Ramnath Goenka

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Ramnath Goenka
Ramnath Goenka 1942.jpg
Ramnath Goenka in 1942
Born(1904-04-22)22 April 1904
Died5 October 1991(1991-10-05) (aged 87)
OccupationMedia businessman
Spouse(s)Moongibai Goenka

Ramnath Goenka (1904–1991) was an Indian newspaper publisher. He launched The Indian Express in 1932 and created the Indian Express Group with various English and regional language publications.[1] In 2000, India Today magazine, named him amongst their list of "100 People Who Shaped India".[2] The Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards, named after Ramnath Goenka, have become one of the most prestigious award functions for Indian journalists.[3][4][5]

Early life[edit]

Ramnath Goenka was born on 22 April 1904 in Bihar,[6] to Basantlal Goenka.[7]

Career prior to newspapers[edit]

In 1922, he moved to Madras as the agent for Sukhdevdoss Ramprasad[citation needed] on a salary of Rs. 30/- and took shelter with a family named Chaudhry which came from a village near to his native Mandawa, at 23 Peria Naicker Street.[8]

Family and heirs[edit]

At a very young age, Goenka was married to Moongibai, a lady of his own community and similar background, in a match arranged by their parents in the usual Indian way. The couple were blessed with three children:

  1. Son Bhagwan Das. He married Saroj Jain, daughter of the Jain family which own the Times of India, in the usual Indian way. They had three daughters but no son. BHagwan das predeceased his father, leaving Goenka with no heirs; he therefore adopted a son of his elder daughter (see below).
  2. Elder daughter Krishna Khaitan. She was married in the usual Indian way to Ajay Khaitan, scion of the family which owns Williamson Magor and McLeod Russell Tea and Eveready Batteries. She had two sons, including Vivek Khaitan, who was adopted by Goenka after the death of his own son. Vivek, now known as Viveck Goenka, is currently the chairman of the Mumbai-based Indian Express group (which circulates in north India)
  3. Younger daughter Radha Sonthalia. She was married in the usual Indian way to Shyam Sunder Sonthalia, a businessman based in south India. Her son now runs the Madurai-based New Indian Express group, which circulates in south India.

Goenka's only son, Bhagwan Das, was slated to take over his father's business interests, prime among which was the Indian Express, for which he served as managing director under the chairmanship of his father. However, he died suddenly of a heart attack in 1979, leaving a wife and three daughters. The absence of a direct male heir caused Ramnath to decide to adopt his grandson, Vivek Khaitan, son of A. M. Khaitan and his wife Krishna. He was chosen because he was one of two sons, and had a brother who would remain with his own parents. Upon his adoption, Vivek Khaitan changed his name to Vivek Goenka.

The adoption was acknowledged by other members of the family but a bitter property dispute nevertheless broke out among them after Ramnath Goenka died in 1991.[citation needed] An out-of-court settlement was finally reached in 1995.[9] By this settlement, Saroj Goenka and her daughters received ownership of prime property in Mumbai and Delhi but lost control of the Indian Express. The newspaper was divided into two separate publishing entities, one controlled by Vivek Goenka and the other by his cousin Manoj Kumar Sonthalia, son of Radha Sonthalia. Vivek Goenka received ownership of the Mumbai-based Indian Express Limited, controlling the seven north Indian editions. Manoj Kumar Sonthalia received ownership of the Chennai/Madurai-based The New Indian Express, controlling the nine south Indian editions.


Goenka died in Mumbai on 5 October 1991.[1]


He was portrayed as the ageing press baron Manik Dasgupta by Hindi film actor, Mithun Chakraborty in the 2007 Hindi movie, Guru.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b A doyen of Indian Journalism, Shri Goenka's greatest passion was the print media. He launched the Indian Express in 1932. - https://parliamentofindia.nic.in/ls/lsdeb/ls10/ses2/02201191.htm
  2. ^ Naqvi, Saeed (2000). "THOUGHT & ACTION: The Baron". Indian Today.
  3. ^ "Ramnath Goenka Awards, Journalism Awards, Journalism Awards for Excellence 2015". expressindia.indianexpress.com. Retrieved 2018-05-03.
  4. ^ ":: Award ::". cij.co.in. Retrieved 2018-05-03.
  5. ^ "The Wire's Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty Wins Ramnath Goenka Award for Feature Writing - The Wire". The Wire. Retrieved 2018-05-03.
  6. ^ "Glowing tributes to Ramnath Goenka". The Hindu. 23 April 2004. Retrieved 29 November 2013.
  7. ^ Reed, Stanley (1950). The Indian And Pakistan Year Book And Who's Who 1950. Bennett Coleman and Co. Ltd. p. 679. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  8. ^ warrior of the Fourth Estate page 15 and 16
  9. ^ Terms of the settlement

Further reading[edit]

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