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Modi's Famous 8: Get to know those who will advise PM on New India

Businesspersons meeting Modi include web entrepreneurs, I-bankers and & scions of business houses

BS Reporter 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi Speech on New India
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing at a community reception programme, in Tel Aviv, Israel

These are names that represent a new category and a new generation, also reflecting Modi's political preferences. From inheritors of first generation business magnates and self-made billionaires to the wife of a TRS MP and a businessman with a Bollywood bloodline, the list has several interesting names. Here is a brief profile of some of them:

1. Rajiv Bajaj: His second name needs no introduction. Hailing from one of India’s most trusted business houses, Ravi Bajaj has been the managing director of Bajaj Autos for over a decade now. An engineer by profession, Rajiv has seen the prolific transition of ‘Hamara Bajaj’ from a utility two wheeler maker that provided mobility to millions of Indians to affordable sportier motorcycles and more recently to upmarket offerings for the discerning motorist. The introduction of GST which has made motorcycles cheaper has also been a shot in the arm for Bajaj Autos.

2. Avni Biyani: The scion of the Biyani family that runs India’s largest supermarket chains under the brand name ‘Big Bazaar’, she has been entrusted with managing the family’s gourmet food business. Unlike Rahul Bajaj, she isn’t trained in the business she handles. Being a post-graduate in Sociology from an American University, Biyani is overseeing the growth of the gourmet food business called Foodhall from scratch. Under Biyani, Foodhall has seven stores now – four in Delhi, two in Bengaluru and one in Mumbai.

3. Sanjeev Bikhchandani: Since the venture of, Bhickchandani has seen his online empire grow. Now his company is the largest shareholder in Zomato. Under his supervision, Zomato grew to acquire the US based UrbanSpoon in 2015. From making a fortune, Bhikchandani has now moved to more philanthropic projects. Reports suggest that he is actively involved in setting up Ashoka University, that seeks to modernize under-graduate and post-graduate education in India.

4. Sanjay Nayar: As the CEO of Kohlberg, Kravis & CO (KKR) in India, Nayar is probably one of the most under-stated and influential names in the list. KKR has many strategic investments in India which put Nair on the board of the companies in which such strategic investments have been made. Among them include Coffee Day Holdings, Apollo Tyres, Bharati Infratel. The Modi government’s plan to restructure the assets of stressed companies has given KKR a lot more to choose from to add to its India portfolio at lucrative terms.

5. Nikhil Nanda: Nanda is the managing director of the Escorts group – known for the legendary Rajdoot motorcycle. Escorts now produce not just agricultural and heavy construction machinery but also claims to provide braking and suspension systems for railways. Escorts as a homegrown company will be crucial to Modi's Make in India programme. Nanda is also the maternal grandson of Raj Kapoor and is married to Amitabh Bachchan's daughter Shweta. 

6. Sangita Reddy: Daughter of the founder of Apollo Hospitals. Reddy like others like Avni Biyan, Rahul Bajaj and Nilkhil Nanda was born into the business. The hospital’s website claims that it was under her leadership that Apollo Hospitals in Hyderabad emerged as India’s first so called ‘Health City’. Not just was Reddy born into a business family, she is married in a political family. Her husband Konda Vishweswara Reddy is a Telangana Rashtriya Samiti (TRS) MP from Chevvala.

7. Bunty Bohra: He is the CEO of Goldman Sachs in India. His profile suggests that Bunty began as commodity trader with Goldman Sachs working in its London and New York offices more than two decades ago. Reports suggest that since 2007 when Goldman Sach invested close to $2 billion for nine deals in India, it hasn’t really upped the ante in the country. Since 2014 when the Modi government came to power it has invested only $2 billion in various deals. Goldman Sachs impressive portfolio in India include a 4.9% stake in Maruti Suzuki India and a 3.6% stake in Infosys. It is also an investor in Nikhil Nada’s Eicher Group and Rhaul Bajja’s Bajaj Finance.

8. Priya Nair: The profile of Hindustan Unilever’s vice-president states that she has worked across brands in HUL which made Indian’s smell good and look clean. Among brands, Nair is reported to have worked on include Axe deodorants, Dove soaps and CloseUp toothpaste. Now Nair as the head of HUL’s detergents business has been tasked with making Indians feel good about their clothes. Nair’s profile also states that she was the head of the HUL’s rural mobile marketing campaign called ‘Kan Khajura Tesan’which bagged three Golden Lions at the prestigious Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in 2014.

First Published: Mon, August 21 2017. 14:02 IST