NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 21, 2008

India dominated the 2008 Forbes annual list of global billionaires, with four of the top eight -- more even than the United States, notes Investor's Business Daily (IBD).

Although the Indian billionaires on the Forbes list made headlines around the world, the massive accumulation of wealth was not universally accepted as good news in India, where the average income is only $80 a month, says Mark Perry, a professor of finance, and Madhukar Angur, a professor of marketing, at the University of Michigan - Flint.

Before Indian billionaires are dismissed too quickly as 21st-century robber barons, there are important reasons why India should celebrate them, says IBD.

It should be recognized that in the process of creating personal fortunes, India's billionaires create vast amounts of wealth for others, including thousands of employees:

  • It is estimated that India's top 10 billionaires collectively have created more than 1 million jobs in their companies.
  • In almost all cases, billionaires amass personal wealth by creating large organizations that generate millions of jobs and employment opportunities across the board, from the lowest unskilled positions to highly paid executives.
  • Further, many of the employees now at senior levels of organizations founded or run by billionaires started out their careers in very low or entry-level positions and worked their way up to upper-management levels.

Also, most Indian billionaires have gotten rich by targeting affordable products toward the lower and middle classes.  For instance, look at the various Reliance companies founded and run by the Ambani family.  From retailing to consumer electronics to telecommunications to retail brokerages to garments and groceries, Reliance companies have been successful and profitable by bringing low-cost, affordable products and services to the masses, says IBD.

Source: Mark J. Perry and Madhukar Angur, "India's New Class Of Billionaires Are Builders, Not 'Robber Barons,'" Investors Business Daily, April 16, 2008.


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