All for a cause

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By PEERLESS CHIEF S.K. ROY TALKS ABOUT HIS PASSION FOR SOCIAL WELFARE Smita Roy Chowdhury
  • Published 18.02.09
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S.K. Roy at his office. Picture by Rashbehari Das

He calls Ramakrishna Mission his second home and his leisure time is spent reading books on Swami Vivekananda. Unlikely interests, you might think, for a stalwart of the financial services sector.

Yet it’s his deep interest in social welfare that helped Sunil Kanti Roy, managing director of The Peerless General Finance and Investment, bag the Padmashri this year.

On January 26, he was on his way back from a wedding in Howrah and heading for a Kali puja, when his son told Roy about the Padmashri announcement. “I didn’t react at first, but then I got a call from my daughter who had seen the news on STAR Ananda. It was definitely unexpected and my first reaction was that receiving the award is a huge responsibility, not only for me but for everyone in the Peerless family,” recalls Roy.

A sense of euphoria prevails in Team Peerless and Roy feels each member is behaving as if the Padmashri is his personal victory! “No success can be achieved alone and I have received tremendous support from my family and my team. Not just the board members, I am thankful to every executive working in Peerless,” smiles the 65-year-old.

Roy joined the Peerless group in 1968. Founded by his father R.S. Roy in 1932, the group flourished under the leadership of B.K. Roy, his elder brother. Tutored in the business by his elder brother, Roy took over the mantle of the company after the death of B.K. Roy in 1985.

Finance, hospitality, healthcare… Roy has been at the helm of affairs of every segment of the Peerless group. “I love people… getting to know them, interacting with them, getting involved in their problems and solving them. Hence, all my businesses are very close to my heart. Be it the hospitality sector or finance, the customer is what I am interested in,” he says.

Roy’s involvement in social causes stems from his love for people. “Peerless has conducted several social welfare activities over the past 35 years. We haven’t just given money, I have been directly involved in these,” he claims. So whether it’s the 1978 Bengal floods or the earthquakes in Latur and Gujarat or the Orissa super-cyclone, Roy has always made sure to visit the place of calamity to oversee the company’s relief efforts.

Temples, hospitals, polyclinics, old-age homes, roads, schools and educational scholarships have all been a part of Peerless’s attempt to contribute to society beyond its businesses.

But the company’s biggest contribution to the country, feels Roy, is in the financial sector. “The habit of savings we have imbibed in people is our biggest contribution I would say, and also the opportunities for self-employment we have created. Since the Seventies, lakhs of youth have benefited from our self-employment programmes that include training and loans to small industries,” says Roy.

The challenge that lies ahead for Roy now is to maintain the honour that the Padmashri bestows on him. “Peerless has reached this position today after going through several rough patches in the past. Now it’s the prime responsibility of every sub-staff to board member to work towards maintaining the reputation that the company has achieved today,” he signs off.

At a glance

Date of birth: January 8, 1944

Education: Graduate from Calcutta University and a management student thereafter

Offices held:

Managing director of The Peerless General Finance and Investment

Chairman, Peerless Hotels Ltd

Chairman, Peerless Developers Ltd

Director, Peerless Securities Ltd

Director, Peerless Hospitex Hospital and Research Centre Ltd

Director, Bengal Peerless Housing Development Co. Ltd

Senior vice-president of Bengal National Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BNCCI)

Executive committee member of Bengal Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BCCI)

Executive committee member of the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FICCI)

Former director of West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation Ltd