The New Maharajas of India
India is a vibrant country, full of colors, with a checkered history, and its exotic vibe (and chaotic energy) adds to its excitement. With almost 1.4 billion citizens, it is also one of the most populated countries. And not only is it rich in culture, but it is "rich" in rich people too! India today is home to the 3rd highest number of billionaires in the world, after China and the USA.
Indian billionaires are not satisfied by being silent about their wealth. They are loud and proud about their net worth and can afford only the best that money can buy. Not just the best, but the most exclusive and state of the art and more!
It's ultraluxe for these ultra-rich Indians, and they are not shy or afraid to flaunt it. Every day is an endless parade of designer outfits, week-long extravagant Bollywood weddings, first-class travels, luxury sports cars and yachts, mansions and century-old palaces, servants and even solid gold iPhones! No expense is spared for these cashed-up billionaires.
It comes as no surprise, though, that bling is the thing for this new breed of the Indian elite. You can say that it's “in their DNA”, channeling India's Maharajas (or "Great Kings") who were larger than life, ruling their empire-states for hundreds of years in magnificent splendor, wealth and over the top luxury.
But who exactly are these modern-day maharajas? Why does India have so many of them? Even though over 60% of the population lives in abject poverty, still lacking electricity or running water.
The country's rapid economic growth over the last 25 years set the stage for a new super-rich class to emerge. India's billionaires are varied, with the majority already part of wealthy families. Evan Luthra, for example, is a 23-year-old millionaire who invests in the technology and software industries. He has a large social media following and loves luxury goods, travel and a wealthy lifestyle. His father, a textile magnate, gave him seed money to start.
Some of these billionaires are actual Maharajas or part of their extended family. Abhimanyu Alsisar, the nephew of the Maharaja of Jaipur, runs a chain of luxury hotels made from converted ancient palaces.
On the opposite end of the caste system is Kalpana Saroj. Despite all the prejudices of being a member of the untouchable class or lowest caste, she fought her way out of poverty and is now a real estate magnate. Because of her background, however, she does not flaunt her wealth and lives simply, often helping the less fortunate.
What is controversial, though, is that some of these billionaires are major tax evaders and are also guilty of money laundering. The best example would be Vijay Mallya, who liked to live large and even bought an F1 racing team, Force India. He is currently residing in the UK and denies any wrongdoing.
It is estimated that 20 new modern maharajas will join the ranks of India's billionaires next year. Hopefully, they will have the correct values - of honesty and generosity - in place.