India registered a 14.6 percent increase in the number of high-net-worth individuals [people with as net worth of at least US $1 million, excluding their primary residence] as the word's high-net worth wealth grew strongly in 2004.
Led by Asia and North America, the world's high-net-worth wealth grew for the second consecutive year, increasing 8.2 percent to $30.8 trillion, according to the World Wealth Report 2005, released in New York Thursday morning by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini.
The number of high-net-worth individuals grew by 7.3 percent to 8.3 million, a net increase of 600,000 worldwide.
North America led with a nearly 10 percent growth rate to 2.7 million HNWIs, surpassing the 2.6 million in Europe.
Asia-Pacific's growth rate of over 8 percent [with 2.3 million HNWIs] was twice that of Europe.
India, which had 61,000 HNWIs in 2003, registered a 14.6 percent increase last year, taking the number to 70,000.
"The two main drives of personal wealth creation -- economic growth and market capitalisation -- worked together to generate the strongest growth in high net worth wealth that we have seen in more than three years," said James P Gorman, executive vice-president of Merrill Lynch and Company.
"Looking regionally, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia and India saw the highest rates of HNWI population growth, while wealthy people in South Africa and the Middle East benefited from the rise in commodity and oil prices," he said.
The report acknowledged that among developing countries Brazil, Russia, India and China have emerged as an economic force together accounting for 41 percent of the world's population and 8 percent of its GDP growth.
"Although the combined output of these economies is a small fraction of world GDP today, the BRIC countries are significant because of their size and fast-paced economic growth," the report said.
Looking ahead, the report said, over-investment and excess capacity are expected to reduce China's growth in 2005, which will also impact many of its neighbours.
"India is the lone exception as its fortunes are less dependent on China and the overall economy of east and South Asia," the report noted.
"India, somewhat less reliant on its northern neighbour, is expected to continue on a growth path," the report noted.