Eastern India has always been known as the region where some of India’s biggest and best-known business groups have their origins, whether it is the Birla family, the Goenkas, the Bangurs, the Khaitans and many more. Several of these figure in the Forbes list of India’s richest people, year after year, signifying the value they have managed to create. Despite the fact that the business families from Kolkata have their empires spread across the country, many continue to be headquartered in the east. To be sure, the region has not been an easy landscape for businesses over the years. Several challenges have had to be navigated—whether it is industrial unrest and labour militancy or power shortages—in the quest for growth and profitability. And yet the businesses have expanded and continued to generate wealth. This is evidence of the resilience and entrepreneurial acumen of these business houses, and a sign that despite multiple hurdles, the spirit of enterprise remains undaunted in these parts.
In this issue, we take a look at a few of the important companies based in Kolkata and their growth strategies in the midst of rapid and momentous changes in India’s business environment. What emerges is a heartening picture of business savvy and entrepreneurial drive. Take the example of Sanjiv Goenka’s RP-SG Group which, after acquiring its own identity in 2011 following a separation of businesses with elder brother Harsh, is now putting in place an important restructuring which is expected to bring in gains in the future. As Associate Editor Aveek Datta writes, the imminent demerger at power flagship CESC is expected to unlock value for shareholders across multiple business lines, with Goenka anticipating his group’s profitability to at least double over the next three years. I would also urge you to read the story of how the Todi brothers are preparing their hosiery company Lux Industries for further growth, betting on the premium segment. Elsewhere, Harshavardhan Neotia recounts how he built his real estate business brick by brick and is now looking at the low-cost housing segment. While we chose just a few names, Kolkata and other parts of the east have many other relatively smaller entrepreneurs who are charting out their growth paths surely and confidently.
Forbes India This issue also brings you the Forbes listing of the World’s Biggest Companies, the Global 2000, where the dominance of Chinese companies continues unabated. The Industrial & Commercial Bank of China and the China Construction Bank occupy the top two slots with Berkshire Hathaway of the US at number three. As much as 12 percent of the companies in the top 500 in this year’s list are from China-Hong Kong, up from just two percent in 2003, when the list was first compiled. The Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries tops among Indian companies, followed by the State Bank of India and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation.