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Lifestyles of the Indian Rich and Famous

March 2008
Lifestyles of the Indian Rich and Famous

India’s upper crust—a term that, incidentally, became the name of a high society magazine in Mumbai—is awash in wealth like never before. Not breaking news, of course, given the breathless media coverage. Last year, according to Credit Suisse, there were 120,000 Indian households with bankable assets exceeding a million dollars. It’s expected to rise to 300,000 households by 2012. That India now has the largest number of billionaires in Asia is ironic, some would say, because no other nation in the world has more people below the poverty line. Whatever one may think of the vast disparities in India, nobody can deny that the economy has galloped in recent years. Its GDP (gross domestic product), having grown at over 9 percent over the last three years, has hit the trillion-dollar mark.

As per Forbes magazine, here’s a breakdown of the number of billionaires in the top 12 nations: U.S. (415), Germany (55), Russia (53), India (40), Britain (29), Turkey (25), Japan (24), Canada (23), Taiwan (21), China (10), Brazil (20), Spain (20).

Life in the stratosphere of the super-rich is so different that, sometimes, even observers who’re normally blasé may do a double take at the excesses. Thefollowing examples would have won the admiration of maharajas from a bygone era. Mukesh Ambani’s new digs in Mumbai will have 27 stories, with six of them reserved as a parking garage for the family’s 170 imported cars. There will be three, not one, helipads, and a staff of 600 will cater to a family of six once the building is completed later this year. Ambani spent almost $60 million last year on an Airbus-319, which is a fully loaded home-on-wheels for jetting around the world. He bought it for his wife Nita, by the way, as a birthday gift. Lakshmi Mittal, the U.K.-based tycoon, flew in (and put up) more than 1000 guests to Paris when his daughter got married. There were 20-page wedding invitations, enclosed in silver boxes, and the five-day bash took place in various palaces, including Versailles and a makeshift castle. And the price tag? A cool $60 million. His lavishly appointed house in London has been dubbed, appropriately enough, the Taj Mittal.

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