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India became home to the most billionaires in Asia, pushing Japan back to the No. 2 spot, according to Forbes magazine’s 2007 rankings of the world’s richest people.

Lakshmi N. Mittal, the London-based steel magnate who spearheaded the takeover of European steel maker Arcelor SA, was the richest Asian — and the world’s fifth-wealthiest — with a net worth estimated at $32 billion, the magazine said.

India added 14 new billionaires since last year to bring its total on the list to 36 with a combined wealth of $191 billion,  contrasting sharply with the 400 million Indians who still live on less than a dollar a day.

The list for 2007 said India ended Japan’s 20-year reign as home to Asia’s most number of richest people. Japan now has 24 billionaires with a combined net worth of $64 billion. China and Hong Kong together account for 41 billionaires, including Hutchison Whampoa’s Li Ka-Shing.

India’s rich are marching toward the top of our rankings and now has three in the upper echelons, second only to the U.S.,” Forbes said.

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