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May 02, 2017

Essay : Dhirubhai Ambani - An Outstanding Visionary of the 20th Century

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Dhirubhai Ambani - An Outstanding Visionary of the 20th Century

  • Childhood, family profile and education. 
  • Early career. 
  • About marriage. 
  • How established Reliance Commercial Corporation ? 
  • Established first textile mill in Naroda.
  • The unprecedented growth of Reliance industries and the cause behind it. 
  • Diversification of business.
  • Awarded with many national and international honours.
  • Iconic personality, remains inscription for generations.
"If you don't build your dream, some one else will hire you to help them build theirs". 
Dhirubhai Ambani
Dhirajlal Hirachand Ambani, popularly known as Dhirubhai Ambani was one India's greatest visionaries and iconic business tycoons. He was the founder of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) which is now ranked among the world's top 500 companies in term of the revenue it generates. Dhirubhai's rags-to-riches story remains one of the most amazing stories of corporate India and is an inspiration to the youth of our nation. 

Dhirubhai was born on 28th December, 1932, into a Modh Baniya family, in Chorward village in the district of Junagarh, Gujarat. Father Hirachand Govardhandas Ambani was a school teacher and mother Jamnaben was a home maker. Dhirubhai has four siblings, Trilochanben, Ramnikbhai, Jasuben and Nathubhai. Dhirubhai had little interest in formal education.

He was a hard working, intelligent young man who earned money by selling `pakora' to pilgrims in Mount Girner over the weekends to help his impoverished family. 

At the age of 16 Dhirubhai was attracted toward socialism and politics. He started dreaming about a new progressive India where industries would develop at an unprecedented speed. However, his father's failing health and family's financial crisis forced him to find out job. Then he went to Aden. At Aden he worked as a clerk in A Besse & Co, one of the biggest trading firm in that region.

Here he learnt much about commodity trading, imports and exports, wholesale merchandising, marketing, sales and distribution. He also learnt about currency trading from the people of various nationalities whom he met and realised that he had a natural flair of speculative trading. 

In 1954, Dhirubhai married Kokilaben and had two sons Mukesh and Anil and two daughters, Nina and Deepti. He was sent by his employer to work in the Shell Oil Refinery in Aden. Having learnt the oil trade Dhirubhai started to dream of owning his own refinery someday. He said, "Our dreams have to be bigger. Our ambitions higher. Our commitment deeper. And our efforts greater". In 1962, Dhirubhai returned to India and started the Reliance Commercial Corporation in partnership with Champaklal Damani, his second cousin. 

Their first office was set-up at the Narsinatha Street in a 350 sq ft room with a telephone, one table and three chairs. Initially they had two assistants to help them. In 1965, Champklal Damani and Dhirubhai Ambani ended their partnership and Dhirubhai started on his own. They both have different temperaments and different views on how to conduct business. While Mr Damani was a cautions trader, Dhirubhai was a risk taker. Dhirubhai believed, "True entrepreneurship comes only from risk taking". 

Sensing an opportunity in the textile industry, Ambani sought and received the necessary clearances to manufacture cloth from polyester fibre. Setting up his first textile mill in Naroda, Ahmedabad, was the biggest hurdles of his life. `Vimai the textile brand he established, flourished and remains a household name in India.

Dhirubhai and his highly motivated sales personnel cut through the middlemen (wholesalers) and went straight to the retailers. The fabric became popular and India was soon wearing textile that came out of the Reliance factory. 

The growth of Reliance Industries was unprecedented and it went from a turnover of Z 70 crore in the mid-1970s to being a 75000 crore empire in 2002. For the further expansion he raised a great deal of money by issuing six series of convertible debentures and then converting them to equity shares at a premium. 

At a time when participation in the Indian capital markets was largely limited to a small but influential elite, for the first time Dhirubhai did manage to convince 58000 middle-class investors, mostly from small towns, about his promise of a substantial return on their investments. This promise he kept till his last days. 

Reliance Industries later diversified into energy, power, infrastructure, services, retail, capital markets, telecommunications, logistics and information technology. In the 1990s he turned aggressively towards petrochemicals, oil refining, telecommunication and financial services. By the time Dhirubhai died, on 6th July, 2002, his sons Mukesh and Anil had taken over the charge of Reliance Industries Limited.

Mukesh Ambani is the elder son of Dhirubhai Ambani who is the chairman, managing director and largest shareholder of Reliance Industries Ltd. RIL deals mainly in refining, petrochemical and oil and gas sectors. Reliance Retail Ltd is the largest retailer in India. His second son Anil Ambani is the Chairman of Reliance Group. He leads a large number of listed corporations including Reliance Capital, Reliance Infrastructure, Reliance Power and Reliance Communications.

Dhirubhai Ambani was a national icon and he was awarded with many awards and recognitions. He got the 'Entrepreneur of the 20th century' Award in March 2000 by Federation of India Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FICCI). On October 2011, he was awarded posthumously the Global Asian Award at the Asian Business Leadership Forum Awards (ABLF). On January, 2016 he was awarded Padma. Vibhushan, country's second highest civilian awards.

Dhirubhai truly believed in "Think big, think fast, think ahead; ideas are no one's monopoly". He was regarded as the most enterprising Indian entrepreneur. Starting off as a mere yarn dealer, he wrote history by establishing Reliance Industries and making it as one of the most successful Indian company. 

He is always remembered as the one who wrote Indian corporate history and built truly global corporate group by chasing his own dream. It was through his futuristic vision and strong business acumen that Reliance Industries created history in the Indian industry a legacy that would serve as an inspiration for generations to come. 

Difficult Words with Meanings :
  • Speculative based on guessing or on opinions that have been formed without knowing all the facts
  • Motivated one who is interested and works hard
  • Debenture an official document that is given by a company
  • Posthumous done after a person has died
  • Acumen the ability to understand and decide things quickly and well.
shared by Nisheeta Mirchandani
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