The Hindujas have always been an enigma in India. Their closely-held business empire is estimated to have worldwide revenues of $10 billion (Rs 40,000 crore), more than a third of which comes from India. Yet, when it comes to investing in India, the group has not been as aggressive as many of its peers. Besides, none of its Indian businesses-ranging from commercial vehicle manufacture to media and entertainment- is a leader in its sector. Truck maker Ashok Leyland, considered the group's flagship company, is far behind market leader Tata Motors, and the group's bank, IndusInd, isn't among the top three private banks in India. For the greater part of the past two decades, the group was also accused of involvement in the scandal over the Bofors arms deal (although those charges were eventually withdrawn a couple of years ago).
The fact is that the Hindujas have never really demonstrated their bullishness about India by actually investing here in a big way. Better late than never, say the Hindujas-the family's patriarch Srichand and his three brothers, Gopichand, Prakash and Ashok. In the next five to seven years (perhaps coinciding with the group's 100th anniversary in 2014), the Hinduja brothers say they could be investing at least $50 billion (Rs 2,00,000 crore) across a welter of businesses, including oil & gas, real estate, power and infrastructure.
The third generation Hindujas, besides a few recently inducted professionals (like former ONGC chairman Subir Raha) are getting ready for that leap. Executive Editor Brian Carvalho met the Hinduja brothers to find out what the new blueprint is and, of course, to assess whether all those plans will become a reality.
Five years ago, Business Today began the annual India's Biggest Newsmakers study, a collaboration with Cirrus Media Research. The study ranks the salience of companies and CEOs measured by the quality and quantity of press coverage they get. To know who topped the charts for 2007.
Elsewhere, we cover how Sify, India's leading internet service provider, is reinventing itself two years after a new owner took charge. Another feature looks at how Sajjan Jindal is leading his Rs 10,000-crore predominantly steel-making group aggressively into a host of new areas-these include power, cement, aluminium and infrastructure. Plus: 60 minutes with the $27.4 billion (Rs 1,09,600 crore) DuPont's CEO Chad Holliday where he talks about what makes the chemicals giant tick and a story on how many Indian brands, including some really old ones that you thought had died, are making a comeback, repositioned and enriched with new value propositions.