The billion dollar ladies club
From jet-setting in private aircrafts to vacationing on their own islands, the super-rich attract a lot of curiosity and fascination. There are many billionaire gentlemen among India’s rich and famous, but very few women. Here are India’s richest women who featured on last year’s Forbes list of 100 richest Indians. They might be as different from each other as chalk and cheese, but they are all women of substance and stand out not just for their wealth but also for their amazing personalities. The wealth part is no joke though. The four women have a collective wealth of nearly $ 10 billion. From a statistical perspective, the GDP of several small nations, like Monaco, is lower than this figure.
Savitri Jindal, Asia’s richest woman, grew up in Tinsukia, a small town near Guwahati. Married to the founder and chairperson of Jindal Group, O.P. Jindal, Savitri was happy being a homemaker devoted to bringing up her nine children. Following her husband’s death in 2005, she took over as the chairperson of the steel and power conglomerate. Jindal Group turnover has risen steadily under her leadership. Savitri dons several hats and served a stint as Cabinet Minister in the Haryana State Government. Her net worth is $ 3.9 billion.
Leena Gandhi Tewari is the chairperson of privately held company USV Pharma. USV Pharma started off as a small firm founded by her grandfather, Vithal Balkrishna Gandhi, a well-known social reformer and politician. The company used to import medicines and later branched off into manufacturing in a joint venture with an American company in the 1960s.
This billionaire lives in Mumbai with her husband and two children. She holds an MBA degree from Boston University. Being a nature lover, she loves travelling to forests all over country and studying about wildlife. She is, interestingly and rather curiously, fascinated with reptiles. Research on her family’s ancestral history is another passion and she has written a biography on her grandfather titled ‘Beyond Pipes & Dreams – The Life of Vithal Balkrishna Gandhi’.
Indu Jain of Bennett, Coleman & Co. has a net worth of $ 1.9 billion. She is the chairperson of one of India’s leading media house – The Times Group. She founded the Times Foundation, which initiates pioneering activities in the field of development. It is her dedication that has helped mobilise funds for the Times Relief Fund, which works towards disaster relief during natural calamities. Indu is also a strong advocate of women’s rights and encourages women entrepreneurs. She also heads the Bharatiya Jnanpith Trust, which gives out the prestigious literary award, the Jnanpith and through it supports literary endeavours in various Indian languages. Her address at the United Nations on the occasion of the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders in 2000 was appreciated as she spoke about the need for togetherness among faiths.
Vinod Gupta is the wife of the late Qimat Rai Gupta, and is one of India’s richest women after inheriting her husband’s shares in electrical fittings maker Havells India, though she doesn’t hold an executive or board position. Qimat Rai Gupta founded the company in 1971 and it is presently run by her son. Her son, Anil Rai Gupta, dedicated his book ‘Havells: the untold story of Qimat Rai Gupta’ to his mother stating – To my mother, Vinod Gupta, who was the real force behind my dad’s success and who emotionally moulded me.
These women prove that though the rich might enjoy a lot of frills, they do not lead frivolous lives and there is a consistent attempt by them to make a difference to the world around them. These admirable ladies seem to live up to the saying “The real measure of your wealth is how much you would be worth if you lost all your money.”