Dropout to diamonds: 4 major events that shaped Gautam Adani, the world’s third richest person – the Indian billionaire’s journey from leaving university and jewel sorting to surviving a terror attack

Indian billionaire Gautam Adani is one of the richest people in the world. Photo: Reuters
Gautam Adani’s incredible rise from university dropout to one of the world’s richest people has just become even more impressive after he made it to the top three of the world’s wealthiest on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The achievement puts him ahead of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Mukesh Ambani and Louis Vuitton’s Bernard Arnault.
India’s Gautam Adani just became the world’s third richest person. Photo: @gautam_adani/Twitter

Adani is the first Asian to ever make it to the top three of the Bloomberg Billionaires Index and has an estimated fortune of US$143 billion, not far behind Jeff Bezos, though Elon Musk remains far ahead of them both in first place.

The Indian businessman comes from humble beginnings and has had his fair share of terrifying and life-shaping incidents that have defined his journey to unimaginable wealth.

Here are four stand-out moments that have made Adani who he is today …

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1. Dropping out of university

Gautam Adani is a self-made man whose ambition has made him wealthy beyond his wildest dreams. Photo: @gautam_adani/Twitter

According to Global Hues, Adani was always an ambitious youngster who was determined to be a success in life. Although his family were business oriented, he did not want to go into the family trade, which was textiles. He also dropped out of his degree at Gujarat University in his second year and moved to Mumbai from Ahmedabad.

2. Sorting diamonds

As a young man, Gautam Adani was a diamond sorter in Mumbai, classifying stones by their shape, colour and quality. Photo: Unsplash

Leaving his family and studies behind, and with little money in his pocket, Adani landed a job at the Mahindra Brothers as a diamond sorter, reported Global Hues.

Gautam Adani. Photo: @gautam_adani/Twitter

Later, he set up his own diamond brokerage business, which was so successful that he was a millionaire by the time he was 20. In 1981, his brother asked him to return home to run a small plastics factory, which he did. He also went into business with a cousin and it was from here that he began to dabble in commodities and import/export, the foundation of his future empire.

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3. Surviving a terror attack …

Indian billionaire Gautam Adani during an interview at his office in Ahmedabad, in April 2014. Photo: Reuters

In 2008, a series of terrorist attacks in Mumbai claimed the lives of 175 people. Ten Pakistani men with ties to terror group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba entered buildings across Mumbai, opening fire and killing indiscriminately, before nine of their number were also killed. The coordinated attacks carried on for three days.

The Gateway of India, a ceremonial arch on the Mumbai waterfront, opposite the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel. Photo: @tajmahalmumbai/Instagram
One of the locations that was targeted was the iconic Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel. According to India Times, Adani was having dinner at the Taj when the incident occurred. He hid in the basement as the attackers took the lives of 31 people in the hotel, escaping after commandos retook control of the area.

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4. … and a kidnapping

Those attacks were not Adani’s only brush with mortal danger. After he dropped out of university and found success with his diamond company, he moved back to Ahmedabad and set up a commodities trading venture in 1988.

According to Times Now News, his wealth drew attention and in 1997 he was abducted at gunpoint along with politician Shantilal Patel as they left the Karnavati Club. The publication reported that a scooter blocked their way while a van with a group of men kidnapped them. Adani was later freed without a ransom being paid, though he doesn’t talk too much about what exactly happened, telling the Financial Times in 2013 that “two or three very unfortunate incidents happened in my life, that is one of them”.

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  • As Adani’s wealth has soared, he has overtaken Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Mukesh Ambani and Louis Vuitton’s Bernard Arnault to lie behind only Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos
  • After dropping out of Gujarat University, he worked at Mahindra Brothers in Mumbai – then survived the 2008 terrorist attacks at the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel