Times are changing in India. The rise of new industries in healthcare, technology, and retail is creating a new class of billionaires. Now, for the first time, self-made billionaires outnumber billionaires who inherited their fortunes. Despite the country suffering an economic setback due to the global pandemic, self-made billionaires are thriving. Two of them, Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani, have seen their net worths surge since March, thanks to new deals they entered into. Over the past 20 years, the clout of old-school billionaires has declined as the number of billionaires in India has multiplied. In 2000, 61% of the combined net worth of India's billionaires was in the hands of just three people. In 2020, those three billionaires – Mukesh Ambani, Radhakishan Damani, and Shiv Nadar – represent just 20% of the combined net worth of Indian billionaires.
The combined net worth of India's self-made billionaires represents just over 50% of the country's 102 billionaires. Technology, of course, is one of the sectors that has created many of not just India's, but the world's self-made billionaires in recent years. Four new-ish Indian billionaires from this sector include Flipkart founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, online tutoring company Byju's founder Byju Raveendran, and e-commerce and fintech company Paytm's founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma.
India's traditional industrial sectors of manufacturing, construction, mining, and energy have dropped off – in terms of the number of billionaires – since 2010. Those sectors represent just 33% of India's billionaires, compared to 57% a decade ago. Over that same time period, a number of construction tycoons have fallen off the billionaires' list due to a slowdown in that sector. G.M. Rao, Vinod Goenka, and Rakesh Wadhawan are three former construction billionaires who've lost their billionaire status. Anil Ambani is another former billionaire plagued by business problems who is no longer a billionaire.
The typical Indian billionaire is a man over 60; only 6% of Indian billionaires are women (which is exactly half the global rate of 12%); only 5% of Indian billionaires are younger than 45; three in four are senior citizens. The median age of self-made billionaires in India is 65, compared to 69, for those who inherited their wealth. This shift in India's billionaires – the rise of self-made billionaires specifically – reveals that the economy has become more diverse and dynamic over the past 20 years.