Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament and Chairman, Essel Group, Dr. Subhash Chandra has always been ahead of his time. Be it his business empire or his political innings, Dr. Chandra has constantly believed in the power of reinvention, not only to stay relevant but also command a leadership role. Currently celebrating 90 years of the Essel Group’s existence, Dr. Chandra recently shared some insights into what makes him the successful person that he is.
Speaking about how Essel Group has successfully entered the sixth generation with diversified business interest spanning Media, Infrastructure, Education, Entertainment, Technology etc, Dr. Chandra said, “We recently completed 90 years of our existence. We started with trading in agricultural commodities but when my generation took over the business it was witnessing negative growth. So we started afresh and built the business again, and thanks to the blessings on the way, today we have grown to be more than a Rs 1 lakh crore group.”
The meteoric rise of the Essel Group is a testimony of Dr. Chandra’s business acumen, calculated risk taking and power of uncompromising values. Talking about the need to stand by one’s values, he shared the example of his business deal with Rupert Murdoch, stating, “When I entered in partnership with Rupert Murdoch in 1993-94 people told me that I was dancing with the devil. At that point I had little choice because of limited capital. It is well known that Murdoch’s policy has always been to capture the market. When we became partners, the management was with us. Though Murdoch wanted to take control of 100% of the partnership and he was sending feelers that I should sell the stakes, I remained honest to the core and refused his $ 3billion offer, which at that time was a big amount. My argument was simple- it was that India was not for sale. So I have stood by these values and it has helped my business. The point is to remain rooted in one’s beliefs no matter what the profit (is).”
Dr. Chandra was perhaps the first Indian who filed a lawsuit against some western media houses for stealing his show format. A firm believer in the power of Indian talent, Dr. Chandra spoke about the incident. “I was at an Emmy Awards ceremony in New York and some people there said that Indians always copy our content. I refused to agree and reminded them that they in fact copied my show (Sa Re Ga Ma Pa). A lot of people laughed at me when I told them about the legal notice that we sent to the makers, but we did not pursue the case at the behest of some close friends.”
Taking about the uniqueness of the Indian business culture and how it still believes in traditional practices, Dr. Chandra added, “You will be surprised to know that 75% of business in India is still being done without any document. It is just the handshake that marks a business deal and it shows the commitment and ethos of our culture and our nation when it comes to doing business.”
Calling the 90 years of Essel Group’s journey as years filled with “remarkable successes as well as challenges”, Dr Chandra commented, “It has been a journey of creating history, venturing into unknown territories, only to emerge as leaders, capitalising on our pioneering vision and sheer entrepreneurial spirit. Success is all about evolving and learning. As we look at the future, I am confident that we will carry forward the legacy of the Group with complete passion and dedication.”
“I have learned from my experience that the most critical part of success is self belief. You need to have faith in yourself and I guarantee that no power can stop you from achieving what you want to,” he added while sharing his mantra for long lasting success.
(These are excerpts from Dr. Subhash Chandra’s discussion with exchange4media’s Editor-in-Chief Anurag Batra at the Women Economic Forum 2017)