India’s billionaire count at all-time high; combined wealth of 90 tycoons near fifth of country’s GDP  |  Photo Credit: Thinkstock
The annus horribilis 2020 was like no other because of Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant technical recession in the economy. However, stock markets remained unfazed during the period and fate smiled upon the super-rich.
According to a Business Standard report, India’s billionaire count reached an all-time high in 2020 owing to the stock market rally during the year. India’s super-rich club, in dollar terms, grew to 90 this year from 80 at the end of 2019.
The combined wealth of these 90 tycoons stood at $483 billion or Rs 35,57,900 crore (at current USD-INR rates), registering a spike of 33% in 2020 from $364 billion recorded at the end of 2019. In contrast, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects India’s economy to decline by 9.6% in the financial year 2020-21 (FY21).
To put things in perspective, the wealth of these 90 super-rich individuals is equivalent to nearly a fifth of India’s gross domestic product (GDP).
OECD defines GDP as the standard measure of the value-added created through the production of goods and services in a country during a certain period. As such, it also measures the income earned from that production or the total amount spent on final goods and services (less imports). In other words, GDP is the sum total of all income in an economy, including profits and individual incomes and profits.
On top of the rich list is Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) Chairman & Managing Director (CMD), Mukesh Ambani. His wealth grew by 47% in 2019 whereas in 2020 it went up by 37.2% to reach a mind-numbing $87.5 billion or Rs 6.44 lakh crore. The RIL CMD added $21.5 billion to his net worth in 2020, which translates to Rs 480 crore per day.
In terms of the highest percentage rise, Gautam Adani of Adani Group topped the charts with a 100% increase in his wealth from $21 billion in 2019 to $40 billion this year.
As businesses and jobs moved online, technology emerged as the key driver of the growth engine and also for those who owned software firms. The wealth of Azim Premji of Wipro, HCL Technologies’ Shiv Nadar, and Infosys founders grew in the range of 55-67% during the period.
Other winners of the stock market rally during the year were promoters of Asian Paints, up 48%, Radhakishan Damani of Avenue Supermart, up 41%, Dilip Sanghvi of Sun Pharma, up 36%, and Bharti Airtel’s Sunil Mittal, up 21%.
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