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Two Indian-origin women among Forbes’ richest self-made women

New York: Two Indian-origin women have made it to Forbes’ inaugural list of America’s 50 richest self-made women, sharing the honour with high-achievers such as Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, media mogul Oprah Winfrey and singer Beyonce.

India-born Neerja Sethi, with a net worth of $1.1 billion, has been ranked 14th on the list of the most successful self-made women in the US while London-born Jayshree Ullal comes in at the 30th spot with a $470 million net worth.

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Sethi, 60 co-founded IT consulting and outsourcing company Syntel with her husband, billionaire Bharat Desai, in 1980.

She served as Syntel’s treasurer during its first 16 years of operations and is currently the vice president of corporate affairs, a role she has had since the company’s inception, Forbes said.

Through their family foundation, the couple pledged $1 million in 2014 to the University of Michigan to develop a start-up accelerator.

Ullal became president and CEO of Arista Networks, a company that has emerged as one of Silicon Valley’s most valuable networking firms. Forbes said Ullal “is one of America’s wealthiest female executives”.

“She took slightly more than an engineering team doing some good technology and turned it into the thriving network switch company it is today,” Forbes quoted Arista co-founder David Cheriton as saying.

Born in London and raised in New Delhi, Ullal has donated some shares to a family foundation created in honour of her sister, who died of lung cancer, Forbes said.

The first ever list of the nation’s top 50 most successful, self-made women as measured by their net worths includes entrepreneurs, CEOs, entertainers, designers and an author.

Elizabeth Holmes, who dropped out of Stanford to launch blood testing firm Theranos in 2003, tops the list with a net worth of $4.5 billion. At 31, she is also the world’s youngest female billionaire.

Other notables who made the cut include Eren Ozmen, who is chairman of Sierra Nevada, the biggest female-owned federal contractor in the US, creator of American Girl dolls Pleasant Rowland, prolific novelist Nora Roberts, and Martine Rothblatt, a transgender woman who founded and runs biotech firm United Therapeutics.

The list also includes Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman ranked 10, singer Madonna (28), designer Vera Wang (34) and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer (36).


Government clamps down on four US NGOs

In a move that could trigger controversy before US president Barack Obama’s visit, Centre has clamped down on four American NGOs — Avaaz, Bank Information Centre (BIC), Sierra Club and – dealing with issues on climate change.Union home ministry sources said the action was taken as irregularities were found in the funds being transferred. The funds received by the NGOs were being transferred in to the individual or personal accounts and not into the accounts approved to receive foreign funding under the Foreign Control regulation Act (FCRA).Following home ministry’s observation, the Reserve Bank of India has restricted all funding to four American NGOs operating in India after the government found them allegedly violating laws related to foreign contributions.The home ministry has asked RBI to take prior permission from its foreigners’ division before clearing any aid from abroad to the four NGOs. The move, sources said, follows prolonged monitoring of the activities of four American NGOs which were allegedly violating the rules governing FCRA.Accordingly, the RBI has put on hold any direct flow of funds to these NGOs and their representatives from abroad since each transaction has to be cleared on a case-by- case basis by the home ministry.The move comes within six months of international environment group Greenpeace and Climate Works Foundation subjected to a similar restriction for allegedly opposing several development projects in India. The two NGOs have denied the charges.