A true rags-to-riches story, Dhirajlal Hirachand Ambani, has been undisputedly India’s most enterprising entrepreneur. Born in a gujarati family Dhirubai moved toYemen at the age of 16, where he worked as a dispatch clerk with A. Besse & Co.
After working in Dubai for sometime he later returned to India where he founded the Reliance Commercial Corporation with a meager capital of Rs. 15000. He set up the business in partnership with Champaklal Damani from whom he split in 1965.
Dhirubhai started his first textile mill at Naroda, near Ahmedabad and launched the brand “Vimal”. He later diversified into petrochemicals and sectors like Telecommunications, Information Technology, Energy, Power, Retail, Textiles, Capital Markets and Logistics.
He rose from humble beginnings to create India’s largest industrial empire, and in the process, became one of the world’s richest men. He rewrote India’s corporate history for which he was featured among the select Forbes billionaires list. He also figured in the Sunday Times list of top 50 businessmen in Asia.
Credited for starting the equity cult in India, Dhirubhai was praised for his key role in shaping India’s stock market culture by attracting hordes of retail investors to a market monopolized by state-run financial institutions.
He never followed the traditional way and was often targeted for his business strategies due to which he courted controversy all throughout his life. The ‘Dhirubhai school of management’ firmly believed that the only thing which mattered were the end results and the benefits which infiltrated directly to the shareholders.
He won many awards and accolades during his lifetime. In 2000, he was conferred the ‘Man of the Century’ award by Chemtech Foundation and Chemical Engineering World for his contribution to the growth and development of the chemical industry in India. In 1998, he was awarded the Dean’s Medal by The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, for setting an outstanding example of leadership. Dhirubhai Ambani was also named the “Man of 20th Century” by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
A perfect amalgamation of grit and determination, Dhirubai believed in his dreams and he lived it. He was of the belief “Dhirubhai will go one day. But Reliance’s employees and shareholders will keep it afloat. Reliance is now a concept in which the Ambanis have become irrelevant.”
In 1986 after a severe heart stroke he handed over Reliance Group to his sons Mukesh and Anil. After his death, the colossal corporate group was split into Reliance Industries, headed by Mukesh Ambani and Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG), led by Anil Ambani.
A visionary by birth, his life has been an inspiration for many and will serve as a beacon light for the generations to come.