Leadership, innovation, entrepreneurship and wealth are the four engines that drive the storytelling at Forbes India. Those engines keep purring through the year to generate an eclectic mix of long-form stories, shorter incisive takes, thought leadership pieces, blogs, podcasts and videos. And once a year it’s time for those engines to fire up and celebrate on-ground the founders and CEOs who have made a difference. It’s time for the Forbes India Leadership Awards (FILA).
Now in its 12th edition, the Forbes India team has attempted to be consistent with the original vision of shining the spotlight on the best leaders, founders and innovators. Award categories like Outstanding Startup, Best CEO and Entrepreneur of the Year—selected by a crack jury headed by jury chair Harsh Mariwala—are thus par for the course.
Yet, every year we make changes to reflect the rapidly changing times or to capture facets of significant businesses that tend to often get short shrift in the mainstream deluge.
Consider, for instance, the Regional Goliath award category that considers solid local brands that are leaders in their own rights—and now bursting with ambition to go pan-India as well as international. Our shortlist for this award had an assortment of brands in sectors from dairy and poultry to cement and footwear; they originate from various outposts of the country, from Rajkot in Gujarat to Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh to the Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya; and they all have size, scale and profitability. The winner is perhaps an unlikely name for most Forbes India readers but wait till you read about their unique journey and ambition. Turn to ‘Cementing Its Position’.
If, in the past couple of years, it was the vanity of the valuation that had grabbed centre stage, it’s the sanity of profits and cash generation that has once again become a priority. As the go-go days of fundraising seem a distant memory, Forbes India thought it an appropriate time to honour those business models that are proving immensely viable—without a penny of external funding.
Climate action and sustainability are buzzwords in India Inc, with every business worth its balance sheet expressing intent to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Forbes India’s Climate Warrior category is devoted to startups that have made it their mission to provide solutions to the large corporations to meet their climate goals. The contenders were many, from a vertically integrated plastic recycler to a green hydrogen venture to a biomaterial crusader.
Readers tend to remember Forbes for its billionaires and rich lists, but, if wealth creation is a focus area, so is giving back. The Grassroots Philanthropist award seeks to identify not just those cutting cheques but also immersed in the causes they back. The long list in this category was formidable, with philanthropists who support a variety of causes from education and health to disaster relief and climate action. After much deliberation, the jury plumped for a group of founders who made one of the largest ever private contributions to the Indian Institute of Science.
Our Lifetime Achievement Award winner is a stalwart of industry, known for his contribution to nation-building as a leader of hi-tech manufacturing and infrastructure colossus; and more recently for his philanthropic initiatives in education and health care, among other areas. Our profile of the indomitable figure who towered over Indian business for more than half a century, written by Forbes India’s FILA go-to helmsman Salil Panchal.
(This story appears in the 31 March, 2023 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)