There were 22 more billionaires at the end of 2002 in Business Standard's Billionaire Club, the only authoritative listing of India's billionaires.
According to the list, compiled by the Business Standard Research Bureau, the number of billionaires grew from 88 in 2001 to 110 at the end of 2002.
But despite the increase in numbers, the aggregate wealth of these 110 billionaires is Rs 2,000 crore (Rs 20 billion) less at the end of 2002 than at the end of the previous year.
Not surprisingly, Azim Premji, the Wipro founder chairman, continues to occupy the top position in the ranking for the fourth consecutive year.
This is despite a loss of Rs 1,70,000 crore (Rs 1,700 billion) in his net worth from the peak level of Rs 2,00,000 crore (Rs 2,000 billion) on February 12, 2000.
Premji is still sitting on a personal net worth of Rs 31,412 crore (Rs 314.12 billion) -- at the end of December 2002, though he is relatively poorer than he was in the previous year.
On December 21, 2001, Premji was worth Rs 32,202 crore (Rs 322.02 billion). Richer or poorer, the most outstanding feature of Premji's wealth is that he is still worth almost the same as the combined net worth of the bottom 95 billionaires in the list.
The second spot in the listings is taken by Mukesh and Anil Ambani.
The merger of Reliance Petroleum with Reliance Industries has eaten into the promoter family's net worth. Ambanis' net worth declined by almost Rs 1,000 crore (Rs 10 billion) this year to Rs 18,863 crore (Rs 188.63 billion).
At the third spot are the founders of HCL Technologies: Shiv Nadar, Vijay Thadani and Rajendra Pawar.
The trickle down effect of the IT sector's misfortunes saw their net worth evaporate by Rs 1,680 crore (Rs 16.80 billion), to Rs 4,576 crore (Rs 45.76 billion). But the trio commands double the wealth of Subhash Chandra of Zee Telefilms, who, at number four, is worth Rs 2,388 crore (Rs 23.88 billion).
Among the new entrants, the entry at the highest rank is last year's unlisted billionaire, Sunil Bharti Mittal of Bharti Tele-Ventures. He debuts on the main lists this year at number eight.
The decline in the value of telecom stocks, however, dented his net worth which declined from an estimated Rs 3,883 crore (Rs 38.83 billion) at the time when Bharti got listed in February 2002 to Rs 2,055 crore (Rs 20.55 billion) at the end of December.
More importantly, eight women figure in the list of billionaires. They together command a net worth of Rs 4,324 crore (Rs 43.24 billion), posting a rise of Rs 520 crore (Rs 5.20 billion) from their net worth in calendar 2001.
The top six are spouses of the promoters of Infosys Technologies. And since the company has for the first time declared the shareholdings of both husbands and wives. The latter can rightfully claim to be billionaires in their own right.
Sudha Gopalakrishnan, the wife of Infosys' founder director S Gopalakrishnan, tops the list of women with a personal net worth of Rs 943 crore (Rs 9.43 billion).
Taken together with her husband's riches, the net worth of the Gopalakrishnan family tops Rs 1,423 crore (Rs 14.23 billion).
Sudha Murthy (Rs 736 crore or Rs 7.36 billion), wife of Infosys' promoter N R Narayana Murthy, and Akshata Murthy (Rs 621 crore or Rs 6.21 billion), their daughter, ranked second and fourth on the list.
Rohini Nilenkani (Rs 622 crore or Rs 6.22 billion) ranked third, Asha Dinesh (Rs 541 crore or Rs 5.41 billion) ranked fifth, and Jamuna Raghavan Rs 510 crore or Rs 5.10 billion) ranked sixth on the women's list.
Vidya M Chhabria enters the list after she took over the reins of the Jumbo group on the death of her husband Manu Chhabria. And, Anu Aga of Thermax is back in the BS Billionaire's list after one year's absence.
Anu Agha (Rs 207 crore or Rs 2.07 billion) and Vidya M Chhabria (Rs 142 crore or Rs 1.42 billion) are seventh and eighth on the list of women billionaires.