RIP, Ramesh Chandra Agarwal

13 Apr,2017



He didn’t just dream big…


He was just 73. And had a heart attack as he descended at Ahmedabad airport on work yesterday (Wednesday, April 12).Ramesh Chandra Agarwal, who co-founded the Dainik Bhaskar group with his father, was a mediaperson who believed in his dreams. Not content to be leader in Madhya Pradesh, he launched his newspaper in Rajasthan, fought Rajasthan Patrika fiercely and later entered Gujarat and eventually Mumbai in the English market.

Now a diversified group – with interests in real estate, power and education, Agarwal was a firm believer in being hands-on in everything he did. Something he instilled in his sons – Sudhir, Girish and Pawan. So, for instance, when he launched Divya Bhaskar in Gujarat, he ensured the leadership team not only understands the state and the aspirations of the people there, but also learn the language and its nuances.

Although the group entered cable television in a limited way, he chose to stay away from television broadcast. Though his group’s forays in radio and digital have grown in a big way.

That Dainik Bhaskar is not just India’s but one of the world’s largest and most successful newspaper-led media groups speaks a lot for Ramesh Chandra Agarwal’s vision and all that he stood for.

While we will all remember him for being one of India’s most successful media barons, there are many who remember him for his journalism. At the time of the Bhopal gas tragedy, his newspapers were the first to expose the mismanagement and the sufferings of the people. Even later, while he was close to many governments, he also ensured that his papers were perceived to be fiercely independent.

Many in the ad and media fraternity may not be familiar with Ramesh Chandra Agarwal, but the fact that he was the chief promoter of one of India’s largest media-led conglomerates is testimony to his influence and contribution to the world of media.

While his passing is a huge loss for the closely knit Agarwal family, it is a great loss for the country of a pragmatic and successful media owner.

Our condolences to the Bhaskar family. And may we all help realise Ramesh Chandra Agarwal’s dream of a powerful media.

 – Pradyuman Maheshwari
Editor-in-Chief, Founder and CEO, MxMIndia



Presenting tributes to Ramesh Chandra Agarwal by Bharat Kapadia and Sanjeev Kotnala


Tribute by Sanjeev Kotnala: The Man who Accelerated Dainik Bhaskar ride with Escape Velocity


By Sanjeev Kotnala

Ramesh Chandra Agarwal, the patriarch of the successful Dainik Bhaskar Group, left us yesterday. It is a great loss to Indian journalism and media as a whole. As news of his sudden demise spread amongst friends and former colleagues, it brought back some fond memories and reflections on him.I worked with Dainik Bhaskar for 10 years (2004-2014) and in that period, I had a few opportunities to interact with Rameshji. Each short interaction was a masterclass in smart thinking, a rich experience that led to new learning. I bow my head in respect to him.

Rameshji was a simple man with a sharp analytical business mind. He had an uncanny ability to go through the whole slide deck, flipping through the pages and catch a discrepancy in data. He was of the school where raw data and direct experience and impression counted more than any external inputs. While on one hand, he raised the most pragmatic practical questions and on the other, he refused to accept the impossible as an answer.

He believed in the belief of ‘ULTA SOCH’ (think inversely) and ‘WHY NOT’ and also felt that it’s vital to find the barrier that is stopping you and then break it down, which the industry called the Bhaskar Way … that came from him.

When you see a large vision and decide to build on it, many friendly and not-so friendly relationships are created. In the early 1980s, he seeded the vision of expanding the footprint rather than living in the glory of being the #1 newspaper of Madhya Pradesh.

Amply supported by a collective force of divergent expertise of his sons, Sudhir, Girish and Pawan, he pushed the boundaries and found ways to realise the dream.

Knowing Rameshji’s constant devotion to think and plan, I am sure there will be some unfulfilled dreams that his sons and the group will look forward to realising them as planned. The concept of sooner or later was never a part of his vocabulary. He just wished a date on a project and then went about ensuring the successful completion. He knew when and where the right triggers and levers had to be pushed for the project to get the escape velocity or to get to the orbit.

He harboured no political ambition. He dedicated his life to the group and ensured there was no political alignment that placed constraints on the newspaper delivering on ts promise. He wanted to be in control – and not controlled by the external forces. You naturally respect a person for such passionate dedication to a cause.

There is a story I must share. I am not sure how much of it is true; but it represents Rameshji in many ways. I have heard different versions but here is what I know.

It was in the early 80s when he called his sons to check if they were happy being the #1 in MP or they had the dream of being India’s largest. The young sons wanted more success and dreamt big too. Rameshji then told them that success would not come easy. It will mean fighting against all odds. Nevertheless, if they were sure and ready to work relentlessly and dedicate themselves to the dream, success will be theirs. This is when he is supposed to have said you have to think differently and may need to make social sacrifices because to go to heaven, you should be willing to die. Something that is ingrained as a work culture in Bhaskar.

Ever-smiling and looking for ways to expand, to grow and consolidate at the same time, he was always willing to converse and spend time over a thought that smelled of any new opportunity. He was a perfect optimist who believed in his own capabilities to realize the dreams.


Sanjeev Kotnala, Contributing Editor, MxMIndia, is a senior media industry strategist and consultant. He is also an accomplished trainer. He writes for MxMIndia every Wednesday.




Tribute by Bharat Kapadia: Ramesh Agarwal’s Mantra: Vision + Aggression + Hardwork = Success


By Bharat Kapadia
When the whole world was predicting doom for the newspaper industry, here was a man who saw a boom and saw to it that his vision comes true.
Rameshji, as he was known, came across as a simple, ever smiling, unpretentious newspaper publisher but once you started talking to him you could see an entrepreneur, a visionary and a go-getter media believer.
What set him apart from the other media owners is that he believed in creating a market rather than worrying about how much share one can get from the existing players. His vision, ably supported for fine execution by his sons Sudhir and Girish (joined later by Pawan), was to enter a new market as a leader. “#1 from Day 1” was his goal and would leave no stone unturned. Door-to-door survey supported by huge outdoor campaign in a target city of a new launch was a very unique idea which actually did pre-selling in the guise of a survey.
In  half a century post-independence there was hardly any case where an established #1 newspaper was overtaken by any other competitor. Eenadu, probably became the first major newspaper to do so. Limitations of printing technology and physical distribution made it difficult for publishers to think beyond their established territory.
Although Ramesh Agarwal was not very tech savvy but he knew how to deploy the changing technology and create an impactful entry into a new market. He created modern printing presses, gathered a team and aggressively went to become a market leader in almost everywhere he entered.
What surprised many is after MP and Rajasthan, he set eyes on Gujarat. It was an unknown territory and a language for him and other Bhaskarites.
Gujarat was a lucrative market which had been suffering from biased reporting, very poor production values and poor working conditions for the journalists and the management staff.
With Divya Bhaskar launch, things changed dramatically. I had first hand experience to interact with him when I joined as the Executive Director. He would carefully listen to you and would give you full freedom to implement any idea if he saw confidence and conviction in you.
He was a workoholic and would not take a no for an answer if he was convicted about his plans. He would not spare anyone, including his own sons if things were not moving according to the plan and targets set. He can be credited to create an unprecedented growth in the Print industry and make India as the only growth market when the world showed a continuous decline in circulation and readership.
Ramesh Agarwal has left a ray of hope to believe in oneself and work relentlessly to achieve what others think as impossible. He has given this mantra to us: Vision + Aggression + Hardwork = Success
Bharat Kapadia is a veteran mediaperson and a former publisher. He had known Ramesh Agarwal before the joined the Bhaskar group as Executive Director and Publisher. 

See Also:

DB Post: Some images

Business Standard: A booklover who created a media empire

Business Standard: “Bhaskar (group) should be professional, like the Tatas, and aggressive, like the Ambanis.”

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