India is Indeed Shining

rich.jpgWhen the much-awaited Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s richest people was released on March 6,  the global community was taken by surprise. Firstly, after a reign of thirteen years, Bill Gates was overtaken by Warren Buffet as the world’s richest man. Furthermore, India won the right to brag by having four of her own in the top-ten billionaire club. No other country can boast of this feat. Arcelor Mittal chairman Lakshmi Mittal (4th), Reliance Industries Ltd chairman Mukesh Ambani (5th), Reliance-ADAG chairman Anil Ambani (6th) and DLF Group chairman Kushal Pal Singh (8th) have made it to the list.

India has also been ranked fourth as it has a total of fifty-three billionaires in the world richie-rich club. The net worth of India’s billion boys is estimated at about $333.6 and is about 31% of our country’s GDP.

Lakshmi Mittal holds the top spot amongst the Indians and though he doesn’t live in the country, he still retains his Indian citizenship. His wealth is mainly from his 44% stake in the Arcelor-Mittal steel, which he built from scratch.

The next two positions are held by the Ambani brothers with just a gap of a billion between them. When the Ambani brothers were together, their net worth did not feature anywhere near the world top ten. However, after their separation, in their gusto to do better than the other, both of them are now constants in the top ten club.

A new entrant in the top ten was DLF head Kushal Pal Singh, who jumped ahead fifty ranks from last year to become the world’s richest real estate honcho.

All these facts and figures show that we on our way to become a developed nation soon, isn’t it? Everything is going great for India – be it cricket (Super Sunday) or our economy.

Celebration time isn’t it?

India shining?

In 2007, when India completed sixty years of being an Independent nation, the slogan (more like an ad jingle) of “Incredible India!” was splattered all over the Times Square in London.

Is India as incredible as the government wants us to believe or is it nothing but empty promises veiled in a beautiful package?

In the mid seventies, we had the “Garibi hatao” campaign and in 2004, we had “Aam aadmi“.

What was the result of all this?

Bordering on the risk of sounding like a communist, I say the rich just got richer and the poor became poorer.

Today, we are a country of 1.1 billion people (kudos to us, producing billions in more than one way). 70% of us still live on less than 2$ per day, 30% of these on just 1$ per day.

On one side, our billionaires are gifting jet planes to their spouses and on the other side, in the same State, farmers are still committing suicides due to poverty. On one side, Laksmi Mittal spends a billion on the wedding of his daughter (I am not denying him the right) and on the other side, the sex ratio in our country remains skewed. We have in our country, the world’s richest real estate honcho and we also house the world’s largest slum.

Warren Buffett, the world’s richest man, donated 85 per cent of his wealth to a charity : the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. I do not demand that our billionaires follow suit, but a step in the right direction will surely help. “Incredible India”? Sure it is.

Akanksha Bali

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