5 Greatest rags-to-riches stories from India

They are rich and they are famous. They live a life that is the envy of us. But not all personalities were born with a silver spoon. Neither were they from a well off background, nor had any political back up to rise to fame through easy ladders. This is one genre of stories that has enjoyed an over lasting appeal: rags to riches tale. Stories of heroic struggles against odds, and eventual triumphs have always inspired people, given them hope, courage to fight, and egged them on to persevere.

Here are 5 fabulous stories from the India, which we believe, would ignite your never say die spirit, and inspire you to become all that you can be.We have not covered the Dhirubhai Ambani’s success story as most of us know about it.

Ponty Chadha


From snack seller to liquor tycoon

From selling snacks by the roadside to owning a business empire worth around Rs 8,000 crore, Ponty Chadha’s was a real rags-to-riches story. Gurdeep Singh Chadha, alias Ponty Chadha, who was born in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh, used to sell snacks with his father in front of a liquors shop as a young boy. Using his political clout, he soon ruled over the liquor business in Uttar Pradesh and his corporate interests also spanned across real estate sugar, film production and exhibition. In September 2012, his Wave Group bought the Delhi franchise of Hockey India League. Along with his brothers, Ponty managed the Chadha Group, which was consolidated under the Wave brand. He ran a chain of multiplexes in the national capital region.

Chadha was an arbiter of disputes, a fearsome rival, a protective father, and a man who feared for his life. But most importantly perhaps, Chadha was a shrewd and manipulative businessman, who ruthlessly outmanoeuvred his competitors and had a vision that could have extended the family trade indefinitely.

Ponty Chadha died on Nov 17th, 2012, leaving behind a kingdom worth approx Rs 10,000 crore.

Dr. Subhash Chandra


Dr. Subhash Chandra, also known as Subhash Chandra Goelis an Indian media mogul, businessman, television personality, motivational speaker, and philanthropist. He is the chairman of India’s largest TV channel network Zee Media, Essel Group, and is an Indian conglomerate.Dr Chandra rose from a small flour-mill owner to a media mogul in India.

Mr. Subhash Chandra has been the Managing Director at Zee Telefilms Ltd., since October 29, 2002. Mr. Chandra serves as a Promoter of Essel Group of Companies. He served as Managing Director at Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. from October 29, 2002 to December 2, 2005. He founded Essel Group in 1976 and served as its Chief Architect. His industry leading businesses include television networks and filmed entertainment, cable systems, satellite communications, theme parks, flexible packaging, family entertainment centers and online gaming. He made his mark as an influential philanthropist in India. He served as the Chairman of Padmalaya Telefilms Limited. He served as the Chairman of the Board at ETC Networks Ltd., until October 16, 2008. He has been the recipient of numerous Honorary Degrees, industry awards and civic honours, including being named ‘Global Indian Entertainment Personality of the Year’ by FICCI for 2004, ‘Business Standard’s Businessman of the Year’ in 1999, ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ by Ernst & Young in 1999 and ‘Enterprise Chief Executive Officer of the Year’ by International Brand Summit.

Mohan Singh Oberoi

Mohan Singh Oberoi

From a billing clerk at Shimla’s The Cecil hotel earning INR 50 a month to the founder of luxury hotel group like Oberoi , Mohan Singh ‘Oberoi’s’ journey seems amazing.Long before India woke up to the potential of hospitality and tourism, one man had a dream. It began in Rawalpindi, where a young teenager would gaze in awe at Hotel Flashmans, and culminated with the creation of a multinational group, spanning 35 hotels in seven countries. Rai Bahadur Mohan Singh Oberoi, born on August 15, 1898, lived through the upheavals and achievements of the 20th Century — and his own life was just as eventful and dramatic.

Mohan Singh Oberoi was often described as the grand old man of the Indian hospitality industry. It would, perhaps, be equally appropriate to say he was one of its progenitors. He was, after all, the first Indian to run a hotel chain in the country.

Rapid acquisitions followed — including Flashmans, the first hotel Oberoi had ever seen in his life. In 1969, he started his first international venture, The Soaltee Oberoi in Nepal. The group today has properties in Melbourne, Bali, Colombo, Mauritius, Cairo, and Budapest, among others.

Oberoi was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1962 and 1972, to the Lok Sabha in 1968, and received the Padma Bhushan in 2001. Newsweek named him one of its “Elite Winners of 1978” for significant contributions to the world of business. Asked what motivated him, Oberoi replied: “The idea was never merely to make money. The compulsion was to think big, always to offer the best.”

Gulshan Kumar (Musical Maestro)

Gulshan Kumar

When it comes to showcasing the best of Indian music, Shri Gulshan Kumar has certainly been a visionary figure. The founder of T-series, Gulshan Kumar is a name that remains forever golden in the hearts of the Indians.

Born to a low profile Punjabi family, Gulshan was the son of Chandrabhan, a fruit juice seller in Darya Ganj market in Delhi, where he started working early on. Later Gulshan changed career paths when his familyacquired a shop selling records and cheap audio cassettes. This was the beginning of what turned into a vast music empire.

Gulshan Kumar started his own audio cassette operation known as “Super Cassettes Industries”, which later turned into hallmark of fame and witness to his evergreen hits. With the expansion of his musical empire, Gulshan Kumar moved to Bombay, only to leave behind traces of what we still consider to be evergreen.

Music is the flavour of the nation. And Gulshan Kumar have created masterpieces, that would remain unbeatable in the history of the nation, for years to come.

Kunwer Sachdeva, Founder & CEO, Su-Kam


From selling pens to stationery, working in the sales dept to revolutionizing the inverter industry in India, his entrepreneurial journey has been long and diverse. Kunwer Sachdeva, the founder of India’s leading power solutions company – Su-Kam Power Systems, is one of the greatest innovator, marketer, motivational speaker and visionary entrepreneur of our times.

Coming from a lower middle-class family background, Sachdeva never let financial constraints stop him from becoming a serial entrepreneur from a young age of 15 years. Being a visionary, Kunwer was quick to foresee the growth of power backup industry in India and decided to shut down his cable TV business in 1998 to found Su-Kam Power Systems. Once a startup, Su-Kam, is now an Indian Multi-National Corporation, and is recognized as one of the fastest growing organization among the India Inc. 500.

Under Kunwer’s guidance, Su-Kam has now established itself as a reliable brand in 90 countries worldwide. Kunwer has won several awards for entrepreneurship, technology and innovation. Most notable of them being Government of India’s ‘Bharat Shiromani’ and Ernst and Young’s ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’.

“You can go from very small to very big”, and these stories exemplify it the best. Or rather, sometimes, all it takes is for someone to be at the right time, and at the right place, and BOOM! They’ve made it and everybody knows their name.