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A VISIONARY PIONEER

On July 6, the world mourned the loss of Dhirubhai Ambani, a titan of Indian industry whose visionary leadership reshaped the landscape of business in India and beyond. His journey from modest beginnings to founding Reliance Industries, now a global conglomerate, epitomizes the indomitable spirit of entrepreneurship and determination.

Dhirubhai Ambani’s story is emblematic of the Indian dream—a tale where perseverance, foresight, and audacity converge to defy odds and redefine possibilities. Born in 1932 in Gujarat, he started his career in Yemen as a clerk and returned to India with a vision to create something extraordinary. In 1957, he founded Reliance Commercial Corporation, which later evolved into Reliance Industries. His ambition was unyielding, and he navigated challenges with a steadfast belief in his abilities and a knack for identifying opportunities where others saw obstacles.

Under his astute leadership, Reliance Industries surged ahead, revolutionizing various sectors, including textiles, petrochemicals, refining, and telecommunications. Dhirubhai’s philosophy of “Growth with Globalization” propelled Reliance to unprecedented heights, making it India’s largest private sector enterprise and a global player in energy, materials, retail, and telecommunications.

Reliance’s Parallel with India’s Economic Rise

Dhirubhai Ambani’s entrepreneurial journey mirrored India’s economic liberalization and global integration in the 1980s and 1990s. His ability to foresee market trends, coupled with strategic investments and bold expansions, positioned Reliance as a catalyst for India’s economic growth. The company’s success became synonymous with the nation’s burgeoning potential, attracting global attention and investment.

Beyond business, Dhirubhai democratized the Indian stock market by making Reliance Industries the first company to raise funds from the public. This move empowered ordinary Indians to participate in the country’s economic growth through investment, fostering a culture of wealth creation and distribution that benefited millions of shareholders and employees alike.

Dhirubhai was not only a visionary entrepreneur but also a master communicator and charismatic leader. He inspired loyalty and dedication among his workforce, believing in empowering people, nurturing talent, and fostering a culture of innovation. His famous mantra, “Growth has no limit at Reliance. I keep revising my vision. Only when you dream it, you can do it,” continues to inspire countless entrepreneurs and business leaders globally.

His generosity and support extended beyond his immediate circle, exemplified by his assistance to budding entrepreneurs like Vedanta Industries’ founder, Anil Agarwal. Dhirubhai’s gesture of paying Anil Agarwal’s party bill during his early days symbolizes his commitment to nurturing talent and supporting future industry leaders.

In 2016, he was honoured posthumously with the Padma Vibhushan, India’s secondhighest civilian honour for his contributions to trade and industry and carrying forward India’s developmental agenda.

Mukesh Ambani: Carrying Forward the Legacy

Following Dhirubhai’s demise, his elder son, Mukesh Ambani, assumed the mantle of leadership at Reliance Industries. Mukesh’s tenure has been marked by groundbreaking initiatives that have further expanded the conglomerate’s footprint across diverse sectors. His visionary projects, such as Reliance Jio Infocomm, have revolutionized India’s telecommunications landscape, democratizing access to high-speed internet and digital services.

Mukesh Ambani’s strategic acumen and commitment to innovation have propelled Reliance to new heights, reinforcing its position as a global powerhouse. His emphasis on sustainable growth, technology integration, and consumer-centric solutions continues to shape the future trajectory of the conglomerate.

Remembering his father, Dhirubhai Ambani, on his 91st birth anniversary on December 28, 2023, Mukesh Ambani stressed his father’s core principle of family values in conducting business. “We will always cherish his timeless family values. These are integrity, excellence, empathy, the spirit of cooperation, and the commitment to make every tomorrow better than today for one and all. These values are encapsulated in Reliance’s WE CARE philosophy.”

Few years prior, on December 23, 2017, Mukesh had yet again stressed the indomitable spirit that his father had and said, “JO KABHI KEVAL EK KARMAYOGI KI KALPANA THI….AAJ SAKAAR HO GAYI. EK SOCH…..SAMRAJYA MEIN BADAL GAYI.” My father is a timeless legend. An Indian icon. An eternal inspiration to Indians from all generations—KAL, AAJ AUR KAL.We shall forever remain true to his vision, his ideals, and his principles.”

Mukesh had also said once, “Reliance is the creation of the vision of one individual ─ my father, and our founder, Shri Dhirubhai Ambani. We owe to him all the progress we have made in the last forty years. Reliance stands on his strong and ever-supportive shoulders.”

The Next Generation: Carving Their Own Niche

As Mukesh Ambani grooms his children—twins Akash and Isha, and younger son Anant— they are gradually assuming roles within the Reliance empire, each carving their own niche in the business world. Akash and Isha have been actively involved in various digital initiatives and philanthropic endeavours, while Anant is gaining experience across different sectors within Reliance.

Celebrating Dhirubhai’s Legacy: Anant Ambani’s Wedding

Recently, the wedding celebrations of Anant Ambani highlighted the enduring legacy of Dhirubhai, where family values intertwine with business prowess. Dhirubhai’s vision of building not just a business empire but a closeknit family has resonated through generations, fostering a legacy of unity, ambition, and resilience.

In conclusion, Dhirubhai Ambani’s remarkable journey from rags to riches, his pioneering spirit, and his transformative impact on Indian business are etched in history as a testament to human potential and enterprise. His legacy lives on through Reliance Industries, which continues to innovate and lead across global markets under Mukesh Ambani’s stewardship, while the next generation prepares to carry forward the torch of ambition and excellence. Dhirubhai’s vision, had he been alive today, would undoubtedly be filled with pride at witnessing the achievements and future aspirations of his family and their contributions to India’s economic landscape.

In this Reliance Ambani family scenario, there is another powerful Manoj Modi factor in the company, who is virtually taking care of all areas of operations and strategies, as a close associate and an old Gujarat days friend of Mukesh Ambani. He does not hold any official position in the company but his influence is visible everywhere. He is very decisive and result-oriented. Even late Dhirubhai Ambani was also fond of him.

Dr Jagdeesh Chandra The writer is CMD & Editor-in-Chief, First India

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