India spotlights 40 billionaires in pandemic-stricken 2020

Forty Indians entered the billionaires' club in the pandemic-stricken 2020 to take the number of those in the coveted list to 177 people, a report said Mukesh Ambani continued to be the wealthiest Indian with a net worth of USD 83 billion.

The head of Reliance Industries witnessed a 24% jump in fortunes and climbed up one spot to be the eighth richest globally, as per the Hurun Global Rich List.

Gautam Adani from Gujarat, who has had a spectacular rise in fortunes in the last few years, saw his wealth almost doubling to USD 32 billion in 2020 and climbed 20 places to be the 48th richest person globally and the second wealthiest Indian. His brother Vinod's wealth grew 128% to USD 9.8 billion. The report compiles individual or family wealth in the year to January 15. It can be noted that the Indian economy is set to contract by over 7% because of the impact of the pandemic, which had forced governments to go for lockdowns that had a debilitating impact on the poor.

The report comes at a time when concerns are being raised about a 'K-shaped' recovery being underway, where a select few prosper. Hurun India's Managing Director and Chief Researcher Anas Rahman Junaid said Indian wealth creation is dominated by cyclical or traditional industries compared to tech-driven wealth creation in the US and China. "When the tech-driven wealth creation reaches full potential, India could potentially beat USA in terms of the number of billionaires," he added.

 IT company HCL's Shiv Nadar was the third wealthiest Indian with a fortune of USD 27 billion while some peers in the tech industry dominated the list of fastest-growing wealth. Jay Chaudhry of software company Zcaler saw a 274% rise in net worth to USD 13 billion during the year while Byju Raveendran and family saw a 100% increase in its wealth to USD 2.8 billion, the report said.

 Diversified corporate house Mahindra Group's head Anand Mahindra and family also saw a 100% increase in wealth to USD 2.4 billion, it said. Among those who saw a decline in their net worth during the year was Acharya Balkrishna of Patanjali Ayurved at USD3.6 billion, down 32%.

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