List of World Billionaires. Premji is the owner of Wipro, one of the leading infotech companies in India. In recent times the company has been going through a plateau since shares of Wipro have remained virtually flat in what is seen as a difficult market for outsourcers as they scramble for new contracts. In fact an auction of Wipro's stock owned by his trust in March this year drew a tepid response, resulting in only half of the shares offered being sold.

    Aziz Premji is rare among India’s billionaires in his efforts to give back to the community. One of the country’s most generous philanthropists, Premji gave $2 billion in 2010 to his foundation to build a university among other initiatives and also co-hosted a philanthropy meeting in Bangalore with Bill Gates and Ratan Tata in June this year. The 67 year old billionaire is married and father of two children. He is a graduate of Stanford University and currently lives in Bangalore. His wife Yasmeen published her first novel in July 2012, Days of Gold & Sepia, believed to be based on the life of her late father-in-law.

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  4. Kumar Birla

    Following Savitri Jindal – matriarch of the vast Jindal steel and power empire with a fortune of $10.9 billion – is Kumar Birla with a net worth of $7.8 billion as of October 2012. Kumar Birla heads the Aditya Group which is worth $40 billion in terms of revenues but is looking ahead to target of $65 billion in revenues by 2015. The company is on a growth spree - In April, it inked a $150 million deal to buy 50% stake in Pantaloon, one of the largest retail chains in the country. In July, it acquired Canadian pulp mill Terrace Bay for $110 million and announced that it will be investing $250 million more. In move to expand mining interests, the Aditya Group has reportedly made an offer to acquire Australian miner Northern Iron. It is also believed to be negotiating to buy Jaiprakash Gaur's cement business in India. In his first foray into media, Kumar Birla picked up 27.5% in Living Media, which publishes high-circulation magazines India Today and Business Today.
  5. Sunil Mittal

    Next on the list of richest men in India is telecom honcho Sunil Mittal, owner of Bharti Airtel which has 260 million customers in 20 countries. He ranked as the fifth richest man in India as well as 113th among the world’s billionaires, according to Forbes March list of 2012 world billionaires. However as of October 2012 his net worth has come down to $5.9 billion. This is because Shares of Bharti Airtel tumbled in July when it reported a 37% fall in the most recent quarter's net profits to $144 million. The tumble eroded as much as $2.9 billion of Mittal's fortune. This was due to higher costs in domestic operations and rising losses in its African unit. However Sunil Mittal can look forward to a new rule allowing foreign investment in big-box retailing India that is likely to benefit his joint venture with Wal-Mart.

    The 55 year old billionaire is married and father of three children. His Bharti Foundation operates 254 schools that have 38,000 students mostly from poor communities.


  1. Forbes - The World's Billionaires – India