The recent demise of Ramesh Chandra Agarwal, Group Chairman, Dainik Bhaskar Group, has left a void in the regional journalism space.Born on November 30, 1944 at Jhansi, Agrawal came to Bhopal with his father late Dwarka prasad Agrawal and laid the foundation of the Dainik Bhaskar newspaper in 1958. Having single-handedly scripted the meteoric rise of the Dainik Bhaskar (DB) Group in a span of three decades, Agarwal’s charisma ensured that DB challenged every stereotype that existed in the vernacular space and grew into a formidable Rs 980 crore empire.
Agarwal was a visionary and risk taker with a sharp grip on the changing market dynamics of the language papers. In a country that has considered English language journalism as mainstream and as a news source that sets the political and social discourse in the country, Agarwalwasamongst thefewto challenge this notion. Giving a new direction to vernacular journalism, Agarwal ensured that DB spread toevery nook and cornerof the country. His dream was soon realized andnow DB publishes seven newspapers including its three flagship newspapers DainikBhaskar, DivyaBhaskar, and SaurashtraSamacharpresent in 14 states with 62 editions with an estimated readership of over 19 million. DB Corp also has stakes in domains like Radio and Outdoor advertising.Given its immense reach, DainikBhaskar was declared the world's fourth largest circulated daily in 2016-2017.
For his immense contribution to journalism,Agarwal was honoured with the Rajeev Gandhi Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism and was also the Chairman of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Madhya Pradesh. He also ranked 95th in Forbes list of richest Indians in 2011 and 2012. Even India Today listed him among India’s 50 Most PowerfulPeople in 2003, 2006, and 2007.
Agarwal’s contemporaries remember him as a humble person whose contribution to the field of journalism and specifically to the field of vernacular journalism will be cherished in the collective memory for long. Highlighting his contribution to journalism, veteran journalist Shekhar Gupta said,“Rameshji had the dash to take his very local brand national. His was the strategy of total but well thought out, all-conquering expansion. 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. He set a culture of paying journalists well and respected them; his departure is a big loss to Indian media.”
Terming the sudden demise of Ramesh Chandra Agarwal as a personal loss, Rajat Sharma, Chairman& Editor-in-Chief, India TV,said, “The news of Sh. Ramesh Agarwal’s untimely and sudden demise has left a huge void in the world of media. It is a matter of personal loss for all of us in the fraternity. I deeply mourn his death and my thoughts are with his family in this hour of grief. May his soul rest in peace.”
While Prasoon Joshi, Chairman, McCann Worldgroup Asia Pacific, stated, “It’s a loss for not just the Bhaskar group and family but for the industry. His vision and value system will live on.”
Anurradha Prasad, Chairperson and Managing Director of B.A.G. Films & Media also lamented at the passing away of the media baron. “He was a doyen of Indian media. Big loss to our fraternity,” she said
Agarwal’s four-decade long journey with DB Corp may be over but his legacy is here to stay. As a thought leader and someone who has revolutionized the vernacular news industry and brought it almost at par with the English press, Agarwal,over the years, had ensured that regional news gets its deserved place in a country that is increasingly getting defined by vernacular consumption.