Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has retained his position as the richest person in America for the 19th year in a row this year, according to Forbes’ annual ranking of the nation’s 400 super rich people who have a combined net worth of $1.7 trillion.

With a net worth of $66 billion, Gates not only remained the richest person in America but is also “the planet’s most generous person”, thanks to his philanthropic endeavours in developing nations, including India, Forbes said.

Gates’ net worth rose $7 billion since last August on the back of Microsoft shares, which climbed 20 per cent and on gains from investments in private equity, bonds and stocks, it said.

Gates continues to sell shares of Microsoft and now just one-fifth of his net worth stems from the software company he co-founded 37 years ago.

Indian-Americans

Five Indian-Americans, including Silicon Valley venture capitalist Vinod Khosla and founder of IT major Syntel, Bharat Desai, have been named among the richest people in the U.S. by Forbes.

Mr. Desai, with a net worth of $2 billion as of September 2012, has been ranked 239 in Forbes’ annual list released on Wednesday. He started Syntel in 1980 with his wife while earning his MBA from the University of Michigan. An IIT Mumbai alumnus, Mr. Desai stepped down as chief executive of the firm in 2009 but remains chairman.

Founder and Chairman of the Symphony Technology Group Romesh Wadhwani is ranked 250 with a net worth $1.9 billion.

Google board member and shareholder Kavitark Ram Shriram occupies the 298th rank with a net worth of $1.6 billion.

Manoj Bhargava, founder and CEO of the popular energy drink ‘5-hour energy’, is ranked 311, and has a $1.5 billion net worth.

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