In his first formal powwow in 20 years, in a special issue on Marwaris in the business magazine Forbes India, the chairman of the Express group, talks fondly of his grandfather, the late Ramnath Goenka, and even poses with his son Anant Goenka in a photograph (above) in the paper’s presses.
Viveck Goenka tells Forbes India:
# “Ramnathji taught us never to compromise on editorial values and freedom… to be fearless and not to be aligned to any political party. I have had a whole lot of people threatening me.”
# “There was one thing clear about Ramnathji. ‘If I have an end-goal, I don’t care how I reach that…’ I agree with him but not everyone does.”
# “I see myself as a proper Tamilian Brahmin [Goenka grew up in Tamil Nadu], that’s my upbringing.”
The chairperson and editorial director of Hindustan Times, Shobhana Bhartia; Subhash Chandra and his son Punit Goenka of Zee; Gulab Kothari and his sons Nihar Kothari and Siddharth Kothari of Rajasthan Patrika, are the other media Marwaris featured.
The interviews give an inside view of the austere and conservative business and management ethic of the original media Marwaris, which later generations are eagerly dismantling.
# Shobhana Bhartia: “When we started innovative advertisements, my father [K.K. Birla] was taken aback. ‘No, we can’t do this. You can’t affect page one, can’t place something in the middle of it.’ I can understand that his generation was not used to these things. He felt colour pages would be more like a comic book.”
# Anant Goenka: “[As a Marwari, I have] an inherent drive to spend wisely and to build wealth. Whether large or small, [the 2,500 sq ft bachelor pad he bought after running up hefty hotel bills] is our own. It’s a Marwari thing. We are obsessed with appreciation.”
# Punit Goenka: “It is clear that we are in the business to make money; we are not here for charity or for building power or influence.”
# Gulab Kothari: “If you borrow money for growth, I believe you can’t reverse that decision. The question is, do I give my children 100 per cent of the business or leave them to deal with an outsider who I sold a stake to? My view is, expand less and gradually… we don’t need to jump the gun by taking debt.”
Photograph: courtesy Forbes India