Dhirajlal Hirachand Ambani, better known as Dhirubhai Ambani, was one of greatest visionaries and iconic business tycoon. He was the founder of Reliance Industries Limited (1966). He had been figured in the The Sunday Times Top 50 businessmen in Asia. Ambani took Reliance Industries public in 1977 and by 2007, the combined fortune of the family was $60 billion, making the Ambani’s the third richest family in the world.
Dihrubhai Ambani was born on 28 Deccember 1932 in a Modh baniya family to Hirachand Govardhandas Ambani and Jamanaben in the village of Chorwad in the district of Junagarh. His father was employed as a school teacher while his mother was a homemaker.
While at school at Junagarh, he was elected as the General Secretary of the Junagarh State Union. Next, he became a part of the Praja Mandal Movement that organized rallies to bring about constitutional reforms in the state.
In 1949, a new Socialist party emerged from the Congress of which he found himself a part of. Leaving aside his political pursuits, he concentrated on academics and gave his matriculation exams. However, due to the ill health of his father and impoverished living condition of the family, he had to give up on his education and take up a job offered in Aden.
At Aden, he took up a clerical job at A. Besse & Co, the largest transcontinental trading firm east of Suez. Curious to learn the tricks of the trade, he soon started working simultaneously for a Gujarati trading firm. It was there that he learnt accounting, book keeping and preparing shipping papers and documents. Meanwhile, Yemeni movement for independence curtailed opportunities for Indians living in Aden. Thus, he moved back to India in 1958 and started exploring business opportunities in Bombay. He focused on low profits, high volumes and rich quality. He soon shifted focus to yarn trading, which though had high levels of risks involved, promised richer dividends as well. Starting on a small scale, he soon made big deals in yarn to the point of being elected a director of the Bombay Yarn Merchants Association. His foresightedness and ability to judge helped him crack two most hefty deals in the yarn market that earned him the flush of capital required for the future Reliance Textiles. Every weekend, he flew from Bombay to Ahmedabad to check on the progress of the establishment of the factory and troubleshoot any problems faced by the workers. His main aim was to produce the best quality nylon in the quickest way possible and in largest quantities.He tripled the workforce to fasten the building of the factory. However, a drop in the valuation of the rupees globally steepened the project costs.
By August 1966, the construction work had finished and the equipment and machineries were being installed to meet the September 1 deadline of starting off with the productions. Meanwhile, he accumulated a workforce of 35 men from Calcutta, Indore and Bombay to work in the factory. Production started as planned on September 1, 1966 but took a couple of months to stabilize.
By January 1967, his dreams started to realize as the Naroda factory began producing the finest quality of Nylon; but the new company had no buyers in the market as the wholesalers refused to buy fabric from Reliance at the instance of established big mill owners. His daring attitude and gutsy behaviour impressed all and soon the market for Vimal, the name of his fabric, grew and started expanding. In no time, it became the finest, best-selling fashion fabric of its times.
By 1972, Reliance became huge and thriving, a stark contrast to its starting days. Three years later, it received a nod of excellence from the World Bank, a fact that speeded the upgradation and expansion of all plant operations.In 1981, his elder son Mukesh joined the business and in 1983, his younger son, Anil Ambani joined the business and took over as the chief executive officer at Naroda. Between 1984 and 1996, the mill experienced a grand makeover as computerized and high-tech machines replaced the old traditional ones making Reliance the grandest composite mill in the country.Over the period of time, the Reliance industries diversified into other sector, such as, telecommunications, information technology, energy, power, retail, textiles, infrastructure services, capital markets, and logistics.
Ambani was admitted to the Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai on 24 June 2002 after he suffered a major stroke. It was his second stroke, the first one had occurred in February 1986 and had paralyzed his right hand. He was in a coma for more than a week and a number of doctors were consulted. He died on 6 July 2002.The country has lost iconic proof of what an ordinary Indian fired by the spirit of enterprise and driven by determination can achieve in his own lifetime.
AWARDS AND RECOGNITIONS
- October 2011 – Awarded posthumously the ABLF Global Asian Award at the Asian Business Leadership Forum Awards.
- November 2000- Conferred Man of the Century award by Chemtech Foundation and Chemical Engineering World in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the growth and development of the chemical industry in India.
- 2000, 1998 and 1996 – Featured among Power 50-the most powerful people in Asia by Asia week magazine.
- June 1998 – “Dean’s Medal” by The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, for setting an outstanding example of leadership. Dhirubhai Ambani has the rare distinction of being the first Indian to get Wharton School Dean’s Medal.
- August 2001 – Economic Times AwardsÃ‚Â for Corporate Excellence for Lifetime Achievement.
- Dhirubhai Ambani was named the “Man of 20th Century” by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, (FICCI).
- A poll conducted by The Times of India in 2000 voted him “Greatest Creator of Wealth in the Centuries”.