Amrit Raj’s Indian Icon: A Cult Called Royal Enfield Announced as the Winner of the Gaja Capital Business Book Prize 2021

Mumbai, November, 2021Indian Icon: A Cult Called Royal Enfield, a riveting story of the creation of a powerful Indian brand going global, has been announced as the winner of the Gaja Capital Business Book Prize 2021.

The winner was selected from an eclectic and compelling shortlist of five books, showcasing the vibrant Indian business ecosystem. Established in 2019 by Gaja Capital, a leading private equity firm, the Gaja Capital Business Book Prize is one of the leading initiatives connecting the world of business and writing. With a purse of INR 15 Lakh for the winner, it is the biggest business book prize in the country to honour authors and their chronicles celebrating the spirit of entrepreneurship in India.

While announcing the winner virtually this year, Gopal Jain, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Gaja Capital, said, “The 2021 shortlist covered a wide spectrum of themes, including public policy, entrepreneurship, ethics, and philanthropy. The titles were well researched, brilliantly articulated, and gripping reads, and the jury had a wonderful time poring over them. After spending long hours deliberating over and debating the books, the jury came to a unanimous decision of awarding Amrit Raj and his book, “Indian Icon: A Cult called Royal Enfield” as the winner of the Gaja Book Prize 2021.

Indian Icon is a fast-paced, engaging, and well-researched title, and Amrit has been spot-on in his analysis of how a rare global brand from India was built, unbiased in his criticism and balanced in his praise. On behalf of the jury and Gaja Capital, we congratulate Amrit on a well-deserved victory.”

The jury for the third edition comprised stalwarts from the worlds of industry, investments, academia, public policy, and governance including: Manish Sabharwal, Chairman Teamlease (Chairman, Jury), Imran Jafar, Managing Partner & co-founder- Gaja Capital, Dr. Lakshmi Venu, MD of Sundaram-Clayton Ltd (SCL),  Michael Queen, Former Chief Executive of 3i (British Multinational PE fund),  Narayan Ramachandran, Former country head, Morgan Stanley India, Prithvi Haldea, Founder Chairman of Praxis Consulting (Prime Database), Neelkanth Mishra, Managing Director and Head of Equity Strategy, Asia Pacific for Credit Suisse, Prithvi Haldea,  member of several capital market related committees of SEBI, Shailesh Haribhakti, Founder and Managing Partner of Shailesh Haribhakti & Associates Chartered Accountants, Upendra Kumar Sinha, Former Head, RBI Expert Committee on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

The 2021 shortlist consisted of a diverse range of stories of enterprises and their protagonists including:

1.       The remarkable story of a titan: Azim Premji: The Man Beyond the Billions (by Sundeep Khanna and Varun Sood)

2.       The rise and fall of a financial superstar: Yes Man: The Untold Story of Rana Kapoor (by Pavan Lall)

3.       The making of a global Indian brand: Indian Icon: A Cult Called Royal Enfield (by Amrit Raj)

4.       An agenda for the Indian banking system: Overdraft: Saving the Indian Saver (by Urjit Patel)

5.       The story of a rare manufacturing success at scale: Getting Competitive: A Practitioner’s Guide for India (by R.C. Bhargava)

Jury Citation

This year’s winner – “Indian Icon: A Cult Called Royal Enfield” takes readers through the riveting story of the creation of a powerful Indian brand. Rich in insights from consumers, the company management and industry colleagues, it balances the story of the brand with lessons in management and entrepreneurship. Warm congratulations both to the author and to the team at Royal Enfield.

Amrit Raj is former Head of the National Corporate Bureau at Mint. As a journalist for more than 10 years, Amrit had built a strong understanding of Indian corporates, family businesses and other corporate matters. All this comes to the fore in this book, telling the story of the brand, the company, and the individuals who have made it what it is. It is the story of the old guard clashing with the ideas of the new, leading to dramatic changes in the business. In a first, the book bears the behind-the-scenes takeover dramas and the battle to create a premium Indian consumer brand for the global markets. This is also a story of a leader who lived his product and brand experience, translating his passion for the biker lifestyle to consumers in India and around the world.

About the book

Extensively researched, this book is a lively, honest, exhaustive, and well-narrated story of a British motorcycle brand from the 1950s. The book covers its origins, the near-collapse, and its eventual revival. It is a fascinating and spell-binding story of the transformation of a brand and business into a cult. It is a great Indian example of entrepreneurship, powered by hard work and passion.

While the Royal Enfield brand has been well known for decades, very little has been known about the people and the company behind it. The unknown story of the company has been unfolded for the very first time. The book narrates the drama and the action that created a premium home-grown consumer brand for the Indian and global markets. Extensive coverage has been done of the brand, the company, and the individuals over the last few decades.

The book also captures well the clash of Royal Enfield’s old guard with the new management, and details vividly the events that led to dramatic changes in the company and its business.

The mystery of this cult brand has been narrated with lots of inputs from people associated with the brand in both official as well as unofficial capacities. The author has made the effort to talk to key players in the brand’s history and many of bike’s lovers.

The word pictures, the research, the full sharing by key players and the fast-paced writing style all make for a great read.

About Amrit Raj

Amrit Raj was a national editor with Mint and led the newspaper’s national corporate bureau till April 2019. He wrote extensively on Indian corporates and MNCs, family businesses, and other corporate matters. He is currently pursuing a senior role at a technology company.

About Gaja Capital

One of India’s premier mid-market focused private equity firms, Gaja Capital provides growth capital to ambitious entrepreneurs to build the future champions of Indian economy. Through its specific, methodical, and consistent investment strategy, Gaja has an established track record of delivering strong performance since inception and has positioned itself as a partner of choice for emerging companies and leading global investors in India. Gaja Capital was founded in 2004 by Gopal Jain, Ranjit Shah, and Imran Jafar —a group of seasoned indigenous professionals with an established track record of investing and operational management in India.  The high calibre of leadership, investment, and operating expertise within the Gaja’s core team has enabled it to deliver tangible value beyond capital to the entrepreneurs it has invested in. 

About the Gaja Capital Business Book Prize

The Gaja Capital Business Book Prize was established in 2019 and has a purse of Rs 15 lakh for the winner. It honours authors and their works which celebrate the spirit of entrepreneurship. In its inaugural year, the prize was won by Girish Kuber and Vikrant Pande for their book The Tatas: How a Family Built a Business and a Nation. The 2nd edition of the Gaja Capital Business Book Prize was awarded to Mihir Dalal’s Big Billion Startup: The Untold Flipkart Story.