Mukesh Ambani still India’s richest person, but wealth down 16.29%

Rising inflation and the decline in stock markets have made a big hole in the wealth of Indian billionaires. Mukesh Ambani has retained the top position for the fourth year in a row in the 2011 Forbes India Rich List, with a net worth of $22.6 billion this year, despite seeing a drop of $4.4 billion, or 16.29 per cent. Lakshmi Mittal who runs ArcelorMittal has remained at the No 2 position with a net worth of $19.2 billion, down 26 per cent from last year.

The biggest dollar loser was Anil Ambani, down $7.4 billion. He slipped out of the top 10 for the first time since his 2004 debut to No 13 this year. His net worth is estimated at $5.9 billion, down from $13.3 billion last year. According to the 2011 Forbes, inflation, corruption scandals and falling stock and currency prices are diminishing the wealth of India's richest. The combined wealth of India's 100 per cent richest people is down 20 per cent from a year ago to $241 billion. This year's list also has 57 billionaires in all, a dozen less than last year.

Third richest is Azim Premji, head of IT outsourcer Wipro, whose net worth of $13 billion is lower by 26 per cent from $17.6 billion last year. Premji donated $2 billion worth of shares last December to a trust to fund his education charity. "Shashi and Ravi Ruia of the Essar group are in the fourth slot with a net worth of $ 10.2 billion," Forbes said.

Naazneen Karmali, India Editor of Forbes Asia and Mumbai bureau manager of Forbes magazine, said: "This has been a turbulent year for India's richest. Despite the economy growing at close to 8 per cent, a spate of corruption scandals and rising inflation have taken a toll." There are 14 new faces on the list this year. The richest debutante is Ajay Kalsi, coming in at No 38 with a net worth of $1.39 billion. He is the founder and CEO of London-listed oil and gas outfit, Indus Gas, in which he has more than two-thirds stake.

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