If Oberoi was a man of luxury, Subrata Roy was the son of soil
It is said that empires are not built in a day. In the modern world, where there are no empires controlling vast expanse of land, this wisdom applies equally well for business empires. For it is not an easy task for a person to set up a successful business, leave alone transform it into a business empire.
Those who built such empires and sustained them for decades would be incredibly intelligent persons. India lost two such magnificent personalities — Oberoi Group chairman emeritus Prithvi Raj Singh Oberoi and Sahara Parivar chairman Subrata Roy — in one day. Both Oberoi and Roy were giants in their respective spaces. They transformed their business and made their mark in the industry.
Oberoi was instrumental in making the Indian hospitality sector get recognised as one of the best across the world. A fine gentleman and grace personified, he was known as a person who redefined luxury in India during the heyday of socialism when being rich was frowned upon. In over 30 years, he transformed a nine-hotel chain into a world-class hospitality giant, weathering several ups and downs like the Mumbai terrorist attack, Covid-19 pandemic and global financial crisis.
If Oberoi was a man of luxury, Subrata Roy was the son of soil. Roy built his business empire by building products that appealed to the lowest rung of society, which was ignored by most of the businessmen. It was said every village in north Indian states had at least one Sahara associate who goes to each member’s house to collect daily deposits as low as Rs 10. He played a key role in inculcating the habit of institutional savings among the poor people.
The fact that Roy had laid the foundation for the business empire during licence raj shows his perseverance. Though Sebi asserted its regulatory oversight on Sahara’s investment schemes, which were in grey areas, and prosecuted Roy for violation of rules, no individual spoke ill of him. With the death of P.R.S. Oberoi and Subrata Roy, India lost its two geniuses.