Aptly resonant in the book’s title, Riding The Wave is a story of seven big guns in India’s business scenario who have used the changing trends over the last 4-5 decades in shaping their industries as well as the modern India. These big businessmen are well known to Indians, but the story that Mini Menon has presented us with is the one of their growth years. Riding The Wave talks about how these seven entrepreneurs became the shapers of India as we know it today. The year 1991 changed the winds of Business for India and hundreds of inspired young men to build the foundations of some of the biggest industries in India. After 1991, India was never like the past. As Miss Menon puts it on the book’s back cover “From decades of static growth, it got pushed into instant high gear.”
In the vast new arena that had opened up, Mini Menon pens the story of those who could linger on in the huge tornado of changes and reforms that India was facing at the moment. Riding the wave is the story of seven such businessmen who have ever since dominated the emerging market. We know Mini Menon as the journalist known for covering Indian business for the last fourteen years. We now see her talk about the lives and times of these 7 gentlemen in a simple and sensible way, thus making the behind-the-scene action come to life.
The book opens with the story of Ajit Gulabchand, the now chairman and Managing Director of Hindustan Construction Company. The book dwells into how he built some of the most iconic construction projects in India. Be it LAVASA hill city or Bandra-Worli Sea Link. He is the one who has never escaped the news scene and why – the book is yours to read to find out.
Among the other seven people in picture here, we have – Ajay Piramal, best known as the “deal-maker extraordinaire” who leads the Piramal Group, a diversified conglomerate with a presence across 100 countries. Under his leadership the Piramal Group evolved from a textile centric business to a USD 2 billion conglomerate with diversified business interests across pharmaceuticals, packaging, financial services and real estate. Third one is Gautam Thapar, founder of the Avantha Group, who became a heir to a business legacy when he felt it was almost unlikely.
Fourth in line is Rajeev Chandrashekhar – an Indian politician currently serving a second term as an independent member of the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament of India. Rajeev is the founder and chairman of Jupiter Capital, a financial services and investment company, and founder of BPL Mobile, a major mobile phone service provider in India. Riding the wave talks about his story from being a software engineer to one of India’s big telecom Turks.
Next one is Baba Kalyani, with some of the coolest photos in the book, who built his forging business from scratch and really needs no introduction. Currently, he is chairman and managing director of Bharat Forge, the flagship company of the Kalyani Group and the world’s second-largest forgings manufacturer after ThyssenKrupp of Germany. The book has aptly highlighted his work in setting up new milestones in Indian manufacturing.
Here we also have the story of Grandhi Mallikarjuna Rao or G. M. Rao, a mechanical engineer and the founder chairman of GMR Group. Known for building some of the finest airports in the country that has just got its wings, Mr. Rao’s story of venturing into Energy, Highways and Large Urban Development sectors is commendable and the one of struggle and ambition.
Last but not at all the least, is Mr. Ronnie Screwvala, whom some of them lovingly call “India’s shrewdest media mogul”, is now a social philanthropist and the founder and CEO of UTV Group (UTV Software Communications, Bloomberg UTV, and UTV Motion Pictures), which was founded in the year 1990. How he found his way into the Film and Television Industry of India is a story you will find in the pages of the book ‘Riding the Wave’.
Since the writer has a flair for using strong sentences where they fit, the book is almost unputdownable for any budding entrepreneur trying to make it big in the sudden plunge of first-generation entrepreneurs in the once-again changing scene of career options in India. There are definitely better biographies of these people that one can read and feel good, but this one’s a rare collection of seven Indian leaders who have driven the change. We would recommend that you gift this to someone who loves reading about leaders and change-makers!
Overall Rating – 4/5
About the author –
Mini Menon is the executive editor of Bloomberg TV India and is a well-known face on Indian television. She has reported on political, business and financial news and has also worked with some of the other marquee names in Indian news broadcasting, including Times Now and CNBC TV18 over the last fourteen years.
Mini has been awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Award for Excellence and the Zee Astitva Award for Journalism, and in 2009 she was adjudged the Best Business News Anchor by the Indian Broadcasting Federation.