The relatively small but significant coterie of seriously wealthy people in India is set to number close to one million by 2008.

Latest figures, reported by researcher Datamonitor, show that among the sub-continent's huge 1.1 billion population at the end of 2003, 618,000 individuals were styled as 'affluent'. The numbers have grown by 17.6% a year over the last five years, backed by a large skill base and strong domestic stock market.

Economic growth has averaged 7.6% a year since 1994, thanks to the development of the service industry and the technology sectors.

Datamonitor's report, Tapping the Indian Wealth Market, estimates 'the wealth of India's residents' at $177 billion (€133bn, £92bn) at the end of 2003, up 123% from $79bn in 1998.

Says report author Alan Shields: "India has its own merits as one of the developing BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) economies. Today, India is attracting both foreign wealth managers and domestic banks to set up wealth management businesses."

He says the nation's wealth market is still developing and the 'pool of potential clients created each year is huge'.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff