What’s an Indian boardroom without an Agarwal or a Gupta?

Who occupies these fancy boardrooms?
Who occupies these fancy boardrooms?
Image: Reuters/Toru Hanai
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Indian boardrooms are dominated by men whose last names are “Agarwal” and “Gupta.”

A glance at names of directors of 1,530 National Stock Exchange-listed (NSE) companies shows that there are 286 of them surnamed Agarwal and its variations—Agrawal, Agarwala, or Aggarwal. It is important to note that these individual directors could be serving on multiple boards.

Gupta is the next most popular surname—there are 125 independent and 101 non-independent directors with that surname.

Other common last names on Indian corporate boards are Jain, Singh, and Shah.

The data was provided to Quartz by PRIME database, a capital markets information provider. A total of 10,078 names of directors were included for this analysis.

Agarwals and Guptas usually belong to the Hindu Baniya caste—communities traditionally involved in trade and commerce, and known for their business acumen. In fact, the Mint newspaper reported in 2011, that many Indian billionaires were Baniyas.

The new breed of first-generation Indian entrepreneurs also often comes from this community. Flipkart, the star of Indian e-commerce, was founded by Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal (not related). In 2014, they acquired another online seller Myntra, which was started by another Bansal—Mukesh.