A List of Sorts

Last week Forbes, a well known American business magazine released its twenty-second annual list of billionaires from all over the world. The list threw up quite a few surprises. Bill Gates, who had been reigning over the list for the past 13 years (!), finally ran out of luck. He has been displaced by Warren Buffet whose net worth jumped by $10 billion, to reach a record high of $62 billion! However, what has really caught everyone’s attention is the presence of 4 Indians in the top 10 billionaires on the list! The only other country who has more names in the top 10 is the United States.

The most notable thing here is that India was one of the poorest economies when it won its independence from Britain back in 1947. But just 60 years later, India’s steaming hot stock market and its unstoppable real estate market has helped it clench the top spot in Asia when it comes to billionaires.

One must notice that, apart from steel baron Lakshmi Mittal, the Ambani brothers, K P Singh, etc. there have been new comers from India in the Forbes hall of fame. What I found most fascinating was that none of them had entered by earning billions through conventional means like striking gold through investments or something like that.

Out of the 5 new comers, we have Kalanidhi Maran, who runs the regional broadcaster, Sun TV. Not far behind is Ramesh Chandra, who made a fortune by building middle-class housing and Jignesh Shah, who set up India’s largest commodities exchange. Also, we have tractor tycoon Keshub Mahindra and Infosys Technologies cofounder K. Dinesh, return to the list after having previously slipped off. I am sure that your chests are swelling with pride, and you must be dreaming about your millions (or billions!) already. If that was not enough to inspire you, read on.

This year, Forbes found 50 of its billionaires to be under 40 years of age! These achievers are not even 40 and they are already rubbing shoulders with the likes of Warren Buffet and Mexican telecom tycoon Carlos Slim Helú (who, by the way, is second on the list!). Some of them have earned these billions from scratch; like Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page; former Enron trader John Arnold, who now owns a hedge fund and India’s (yeah!) Sameer Gehlaut who started online brokerage, Indiabulls. Our very own, Mark Zuckerberg (I say “very own” because he is the founder of Facebook!) is only 23 and is already part of this list! He might just be the youngest self-made billionaire the world has ever seen. This almost makes me want to start my own social networking site!

And what is truly “cool” is that this year’s list has its first black African billionaires! South Africa’s Patrice Motsepe and Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote made their debut this year. This shows that, in the 21 Century, colour is no longer an issue as everyone means “business”. I personally feel that now nothing should hold the youth back. Not nationality, not age and definitely not colour! Today, it is all about nursing a dream and having the guts to go ahead with it, come what may. There is no limit to what one can imagine and can achieve. I am sure Mark Zuckerberg had not anticipated the overwhelming response to Facebook when he launched it!

In the near future, the Forbe’s list can have so many more Indians in it. But it is up to us, the youth to dream and deliver!

Anam Mittra