In Ramesh Chandra Agarwal Ji's passing away, India has lost a uniquely gifted doyen of newspaper business. Ramesh ji was visionary, ambitious, had fire in the belly and remarkable success to show from it. From being a strong franchise confined to one region that was far from everywhere--Madhya Pradesh --Dainik Bhaskar grew into a national giant, the Hindi paper proudly having the largest readership for any newspaper in the world.
Ramesh ji had the dash to take his very local brand national. Then he took the same franchise, and the same all-conquering method to other languages, Gujarati, Marathi and even English. His was the strategy of a total but well-thought out, all-conquering expansion. It involved dropping the cover price really low, add subscription offers with attractive gifts, and then flooding the markets. He was always successful.
The most important feature of his personality was his humility, and his keenness to always help with a smile, and he always found time for you. In crisis years of the Indian Express I sought his advice often, which he gave to me as warmly as he would to his talented sons, I suspect. Sometimes, he also chided me entirely on his own, mostly for using newsprint which he found either unaffordable or unnecessarily of poor quality when we were going through tough cycles.
He set a culture of paying journalists well and respecting them. He also gave them the best working conditions in the heartland media. I have visited his newsrooms often to speak to his staff so I know. I also write a regular column for his papers and am amazed by the professionalism of his editors.
His departure is a big loss to Indian media. But he has kept the empire in the hands of his brilliant sons. May he rest in peace. My heartfelt condolences to the family and best wishes as they move into the future with greater responsibility.
(The author is Founder, The Print and former Editor-in-chief of the Indian Express)