Saturday, August 30, 2014

Sahara : The Untold Story - Review

Sahara - The Untold Story is a book compiled after all a scrupulous research undertaken by the author to clarify India’s most guarded and mostly unlisted business, the Sahara India Pariwar. It also probes into the firm’s current legal clash with the market supervisor. Entrepreneur Subrata Roy could be called the guardian angel of the group, as people in the Pariwar admire and respect him beyond doubt. He aspired to reach out to a million lives and feels hindered and covered up by regulations. The legal battle with the market regulators was thus unavoidable. Roy is also well-known for glamour and his association with film stars, cricketers and politicians. But a lot of questions remain when it comes to firm’s sincerity and honesty with the public involved and the depositors who have trusted it. Discover more about the man and the conglomerate in this book written by an experienced Indian journalist.

About the Author
Tamal Bandyopadhyay is associated with a financial daily called Mint, as the Deputy Managing Editor. He completed his post-graduation in English Literature from the Calcutta University. Tamal started working with The Times of India, Mumbai as a trainee journalist. He was later associated with The Business Standard, The Economic Times, and Financial Express. He has also written the books: A Bank for the Buck and Anupam Meenrashi.

There are biographies, autobiographies, and then, there is 'Sahara - The Untold Story'. When a book, supposed to be a work based on truth, comes laden with a disclaimer from the concerned people, Sahara India Parivar in this case, that "we don't agree with many of the things and the way they were presented in the book", well, you know, it would really be difficult to keep your curiosity under check.

And why should you?

Tamal Bandyopadhyay, the author, clearly mentions that this book is not a work of fiction, and shouldn't be considered as a creative product. Rather, it's a journalistic work that has been conceived and brought forth after intensive research, and that shows, very vividly, in the way this book has been documented, unearthing 'facts' and demystifying several conceptions relating to this giant conglomerate, in turn posing several questions, some answered, and a few that are still awaiting apt responses.

Subrata Roy founded Sahara India in 1978, headquartered in Lucknow, and gradually the organizational group rose to epic proportions, carving a niche for itself in the Indian and International market. With investments in diverse fields such as real estate, sports, retail, media, finance, entertainment, hotels, health care, power and airlines, Sahara made sure they were way ahead of the competitors, earning profits as well as goodwill from all quarters. Things looked good and well in line. However, the tremendous success wasn't short of its share of controversies.

In 2014, the Supreme Court of India ordered the arrest of Subrata Roy on the basis of evidences that suggested Sahara India had not been playing a clean game over the years. Sahara's continuous rift with SEBI, and it's different approach to KYC policy have often led to bitter disputes with the Government bodies. Also, it was alleged that several thousand crores that were deposited had not been refunded to investors. Allegations. Proofs. Allegations. Proofs. An entity that soared high into the realms of success, Sahara soon found itself burdened with controversies that it wouldn't have preferred.

While the authorities of Sahara India, Subrata Roy included, have come up with justifications over time and again, there still were loopholes that crept up regarding their handling of finances. How they have been generating bulk of money, investing in avenues and properties, and how they have maintained their accounts have always been a topic of keen interest among the avid debaters. Tamal Bandyopadhyay puts forward the case, with all it's aspects visible to the readers.

'Sahara - The Untold Story' traces the various facets of the conglomerate. It applauds its charitable approach, and the fact that it has provided employment to several people. Subrata Roy in fact is treated as a father figure by his employees, and is a man with confidence and unparalleled persona. Tamal also provides the outlook of SEBI and RBI towards Sahara, and how they created problems for Roy, questioning him and his actions time and again. What I really found interesting was the interview with Roy, the man with a mysterious aura surrounding him. Was Tamal able to resolve the mystery? Yes, and no. In times to come, we will certainly hear a lot about Sahara and Roy, and the detailed analysis provided to us will help in forming our own judgment. 'Sahara - The Untold Story' is a good material for study, and throws light at several corners of the Indian financial system.

Title: Sahara : The Untold Story
Author: Tamal Bandyopadhyay
Publisher: Jaico Publishing House
Publication Year: 2014
Language: English
Binding: Paperback
Genre: Non-Fiction, Biographies & Autobiographies, Business
No. of Pages: 388
Price: Rs 450
My Rating: 4/5


  1. ... every time one opens his/ her mouth to tell the truth ... it could mean death, regardless on which level, and, ya ... there is different levels of death.