Subrata Roy, the founder of Sahara India Pariwar, passed away on Wednesday, November 14. He was 75. He was undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Mumbai for a long time.
Born on June 10, 1948, in Araria, Bihar, Roy was a prominent figure in the Indian business landscape, having established a vast empire that spanned various sectors including finance, real estate, media, and hospitality.
Roy's journey began with his education in mechanical engineering from the Government Technical Institute in Gorakhpur. He ventured into business in Gorakhpur before taking over Sahara Finance, a struggling chit fund company, in 1976. By 1978, he had transformed it into Sahara India Pariwar, which would grow to become one of India's largest conglomerates.
Under Roy's leadership, Sahara expanded into numerous businesses. The group launched the Hindi language newspaper Rashtriya Sahara in 1992, initiated the ambitious Aamby Valley City project near Pune in the late 1990s, and entered the television space with Sahara TV, later renamed Sahara One. In the 2000s, Sahara made international headlines with the acquisition of iconic properties such as London's Grosvenor House Hotel and New York City's Plaza Hotel.
Sahara India Pariwar was once hailed by Time magazine as the second-largest employer in India after Indian Railways, boasting a workforce of around 1.2 million people. The group claimed to have more than 9 crore investors, representing a significant portion of Indian households.
Despite his business successes, Roy faced legal challenges. In 2014, the Supreme Court of India ordered his detention for failing to appear in court in connection with a dispute with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). This led to a prolonged legal battle, with Roy spending time in Tihar Jail and eventually being released on parole. The case revolved around SEBI's demand for Sahara to refund billions to investors, with the Supreme Court setting up a "Sahara-Sebi refund account" for this purpose.
Roy's legal troubles did not overshadow his contributions to the business world. He received numerous awards and honors, including an honorary doctorate in business leadership from the University of East London and the Business Icon of the Year award at the Powerbrands Hall of Fame Awards in London. He was also featured regularly in the India Today list of the most powerful people in India.
In his later years, Roy looked to the future with ventures such as Sahara Evols, which offered a range of electric vehicles, and plans to enter the online education sector with Edunguru, targeting small towns and villages.
Subrata Roy's life was marked by both remarkable achievements and notable controversies. His passing leaves behind a legacy of a man who was once among India's most influential businessmen, with a business empire that touched the lives of millions across the country. As the Sahara Group mourns its founder, the impact of Subrata Roy's vision and entrepreneurial spirit will be remembered for years to come.