Forbes released its annual list of 100 richest Indians, which shows that India’s richest have become wealthier despite the COVID-19 pandemic. While we are battling through the second year of the pandemic, India’s richest have seen an increase in their total wealth by 50 percent.
While some of the billionaires have retained their spots, others have now placed themselves at higher positions on the list, as compared to the previous year. According to Forbes India, “India’s 100 richest are now worth $775 billion.”
For the 14th consecutive year, Mukesh Ambani continues to be India’s richest person. While the exhaustive list includes renowned business families like the Godrej family, the Bajaj family and the Hinduja brothers, check the list of top 10 richest Indians of 2021 from the Forbes’ list.
Mukesh Ambani – US$ 92.7 billion
Company: Reliance Industries
In 1957, Mukesh Ambani’s father — the late Dhirubhai Ambani — started a journey that would create history and take the world of business by storm. Under the aegis of Mukesh Ambani, Reliance Industries Limited has gone from strength to strength to become a force to reckon with.
The multinational conglomerate has spread its branches to diverse sectors like petrochemicals, oil and gas, telecom and retail. The richest Indian family lives in opulence too. The Ambani’s occupy one of the most expensive homes in the world named Antilia, which is a 27-storey mansion.
Ambani has been consistently topping the richest Indians list since 2008. The business tycoon has added US$ 4 billion to his fortune since 2020. He recently shed light on his plans to invest US$ 10 billion in renewable energy.
Gautam Adani – US$ 74.8 billion
Company: Adani Ports & SEZ
Maintaining his position as the second richest Indian is Gautam Adani, who started by establishing a commodities export firm in 1988. The infrastructure tycoon amassed wealth in 2020 when the share prices of his listed companies rocketed — it tripled his fortunes from US$ 25.2 billion to an impressive US$ 74.8 billion. The Adani Group is surely on a roll and is one of the biggest gainers.
Adani controls India’s largest port, called the Mundra Port, in Gujarat. The Adani Group’s diverse interests include infrastructure, commodities, power generation and transmission and real estate. In September 2020, he acquired a 74 percent stake in Mumbai International Airport.
Shiv Nadar – US$ 31 billion
Company: HCL Technologies
Who knew a company that started in a garage would become one of the largest software services providers in India — HCL Technologies. Co-founded by Shiv Nadar in 1976, he passed on the baton to his daughter Roshni Nadar Malhotra in 2020, who has been the chairman emeritus since then.
The HCL Technologies’ honcho, Shiv Nadar, retained his top spot as he dabbled in the country’s buoyant tech sector. Known for his philanthropic efforts, India’s third richest man has donated US$ 662 million to the Shiv Nadar Foundation, which is “committed to the creation of a more equitable, merit-based society by empowering individuals through transformational education to bridge the socio-economic divide”.
Radhakishan Damani – US$ 29.4 billion
Company: Avenue Supermarts
On the fourth spot is Radhakishan Damani, who got into the retailing sector in 2002 with only one store in suburban Mumbai. Today, he owns 214 DMart stores across the country, and his supermarket chain went public in 2017, which led to Damani becoming the country’s retail king.
Apart from being a trailblazer in the retail sector, he has investments in various companies like the tobacco firm, VST Industries, and India Cements. He also owns the Radisson Blu Resort & Spa, Alibaug.
Having opened 22 new stores in the previous fiscal year, Damani’s income grew two-fold from US$ 15.4 to US$ 29.4.
Cyrus Poonawala – US$ 19 billion
Company: Serum Institute of India
It was in 1966 that Cyrus Poonawalla founded the Serum Institute of India (SII) — the company which has given people in India hope amid a global pandemic. Under the guidance of his son and SII’s CEO Adar Poonawalla, the company is building a new factory that aims to increase the production of COVID-19 vaccines. A whopping US$ 800 million has already been invested for the same.
Although the company’s impressive portfolio boasts COVID vaccine partnerships, SII is best-known for Covishield. It is responsible for the distribution of the vaccine, which was developed by pharmaceutical and biotechnology company, AstraZeneca, and Oxford University.
The company, which is the world’s largest vaccine maker (by doses), produces 1.5 billion doses of vaccines every year to prevent diseases like measles, polio and flu, according to Forbes.
Earlier this year, Adar Poonawalla acquired a 60 percent stake at US$ 475 million in finance firm Magma Fincorp. The firm was renamed Poonawalla Fincorp after acquisition.
Lakshmi Mittal – US$ 18.8 billion
This year proved to be lucky for Arcelor Mittal chairman, Lakshmi Mittal, as he moved up four positions to become the sixth richest person in India.
Belonging to a family of steelmakers, he parted ways with the business and started Mittal Steel. In 2006, he merged with France’s Arcelor. ArcelorMittal went on to become the world’s largest steel and mining company (by output).
In the eventful year of 2019, Arcelor and Nippon Steel acquired Essar Steel at US$ 5.9 billion.
Earlier this year, he stepped down as CEO to make way for his son, Aditya, but the former retains his executive chairman position.
He owns a property in the national capital’s high-profile Lutyens Delhi. He also owns three properties in London, UK, one of which is a mansion in Kensington Palace Gardens but it was put up for sale in 2013.
Savitri Jindal – US$ 18 billion
Company: O.P. Jindal Group
Savitri Jindal’s fortune skyrocketed last year from US$ 6.6 billion and landed her a spot among the top 10 richest Indians for the very first time.
It was her husband, Om Prakash Jindal, who started this journey in 1952. Back then, he set out with a single-unit steel plant. But things changed in 1964 when a pipe unit, Jindal India, came into existence and the rest is history.
After O.P. Jindal died in 2005, his companies were distributed amongst his sons and are now run independently by them. Although a major chunk of the business is handled by Sajjan Jindal, who also founded JSW Steel, the conglomerate is chaired by Savitri Jindal.
Uday Kotak – US$ 16.5 billion
Company: Kotak Mahindra Bank
In 1985, Uday Kotak launched a finance firm only to turn it into a bank in 2003. Hereon, he charted his path to become one of the country’s richest bankers.
What cemented Kotak Mahindra Bank’s position as one of the top four banks in the private sector was the 2014 accession of ING Bank’s Indian operations.
Following the Reserve Bank of India’s guidelines, Kotak sold shares worth US$ 950 million in 2020 to bring the stake down to 26 percent.
His portfolio is further strengthened by tie-ups with Goldman Sachs and Old Mutual.
Pallonji Mistry – US$ 16.4 billion
Company: Shapoorji Pallonji Group
Adding US$ 5 billion to his wealth, Pallonji Mistry sits on the ninth spot of the richest Indians list.
Founded in 1865, Shapoorji Pallonji Group has played an important role in beautifying Mumbai — they are the makers behind some of the city’s regal landmarks, which also includes the Reserves Bank of India.
The group has a diverse repertoire, which includes water purifier brand Eureka Forbes and Next Gen Publishing.
The company’s tiff with Tata Sons made headlines when Pallonji Mistry’s son Cyrus was ousted from Tata Sons in 2016. He had served as the executive chairman for the multinational conglomerate.
The Shapoorji Pallonji Group has an 18.4 percent stake in Tata Sons, which they decided to sell last year and part ways with Tata Sons.
According to the latest reports, the company is not rushing to sell its stake. As per Economic Times, “The SP Group is now in no hurry to sell its 18.4% stake in the Tata group holding company, having gained a breather of two years following the KV Kamath Committee’s approval for a one-time restructuring exercise to strengthen its balance sheet and reduce debt by monetising assets. Tata Sons too is unlikely to make any proposal to buy the stake and will focus on internal group requirements for future growth plans.”
Kumar Birla – US$ 15.8 billion
Company: Aditya Birla Group
Increasing his net worth by US$ 7.3 billion and moving up four spots is Aditya Birla Group’s head Kumar Birla.
Birla was all of 28 when he inherited the family business after his father’s demise in 1995.
The Aditya Birla Group, which was founded by his great-grandfather, has since diversified into cement, aluminium, telecom and financial services.
In 2019, the European Commission cleared his manufacturing company Novelis’s US$ 2.6 billion acquisition of Ohio’s aluminium producer Aleris.
Birla resigned as the chairman of the debt-ridden telecom firm, Vodafone Idea, in August 2021. The company was formed in 2018 when Idea Cellular and Vodafone India joined hands.
Click here to view the complete Forbes India Rich List 2021.