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India's Super Wealthy Become Wealthier Due to Stock Market Rally


India's super-rich now make up one of the wealthiest groups in Asia. Anjana Pasricha reports from New Delhi on how a growing economy and booming stock markets continue to produce great wealth - for a very few.

Forbes Magazine says India's billionaires constitute one of the wealthiest groups in Asia. Their collective net worth has surged to $351 billion - nearly double that of last year.

Forbes lists 54 U.S. dollar billionaires in India. That is the second highest number in Asia after China, which now has the second highest number in the world, after the United States. According to Forbes, China has 66 billionaires, while the Hurun Report, a respected chronicler of such things, puts the number in China at more than 100.

India has moved past Japan, which for nearly two decades had boasted the largest number of billionaires in Asia.

Anjan Roy, an economist with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, says individual wealth in India is rising rapidly because the country's economic growth is driven largely by the private sector and many of the top private Indian companies are family-owned businesses.

"Many of these companies are owned by individuals, not corporations, and they are prominent shareholders, fully owned or private limited companies. So these people are getting enriched very fast," said Roy.

The owners of these companies are becoming richer largely due to a record stock market rally that has seen Mumbai's Sensex rise by 44 percent this year.

For example, the net worth of India's second richest man, Mukesh Ambani increased by two and a half times as share prices of his Reliance Industries more than doubled in the past year.

The Indian currency's sharp 12 percent appreciation against the dollar has also helped increase individual fortunes in dollar terms.

China's billionaires, likewise, have gained their wealth largely through rising stock market and real estate valuations.

The Indian list of billionaires also includes a new name: Kushal pal Singh. Forbes says he has become the world's richest real estate developer after he listed his company, DLF Ltd.

And from all accounts, the super-wealthy are learning to spend their money. Newspapers have carried reports of dream mansions being planned, and luxury private jets being snapped up by the billionaires.

Their wealth is in stark contrast to the poverty in the rest of the country. Four hundred million Indians, almost 40 percent of the population, still live on less than a dollar a day.

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