The truth about India's Billionaires

Few days back 'Forbes' came out with its annual list of the world's rich. Not surprisingly, 36 Indians made it to the list. They accounted for 21% of the country's GDP up from last years slice of 12%. Last year the list had only 23 Indians. Things will be said and written on this subject.

dollars.gif The Indian middle class assessment about this is that, India is growing rich, and they can too. Good intentions they may be, but how healthy these thoughts and aspirations are requires our attention. Seen in context, it look inspiring. For example, China with its double digit growth has only 20 and the economic powerhouse of Asia, Japan has 24 billionaires. In short, India is second only to the USA in the number of billionaires in the top 20.

Then there is this story in the Mint, which shows us the other side of India's rich. The richest Americans in the Forbes list, for example Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Lawrence Ellison, Sergey Brin or Larry Page are there on basis of their intellect. Bill Gates is the owner of Microsoft, Warren Buffett manages Berkshire Hathaway, Lawrence Ellison is the maverick owner of Oracle, Sergey Brin and Larry Page are the creators of Goggle.

Nine of the 10 richest Indians on the list have made their wealth from mining, metals, land or telecoms except for Aim Premji, the owner of Wipe. These nine richest Indians future incomes are natural resource dependent and as the article eloquently point 'where supply constraints are common'. Natural resource are bound by government regulation and only a handful can use them to their advantage. So, here lies the fallacy of the India's rich. The middle class Indian cannot control these scare natural resources and therefore the idea of enormous wealth will eternally elude them, though some enterprising individual may make it, albeit in the future.

One need not lose heart. India is migrating directly from an agrarian economy to the service economy, and as luck may have it, in the next few years you may find as many rich who derive their fortune from natural resources as there would be due to the use of intellect.

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