Divided Times

The untangling of Samir and Vineet Jain’s empire

01 December 2023
LLUSTRATION BY RADHIKA DINESH
LLUSTRATION BY RADHIKA DINESH

LUTYEN’S DELHI IS A cluster of plush addresses, home to the capital’s most powerful. The wide tree-lined streets house government buildings, hotels and residences of the political and cultural elite. In the new India forged by Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party, Lutyens has been projected as a symbol of everything that is elite and out of touch—a bastion of the old colonial, westernised and Congress-era secular ideals. But the residents of one of the bungalows continue to have a profound influence on what the nation wants to know. Standing off Motilal Nehru Marg, near the Taj Mahal hotel, Sujagi is home to the Sahu Jain family, owners of Bennett, Coleman and Company Limited. BCCL produces, among other things, India’s largest-selling English newspaper, the Times of India, and has given us the archetype of the aggressive, loud, incendiary television news anchor.

Though Sujagi’s walls have been privy to the birth of countless ideas that changed the game in the media business over the years, an evening this May was unusually momentous. Samir Jain, the group’s vice-chairperson and Vineet Jain, its managing director—brothers who have built and led the conglomerate together—reportedly arrived at a formal agreement to split up. A photograph purportedly from the night, published by the web portal Exchange4Media on 20 May, features Samir and Vineet sitting side by side, smiling, their famously contrasting personalities evident even in their attire. The younger brother, Vineet, wearing a blue floral shirt, his hair slicked back, was described by almost everyone I spoke to as “flamboyant,” while Samir, over a decade his senior, dressed in a plain white shirt, is considered the sober, spiritual brother. Behind them, in the photograph, are Sivakumar Sundaram, recently appointed the conglomerate’s executive director and CEO of publishing; N Subramanian, the group’s chief financial officer; and Puneet Dalmia, the managing director of the Dalmia Bharat group and a member of the Jains’ extended family.

The picture appears to be a happy one. Exchange4Media reported that, after the memorandum of understanding was signed, a family puja took place and the two brothers put a rope around a plant “to signal a fresh beginning.” Indeed, most media reports have suggested that this is an amicable partition, and BCCL itself has been very tight-lipped about the process. After several reports came out about the brothers signing an agreement, in May this year, an internal email to the management, which was leaked to the media, called the news “speculative and incorrect.” Although news of the partition has been reported by various outlets for months, BCCL has not yet issued a public denial.

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    Aathira Konikkara is a staff writer at The Caravan.

    Keywords: Bennett Coleman and Company Limited (BCCL) Times Now Arnab Goswami Samir Jain
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