Dr Subhash Chandra, the chairman of Essel Group of Companies, was elected to the Rajya Sabha on Saturday in a closely contested election held in seven states. The ruling BJP party backed Dr Chandra for his Rajya Sabha berth. In Saturday's elections for 27 seats, the media baron contested as an independent candidate from Haryana. On May 24, when Dr Subhash Chandra stepped down as director and non-executive chairman of the Zee Media group, it was certain that he would don his political hat soon.
Often referred to as the media mogul of India, Dr Chandra is not only the pioneer of country’s first satellite Hindi channel Zee TV but has also revolutionised the television watching experience in India.
Zee TV was launched way back in 1992, and later came in Zee News, the first news channel (that was privately owned) when India’s television industry was completely monopolised by the government and all national channels were run by the government. At present, the Zee network is accessible in more than 169 countries around the world with a viewership of more than 670 million globally.
Dr Chandra securing a seat at the Rajya Sabha comes at an opportune time. According to media reports, Zee Entertainment Enterprises is looking to expand its wings further – domestically and internationally. Siti Cable, the cable TV company of Essel Group, is increasing its footprint. Also, English news channel WION (World-Is-One-News) is scheduled for launch in August while the group’s English news daily dna is also planning editions in more cities, state media reports.
Self made man with a sharp business acumen
A high school dropout, Dr Chandra is a self-made man and has time and again proved his mettle with his sharp business acumen which has led him to the path of success. From trading goods, setting up a packaging industry to opening up theme parks and multiplexes, and creating India’s largest and most profitable TV media group and launching an English newspaper, Dr. Chandra has surely travelled a long way.
His bouquet of businesses include television networks (ZEE), a newspaper chain (DNA), cable systems (Wire and Wireless Ltd), direct-to-home (Dish TV), satellite communications (Agrani and Procall), theme parks (EsselWorld and Water Kingdom), online gaming (Playwin), education (Zee Learn), flexible packaging (Essel Propack), infrastructure development (Essel Infraprojects Ltd) and family entertainment centres (Fun Cinemas).
Also known as an influential philanthropist, Dr Chandra set up TALEEM (Transnational Alternate Learning for Emancipation and Empowerment through Multimedia), which is aimed at providing access to quality education through distance and open learning. Dr Chandra is also the Chairman of the Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation of India – a movement to eradicate illiteracy from rural and tribal India. The Foundation provides free education to nearly eight lakh tribal children across 27,000 villages through one-teacher schools.
In January 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled Dr Subhash Chandra’s autobiography ‘The Z Factor’ which accounts anecdotes of his life. It talks about how a financial crisis eroded most of the family's wealth while he was in his teens, forcing him to take over the reins of their grains business. The narrative continues with Dr Chandra not just succeeding in reviving the business and repaying the family debts, but also growing the business and diversifying into packaging and later broadcasting and family entertainment destinations (EsselWorld).
In April 2016, he was named as the sixth recipient of the prestigious Canada India Foundation (CIF) Chanchlani Global Indian Award. The foundation recognised Dr. Chandra for his global leadership, strategic vision in globalizing India, and professional excellence.