Abhishek Verma was born on 23rd February 1968 into a family that has served Indian politics for more that 50 years. Abhishek’s father Late Sh. Shrikant Verma was inducted as a member of India’s Parliament from Indian National Congress by Smt Indira Gandhi in year 1976 and he was among the leading journalists of the country prior to his association in Indian politics. Later in early 80’s when Smt Indira Gandhi returned as prime minister of India she recognized Sarikant Verma’s impressive communication ability and he was appointed as the official spokesman of Indian National Congress soon after which he became the General Secretary of the congress party.
His job was tough but immensely challenging as it entailed holding daily briefings for journalists, brainstorming party policies and generally helping the party evolve. Besides, he found time to write several books novels, many of which have been translated into foreign languages. The elder Verma died at the Sloane Kettering Hospital in New York in May 1986, battling cancer. Shrikant Verma’s foster mother, Minimata, was a Member of Parliament for an impressive 24 years, beginning 1950, until an aircrash cut short her life. Abhishek Verma’s mother and Shrikant Verma’s wife, Veena Verma, served 14 years in the Parliament as a member of the Congress Party.
Abhishek, pursued his education from Hindu College at University of Delhi and Georgetown University in Washington D.C. After his education he became Editor-Publisher of India Worldwide, a US-based monthly magazine co-published by the Indian National Congress’ overseas in 1989. Chairman Kamal Dandona, permitted him to forge close ties with Mr. Rajiv Gandhi who was ending his five-year term as Prime Minister.
After assassination of Rajiv Gandhi when P.V. Narasimha Rao was appointed as the Prime Minister of India, Abhishek fetched the business opportunities that arose largely from Indian Government’s vast liberalization measures, which helped his fledgling, company ESAM India Limited to heave ahead. ESAM launched a cargo airline, and lately succeeded by acquiring several cargo aircraft from the erstwhile Soviet Union which was operated on the Indo-Russian and Indo-Gulf sectors.
With the success of the airline business, ESAM expanded their wings in financial engineering, trade and counter-trade with Russia with vast portfolio products and services, all of which got contributed to a US$400 million annual turnover, between 1994 and 1999. In the year 1997, Abhishek was featured on India Today’s cover page.
During the last few years, the world political scene got tectonically shifted which resulted in exponential growth in Indian and Asian fixed and mobile telephony, and the accelerating worldwide convergence between telephony, internet and television as well as increased defense spending budgets of the Indian Armed Forces in excess of US$ 40 billion.
Abhishek’s strategic focus on the defense and telecom business gave birth to Atlas Group of Companies, which is into contracting of global defense and telecom powerhouse. The group delivers services in more than 70 countries with a turnover exceeding US $1.5 billion. Abhishek is the Chairman of Atlas Defense Systems Ltd and Atlas Interactive India Private Limited and Group Director Atlas Group of Companies
Being born in a political family with a legacy spanning 6 decades, politics runs in Abhishek’s blood. He grew up in a family with surroundings where Presidents, Prime Ministers and other important leaders not just from India but other countries were always around him. At the age of 18, in 1986 Abhishek was appointed the General Secretary of Indian Youth Congress incharge of Chattisgarh State of India. Abhishek was also nominated to contest the Lok Sabha (Parliamentary) elections in 1996 however he withdrew from the contest due to personal reasons since he was going through a messy divorce. Abhishek campaigned for several parliamentary elections and candidates of the Congress Party and offered helicopters and aircraft from his fleet to national leaders to extensively crisscross the country on campaign trails. He has advised several Congress party leaders on business issues and matters of foreign policy as well as defense and strategic affairs.
Abhishek is the Chairman of the board of trustees of Verma Foundation which supports visionary leaders and organizations working on the frontlines of social change worldwide. The foundation was created with gifts and bequests by Late Shrikant Verma & his philanthropist son Abhishek Verma, the foundation is an independent, nonprofit, nongovernmental organization, with its own board, and is entirely separate from the other commercial organizations of the Verma family. The trustees of the foundation set policy and delegate authority senior staff for the foundation’s grant making and operations. Program officers in the India, Asia, and Eastern Europe explore opportunities to pursue the foundation’s goals, formulate strategies and recommend proposals for funding.
The Verma Foundation was established on 1986, with an initial gift of $10 million from Abhishek Verma. During its early years, the foundation operated in New Delhi under the leadership of Verma family members. Since the founding charter stated that resources should be used “for scientific, educational and charitable purposes, all for the public welfare,” the foundation made grants to many kinds of organizations. Entrepreneurial success allowed Abhishek to undertake civic initiatives in Bilaspur, a city in Central India from where his family hails.
He installed over 150 electric wells to supply the under-privileged community with abundant potable water, established medical clinics, started mid day meal schemes for school going children and through celebrity charity events raised funds for cancer treatment equipment for the local hospitals and donated funds to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund and to victims of Earthquakes and for burn victims in India through the Verma Foundation. The Verma Foundation in partnership with Nehru Bal Samiti a charitable organization for uplift of under privileged children runs 6 schools in Delhi with 4,000 students. Sonia Gandhi, President of Congress Party in India has been the Patron of this organization for several years. The Verma Foundation, led by Abhishek Verma, remains committed to advancing human welfare, and is headquartered in New York.
In 2006, former Deputy Prime Minister of India L.K. Advani accused Abhishek of acting as an agent for Thales Defense France and receiving $175 million in kickbacks from the sale of 6 Scorpene Submarines purchased by the Indian Navy for $5 billion. After lengthy investigations spanning 2 years, by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) he was proved innocent on the allegations by the High Court of Delhi in 2008.