Six Indians, led by Sunil B Mittal of Bharti group and Ramesh Chandra of Unitech, are among 20 self-made billionaires of Asia featured by Forbes magazine. The list also includes a Malaysian-Indian, Anand Krishnan.
Mittal is ranked third with a personal fortune worth $12.5 billion, followed by Chandra (4th, $11.6 billion) and Tulsi Tanti of Suzlon (5th, $10 billion).
The other Indians are Gautam Adani of the now-diversified Adani Group (10th, $6.7 billion), G.M. Rao of infrastructure major GMR Group ($6.2 billion, 13th, and Uday Kotak of Kotak financial services group (20th, $4.6 billion).
Anand Krishnan of Malaysia, who is ranked sixth with a personal fortune of $7.4 billion, runs his country's largest mobile phone network, and also has a joint venture with the Chennai-based Sun TV group for satellite television.
Forbes says Sunil Mittal started his business in 1976 with just $1,500 borrowed from his father. "Later he co-founded Bharti with two brothers. Now their Bharti Airtel is nation's largest mobile-phone operator with over 50 million customers."
"When Indian billionaire GM Rao flunked the 10th grade, his father urged him to drop out and work with him. But Rao persuaded the village doctor, a family friend, to lean on his father to let him return to school," Forbes says.
The magazine further says Rao was the first from his family to go school, joined the family's commodities business and then diversified into sugar, alloys and breweries, which had to close shop due to prohibition.
"Since then he has won bids to modernize airports at Hyderabad and Delhi. In July, he won a $2.7 billion contract to build a new airport terminal in Istanbul in a consortium with Malaysia Airports."
Ramesh Chandra, who is the son of a banker, studied structural engineering in Britain and later moved in to residential real estate, building middle-income housing in southern and eastern India.
The magazine says his flagship Unitech is now run by his two sons and expanding from residential development into theme parks and shopping malls.
Tanti has been described as a self-made billionaire who started as a textiles trader and turned to alternative energy when escalating power costs threatened to put him out of business.
"With three brothers, he started a wind power venture in 1995. Now, his Suzlon Energy is the largest wind power company by market-cap in the world."
Adani, Forbes says, dropped out of college and started his enterprise in the 1980s, importing scarce plastic polymers. "He took company public in 1994; moved into ports, call centers, edible oils."
Kotak, an ardent cricket fan who played for his college, spurred his family's trading business to start finance firm. He then converted the finance firm into a bank and his stocks are soaring since buying out Goldman Sachs last year.