This story is part of Forbes’ coverage of India’s Richest 2021. See the full list here.
India’s recovery from a deadly second wave of Covid-19, which broke out earlier this year, restored investor confidence in the world’s sixth-largest economy. Scaling new peaks, the benchmark Sensex rose 52% from a year ago. As a result, the nation’s 100 richest have never been richer; they are collectively worth a record $775 billion after adding $257 billion—a 50% gain—in the past 12 months.
Close to a fifth of that additional wealth came from infrastructure tycoon Gautam Adani, who nearly tripled his fortune to $74.8 billion as shares of all his listed companies soared. At No. 2 for the third year in a row, the politically well-connected billionaire is fast closing the gap with Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest person since 2008. Ambani, who recently outlined plans to pivot into renewable energy with a $10 billion investment by his Reliance Industries, recorded a modest 4.5% rise in his wealth to $92.7 billion.
In this bumper year, more than 80% of the listees saw their fortunes rise, with 61 adding $1 billion or more. The country’s buoyant tech sector gave Shiv Nadar, founder of software giant HCL Technologies, a $10.6 billion boost; he remains at No. 3 with $31 billion. Retailing magnate Radhakishan Damani retained the fourth spot with his net worth nearly doubling to $29.4 billion as his supermarket chain Avenue Supermarts opened 22 new stores in the fiscal year ending March.
India has administered over 870 million Covid-19 vaccine shots to date, thanks in no small measure to Serum Institute of India, founded by vaccine billionaire Cyrus Poonawalla, who moves into the top five with a net worth of $19 billion. His privately held company makes Covishield under license from AstraZeneca and has other Covid-19 vaccines under development.
There are six new faces this year, half of them from the booming chemicals sector: Yogesh Kothari of Alkyl Amines Chemicals; Deepak Mehta of Deepak Nitrite; and Ashok Boob of Clean Science and Technology, which listed in July. The pandemic-induced surge in testing caused shares of diagnostics chain Dr Lal PathLabs to double in the past year, earning its executive chairman Arvind Lal a debut spot on the 100 richest.
The country’s IPO rush returned property magnate and politician Mangal Prabhat Lodha to the ranks, following the April listing of his Macrotech Developers. Among the four other returnees is Prathap Reddy, whose listed hospital chain Apollo Hospitals Enterprise has been testing and treating Covid-19 patients. With the cutoff for gaining entry to the list rising to $1.94 billion, eleven from last year dropped off.
Full Coverage of India’s Richest 2021:
Additional reporting by Megha Bahree and Anuradha Raghunathan.
This list was compiled using shareholding and financial information obtained from the families and individuals, stock exchanges, analysts and India’s regulatory agencies. The ranking lists family fortunes, including those shared among extended families such as the Bajaj and Godrej families. Public fortunes were calculated based on stock prices and exchange rates as of Sept. 17. Private companies were valued based on similar companies that are publicly traded. The list can also include foreign citizens with business, residential or other ties to the country, or citizens who don’t reside in the country but have significant business or other ties to the country. The editors reserve the right to amend any information or remove any listees in light of new information.