Forbes magazine just released its list of billionaires for 2008. Everyone is surprised by the news that Bill Gates is no longer the richest man: it is now Warren Buffett. Bill Gates has dropped to number three. Should we feel sorry for him? But what surprised me it that they are the only two Americans on top ten. Whereas there are four Indians on the top ten list:
- Lakshmi Mittal (ranks forth with $45)
- Mukesh Ambani (ranks fifth with $43 B)
- Anil Ambani (ranks sixth with $42 B)
- K.P. Singh (ranks eighth with $30 B)
The first three are well known names by now, they made enough headlines recently. The steel magnet Mittal made news with his takeover deals and lavish $78 million wedding for his daughter. If you have missed the Ambani brothers’ bickering, you still can recognize them by their family name. K.P. Singh, or K.P. as his friends call him, may be relatively unknown, until now.
Forbes listed 1,125 billionaires, 179 more than last year. Besides the surge on the top, the fraction on Indian billionaires has also increased. There are total of 53 Indians on the list. In total number of billionaires Indians will rank forth just after USA, Russia, and Germany.
This should be a news for celebration, but I am yet not sure how to process it. I cannot shake the other numbers: when it comes to GDP India ranks 12 far below China, the other country with billion populations. If you count per capita income we rank 118. As for human development index, which Indian economist Amartya Sen help formulate with others, we rank 128. If for a moment we forget about the numbers and just look at the conditions we see every day it is hard to fathom the connection between the two. We are surely the country of diversity, but this is mind boggling disparity.
No, I have nothing clever or funny to type now. Maybe when the I recover, I can laugh at it. What else can I do.