Few men in history have made as dramatic a contribution to their country’s economic fortunes as did the founder of Reliance, Sh. Dhirubhai H Ambani. Fewer still have left behind a legacy that is more enduring and timeless.
As with all great pioneers, there is more than one unique way of describing the true genius of Dhirubhai: the corporate visionary, the unmatched strategist, the proud patriot, the leader of men, the architect of India’s capital markets, the champion of shareholder interest.
But the role Dhirubhai cherished most was perhaps that of India’s greatest wealth creator. In one lifetime, he built, starting from the proverbial scratch, India’s largest private sector enterprise.
When Dhirubhai embarked on his first business venture, he had a seed capital of barely US$ 300 (around Rs 14,000). Over the next three and a half decades, he converted this fledgling enterprise into a Rs 60,000 crore colossus—an achievement which earned Reliance a place on the global Fortune 500 list, the first ever Indian private company to do so.
Dhirubhai is widely regarded as the father of India’s capital markets. In 1977, when Reliance Textile Industries Limited first went public, the Indian stock market was a place patronised by a small club of elite investors which dabbled in a handful of stocks.
Undaunted, Dhirubhai managed to convince a large number of first-time retail investors to participate in the unfolding Reliance story and put their hard-earned money in the Reliance Textile IPO, promising them, in exchange for their trust, substantial return on their investments. It was to be the start of one of great stories of mutual respect and reciprocal gain in the Indian markets.
Under Dhirubhai’s extraordinary vision and leadership, Reliance scripted one of the greatest growth stories in corporate history anywhere in the world, and went on to become India’s largest private sector enterprise.
Through out this amazing journey, Dhirubhai always kept the interests of the ordinary shareholder uppermost in mind, in the process making millionaires out of many of the initial investors in the Reliance stock, and creating one of the world’s largest shareholder families.
The late Dhirubhai Ambani dreamt of a digital India — an India where the common man would have access to affordable means of information and communication. Dhirubhai, who single-handedly built India’s largest private sector company virtually from scratch, had stated as early as 1999: “Make the tools of information and communication available to people at an affordable cost. They will overcome the handicaps of illiteracy and lack of mobility.”
It was with this belief in mind that Reliance Communications (formerly Reliance Infocomm) started laying 60,000 route kilometres of a pan-India fibre optic backbone. This backbone was commissioned on 28 December 2002, the auspicious occasion of Dhirubhai’s 70th birthday, though sadly after his unexpected demise on 6 July 2002.
Reliance Communications has a reliable, high-capacity, integrated (both wireless and wireline) and convergent (voice, data and video) digital network. It is capable of delivering a range of services spanning the entire infocomm (information and communication) value chain, including infrastructure and services — for enterprises as well as individuals, applications, and consulting.
Today, Reliance Communications is revolutionising the way India communicates and networks, truly bringing about a new way of life.
Dhirubhai preached — and personally practised — one mantra throughout his life: Dream with conviction.
He built the Reliance empire from scratch and, in a short span of 25 years, it catapulted to become one of the top Fortune 500 corporations of the world — an achievement unparalleled in history.
He was deeply rooted in traditional Indian values, and at the same time, Dhirubhai possessed a very modern outlook - truly that of a 21st century person. His corporate philosophy was short, simple and incredibly effective: “Think big. Think different. Think fast. Think ahead. Aim for the best.” This was clearly reflected in his passion for mega-sized projects, as well as his fascination for cutting-edge technology and desire to always achieve the highest possible productivity. At Reliance, Dhirubhai was a pillar of inspiration for one and all. By practicing what he preached, he inspired and encouraged everyone to surpass the best in the world.
Dhirubhai fully realised that true empowerment of the people is possible only through education. Being an effective communicator, he continued to inspire, guide, educate and motivate everyone through his communications. He was a firm believer in the power of information and communication, and how it can be utilised and turned to the advantage of one and all, by making time and distance irrelevant.
He would always say that if a telephone call could be made cheaper than a postcard, it would transform every home, empower every Indian, remove every obstacle to opportunity and growth, and tear apart every barrier that divides Indian society. He was convinced that infocom could energise enterprises, drive governance, and render learning an interesting experience, apart from making life exciting.
Keeping his conviction as our credo, Reliance Communications is committed to transform Dhirubhai’s dream into a reality.
On 28th December 2002, Ministry of Communications, Government of India released a commemorative postage stamp on industrialist and founder of the Reliance Group of Industries, Shri Dhirubhai Ambani in Mumbai. Issued by the Department of Posts, the stamp is in the denomination of Rs. 5.