The Goenka family belongs to the Marwadi community of money-lenders and tradesmen, and hails originally from Rajasthan in western India. As early as the 19th century, an enterprising member of the family, Ramdutt Goenka, set up base in Kolkata, which was then the capital of India, and a major commercial hub of the British Empire. The family prospered in its traditional vocations of money-lending and trade. It was in the 1970s that Rama Prasad Goenka (b.1930) leveraged the family's wealth to take over a variety of industries and corporates and thus create a ready-made Business conglomerate. Many of these corporates were stressed due to the socialistic policies and the "License Raj" then prevalent in India, and others were marked by the disagreements within the families of their owners. In a series of takeovers, RPG acquired such companies relatively cheap and used his financial resources and Business acumen to make them viable. In this way, by the end of the 20th century, RPG had cobbled together a significant Business empire. The Goenka Business empire is remarkable for two things: firstly, the fact that none of their major ventures were founded by them, all being take-overs; and secondly, the resultant diversity and incoherence of these companies.
Through a series of mergers and acquisitions including the likes of Dunlop India and CESC in 1980, CEAT Tyres in 1982, RPG Life Sciences (then Searle India) and KEC International in 1985, the Gramophone Co. of India (now Saregama) in 1986, Spencers and Harrisons Malayalam in 1988, Bayer India, Firstsource Solutions Limited in 2012 and many more, R. P. Goenka came to be known as the 'takeover king' in his heyday.
Goenka died on 14 April 2013 in Kolkata. He had two sons, elder Harshvardhan and younger Sanjiv.