Sushanto dives headlong into Sahara business

NEW DELHI: The 20-something Sushanto Roy, who took over the reins of Sahara India Group's media business from Sumit Roy recently, has begun in all earnest, meeting various departmental heads and getting to know the business ventures better.

Over the last few days, Sushanto, son of promoter and managing director Subroto Roy, is reported to be camping in Delhi with an aim of "getting to know the business activities better," according to group sources.

The Delhi University-educated scion of the airlines-to-real estate-to para banking-to-media and entertainment Sahara Group, also sat through presentations made by the group's newly-started news channels, the Sahara Rashtriya national news channel and one for Uttar Pradesh, which is streamed locally for smaller cities of the state.

"He endeared himself immediately to everybody when he requested that he should not be addressed as `sir' by colleagues," an employee working with the Sahara news team said.

However, during meetings Sushanto, who has been dabbling in acting -- he starred in the lead role in Mission Fateh on Sahara Manoranjan -- also made it clear that he would not tolerate nonsense and would like to be as hands-on on the job as his father, company sources said.

Sushanto takes over at a time when the Sahara India Media and Communication, the division under which the group's media businesses are carried out, is attempting to chart out an ambitious path of having over 30 region-specific TV news channels. The channel's effort is to tap the non-urban advertising market and leveraging expansion through its presence in the print medium in all these regions.

Though Sushanto's arrival is being seen as part of a succession plan, his father Subroto Roy would like to see it in an another way. "The decision was mine to bring him here, but it would not be proper to call it a succession plan," the elder Roy said. He added that it's the group's practice not to get outsiders at top level and also not to have rookies from the promoter's family heading business divisions.

Roy explained, "Sumit Roy was needed more in the headquarters at Lucknow for business reasons and we thought it'd be unwise to get somebody from the outside to succeed him. At the same time, we did not want somebody young and inexperienced to take control (of the media business). Since Sushanto has been learning about the job for a few years and also loves acting, we thought it would be best to bring him in now. People know him in the group and he is also not a rank newcomer."

It now needs to be seen whether the son is truly 'a chip off the old block', the real heir of a man who single-handedly built up a huge business empire having started in Gorakhpur and Lucknow with a few thousand of rupees.

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