Mumbai: Subrata Roy, the founder and chairman of Sahara India Parivar, one of India’s largest and most diversified business conglomerates, died on Tuesday at the age of 75. He was suffering from a serious illness for a long time and was undergoing treatment in a private hospital in Mumbai.
Roy, who was popularly known as ‘Saharashri’, was a self-made billionaire who started his journey in a small town in Bihar and rose to become one of the most influential businessmen in India. He was also a philanthropist who supported various social causes and initiatives.
Roy was born on June 10, 1948, in Araria, Bihar, to a Bengali Hindu family. His parents were Sudhir Chandra Roy and Chhabi Roy, who migrated from East Bengal (now Bangladesh) during the partition of India. Roy studied mechanical engineering at the Government Technical Institute in Gorakhpur and started his first business there.
In 1976, Roy joined Sahara Finance, a struggling chit-fund company, and took it over. He changed its financial model and renamed it as Sahara India Parivar in 1978. Under his leadership, the company expanded into various sectors such as financial services, real estate, media, entertainment, tourism, healthcare, education, hospitality, and sports. The company also acquired several iconic properties and assets such as the Grosvenor House Hotel in London, the Plaza Hotel and the Dream Downtown Hotel in New York, the Aamby Valley City near Pune, and the Pune Warriors India cricket team.
Roy was known for his flamboyant and charismatic personality, as well as his close ties with celebrities and politicians. He was also known for his lavish lifestyle and extravagant events, such as the weddings of his sons Sushanto and Seemanto, which reportedly cost over Rs 500 crore each. He also authored several books, such as ‘Life Mantras’, ‘Think With Me’, and ‘Shanti, Sukh: Santushti’.
However, Roy also faced several controversies and legal troubles in his career. He was accused of running a Ponzi scheme and defrauding millions of investors. In 2014, he was arrested by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) for failing to refund Rs 24,000 crore to the investors of two Sahara group companies. He spent over two years in Tihar Jail and was later released on parole in 2016. He was also involved in a dispute with the US-based Brookfield Asset Management over the sale of his hotels in New York.
Roy’s death has left a huge void in the Indian business world and has saddened his millions of followers and admirers. His mortal remains will be brought to Sahara City in Lucknow on Wednesday, where the last rites will be performed. He is survived by his wife Swapna Roy, who is the deputy managing worker of Sahara India Parivar, and his two sons, who are the joint managing workers of the company.