"Guru of Bling" is just one of his nicknames. Recently convicted in a rape case, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the leader of Dera Sacha Sauda (DSS), has managed to create an empire of wealth using his influence across Punjab and Haryana.
Making a song and dance of brand Ram Rahim
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was struggling to make it to the big league as recently as in 2012. He had expressed support to the Congress in the Punjab state elections but the party lost and the influence of the Dera Sacha Sauda which he headed fell. But the 'guru' hit upon an idea to cash in on his popularity. He got "devotional pop music". The venture turned out to be a roaring success for the 'Maharaj' and boosted his popularity. The song "Highway Love Charger", produced in 2014, was viewed a whopping 3,20,000 times on Youtube and record-label Universal sold around 30 lakh copies of the album.
(video: Youtube/ DeraSachaSaudaVEVO)
Movies and masala maketh the 'Maharaj'
Ram Rahim is best known for the series of his mind-blowing movies. In 2015, he released "MSG: The Messenger of God" which, true to godman style, had a social message addressing issues such as drug abuse and alcoholism. Ram Rahim not only acted and directed the movie, but was the singer, composer, lyricist, scriptwriter, cinematographer and editor. No wonder he claims to be god (omnipotent)! The film was released worldwide in Hindi, English, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam, and the film grossed approximately Rs 16.65 crore according to box office estimates.
Four other films followed as sequels to the first one. A fifth is said to be currently underway.
150 products, 200 stores: The superman and his supermaket
In February 2016, Ram Rahim launched his brand called MSG. During the inauguration, he claimed that he started the brand when he noticed the amount of pesticide used in farms, and claimed that his intention was merely to offer products that were safe for consumption and not to compete with other brands. MSG All-Trading International Private Limited, which was set up in 2015, received dealership proposals from many countries.
Some of the products that the brand popularly sells include:
- 41 listed grocery products
- Varieties of rice and pulses
- Sugar, salt, and spices
- A whole range of cosmetics
- Ayurvedic products
The products are internationally available through an online portal called msgmyandurchoice.com.
Many pies, all with the goodness of 'Sacha Sauda'
No empire is complete without real estate, and Dera Sacha Sauda is no exception. Here's what the DSS owns:
- The DSS has a popular market complex, in which all the shops are named with the prefix 'Sacha'
- The headquarters ashram is located in Sirsa, Haryana, and is a campus-like expanse with all kinds of facilities. Ram Rahim lives in this luxurious ashram and has an array of high-end vehicles and has even set up a personal car modification studio.
- DSS has a network of 250 ashrams around the world including in US, UK, Canada, Australia and UAE.
- The sect also owns 700 acres of farmland in Sirsa.
- DSS runs several educational institutions, including 10 schools, one engineering college and a management institute located in Haryana, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
Ram Rahim currently has an estimated net worth of Rs 210 crores, which is expected to grow by 320% in the future, according to a report by FinApp. He is still expanding his empire and is reportedly planning to venture into electronics and furniture.