What, according to you, is the most universal measure of wealth? Do you think wealth should be measured by the financial assets a person has accumulated?
Or should we value experiences over material possessions?
Leaving the moral conundrums aside, I think financial measures of wealth are the easiest and the most common. Of course, one can never negate the value of experiences and emotions, but it is ridiculously difficult to find some measure of quantifying them.
In a country like India, there is no shortage of wealthy individuals. It is almost surprising when you compare the cumulative wealth of the richer sections of society with the glaring instances of poverty we all witness on a daily basis.
Then again, when has the universe ever been fair?
Without much further ado, let me come to the point of this article: the richest Indians.
I should probably tell you, there are well over a hundred billionaires in our humble country. I am not going to talk about them all though. I will tell you about five of the richest individuals that our country can boast of.
It should not come as a surprise to anyone that the list is topped by, the one and only, Mukesh Ambani. The chairman of Reliance Industries Limited has topped Forbes magazine’s list for the eleventh year in a row.
Would anyone care to venture a guess as to Ambani’s net worth?
He comes in at a whopping $47.3 billion. If that is not enough to drop a few jaws, Ambani’s net worth increased by $16.9 billion in the last year alone. This Midas reincarnate currently rings in at number 19 on the Forbes list of global millionaires. Ambani is currently the Richest Asian in the world.
In fact, Reliance Industries contributes almost 5% of the total tax revenue earned by the government of India.
Not too shabby for India, eh?
I’m sure you have all heard about the famous Ambani residence, Antilla. This monstrosity of a mansion is located on a prime piece of real estate in Southern Mumbai. The house boasts of 27 floors and a team of about 600 staff.
Oh. And the mansion is valued at jaw-dropping $1 billion, which makes it the most expensive residential property in the entire world.
Can you even imagine what that would be like?
I personally, would love to spend a weekend in this outrageous abode, wouldn’t you?
The second person on the list needs no introduction either.
Are you ready?
Second on the list comes Azim Premji. The chairman of Wipro has often been informally addressed as the “Czar of the Indian IT industry”. He is currently worth about $21 billion. Premji took over the family business after his father’s demise and later expanded into one of the biggest software companies in India. He is one of the most influential individuals in the world right now.
In fact, Azim Premji was attending university at Stanford, when his father met an untimely end. He had to drop out of college at the age of 21 to take over the company.
Impressive, isn’t it?
Premji is not just an ultra-rich business tycoon. The man is also a philanthropist. The Azim Premji Foundation and University are both committed to providing quality education to the underprivileged sections of society. In fact, in 2013, Premji signed The Giving Pledge and donated almost half his entire wealth to charity.
Among a plethora of awards and honours, Azim Premji was awarded the Padma Vibushan by former president Pratibha Patil in 2011.
Are you amazed yet?
“As you get bigger, you have to delegate. It’s also an excellent way to get staff involved in the company’s operations.” This is a very famous quote by the great man himself, and also one of the guiding philosophies followed by Wipro.
Let’s keep going, shall we?
Third place on the list is reserved for the steel tycoon, Lakshmi Mittal. The chairman and CEO of Arcelor Mittal is currently valued at about $18.5 billion. He ranks 62 on Forbes list of global millionaires. Mittal separated from his family business to start Mittal Steel, his own company. He merged with Arcelor in 2006 to create one of the biggest steel companies the world has ever seen.
Impressive though his current credentials are, Lakshmi Mittal has seen better days. In 2005, Mittal was the third richest man in the world. In 2011, his position slid down to sixth place. He is one of the most influential people in the world.
Do you want to hear a fun fact?
Mittal’s daughter, Vanisha, got married in 2004, in what has been recorded as the second most expensive weddings in history.
Vanisha Mittal’s wedding has gone down in history by sheer dint of its ostentatiousness.
Are you ready for the second fun fact?
Are you familiar with the English football team, Queens Park Rangers? Well, our very own Lakshmi Mittal holds an 11% stake in the team.
Interesting, isn’t it?
Coming in at fourth place on the list is the founder and chairman of HCL, Shiv Nadar. Currently, Nadar is valued at $14.6 billion. Globally, he ranks at number 98 according to Forbes.
Nadar comes from humble beginnings. In 1976, he founded HCL in a garage with the intention of building calculators and microprocessors. Today, HCL is the fourth largest software company in the country and employs more than 1, 24,000 people worldwide.
Nadar is one of India’s leading philanthropists and has made considerable efforts to promote quality education in India. He founded the SSN College of Engineering in Chennai in 1996. The Shiv Nadar Foundation has undertaken a number of additional initiatives to promote development of the Indian education system.
Amazing, isn’t it?
In fact, Nadar is a recipient of the prestigious Padma Bhushan, the third highest accolade awarded to civilians.
Let’s move on now, shall we?
Fifth place on the list is occupied by the founder of Sun Pharmaceuticals, Dilip Sanghvi. With a net worth of $12.8 billion, Sanghvi is ranked at 115 globally.
Like Shiv Nadar, Dilip Sanghvi too comes from humble beginnings. He started out by helping his father in his wholesale generic drugs business in Kolkata. During this time, Sanghvi had the bright idea of manufacturing his own drugs. In 1983, Sanghvi borrowed about $200 from his father to start his own company and make psychiatric drugs. And thus, Sun Pharmaceuticals was born.
Today, Sun Pharma is the most valuable pharmaceutical company in the country and one of the biggest in the world. In 2018, the company reported an annual revenue of $3.6 billion.
What do you think?
It is important to mention that this is not an exhaustive list of rich or influential people in India. In fact, India is somewhat of a goldmine when it comes to churning out people who have made a difference in the world.
This list and this article is simply an homage to five of the richest individuals in the country. However even this list is just the tip of the iceberg.
I mean, the aforementioned individuals are influential for a reason. Their lives and their steady rise through the strata of society and intellectuals is truly awe-inspiring.
But don’t take my word for it.
Read up and delve deeper into the biographies and guiding philosophies of the people that catch your eye.
Happy reading and happy investing!