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Shobhana BhartiaShobhana Bhartia (b. 1957) is the Vice-Chairperson and Editorial Director of the Hindustan Times group, one of India's leading newspaper and media houses. She looks after editorial as well as financial aspects, and is credited with raising Rs. 400 crore through a public equity launch of the HT Media group in September 2005. The name is sometimes written Shobhana Bharatiya or Bhartiya, but the preferred spelling is Bhartia.
Background Shobhana is the daughter of the industrialist KK Birla, and grand-daughter of GD Birla, one of the Birla family patriarchs. The KK Birla family owned 75.36 per cent stake in HT Media, valued at Rs 834 crore in 2004 She is a graduate of Calcutta University, and is married to Shyam Sunder Bhartia, Chairman of the Rs. 14-billion Pharma firm Jubilant Organosys Limited (a spinoff from the earlier chemicals venture Vam Organics). Their son Shamit Bhartia is also a Director at the HT Media group, and also looks after lifestyle businesses such as the Domino's Pizza franchise and also convenience store chain Monday to Sunday in Bangalore.
When Shobhana joined Hindustan Times in 1986, she was the first woman chief executive of a national newspaper and probably one of the youngest. She is considered to be one of the motive forces behind the transformation of the Hindustan Times "into a bright, young paper." In February 2006, Shobhana was nominated to the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of parliament, on a recommendation by the ruling United Progressive Alliance headed by Sonia Gandhi. The nomination, reserved for eminent people from the fields of literature, science,art and social service, was challenged in the Supreme Court of India on the grounds that she was a "media baron" and not a journalist, and that she was politically affiliated with the Indian National Congress. However, the court dismissed the appeal at the admission stage itself, saying that the scope of "social service" was broad enough to include her.
She has been quite active in the Rajya Sabha, asking frequent questions and also introducing the "The Child Marriage (Abolition) and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill, 2006"
After the Congress government came to power in 2004, she was one of the first Padma Shree award nominees in 2005. The award was given for journalism, but critics have felt that she is more of a business person than a journalist. Both this Padma Shree award, as well as the Rajya Sabha nomination, both during the UPA regime, have led to claims that these are rewards for a certain bias towards the Indian National Congress, especially with respect to editorial policy at the Hindustan Times and particularly to Sonia Gandhi
She has received the Global Leader of Tomorrow award by the World Economic Forum (1996). She is also the recipient of the Outstanding Business Woman of the Year, 2001, by PHD Chamber of Commerce & Industry, and National Press India Award, 1992. She has also won the Business Woman award, The Economic Times Corporate Excellence awards 2007.
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