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Cover Story
 

The Rise of Reliance
Parimal Nathwani, Group President (Corp. Affairs), RIL, & a Rajya Sabha member, highlights some high-points in the company’s journey in the past three decades
Issue Date - 16/02/2012
 
The story of Dhirubhai Ambani and Reliance for that matter began in a humble way but metamorphosed into an awesome history. ‘Growth is Life’ is the tag line of Reliance since its inception and it continues to be an ever-rising firm on a growth trajectory.

The unusual speed with which Reliance grew in the pre-liberalisation era (and thereafter) surprised many. Innovation, vision, strategy, technology, scale and volumes, and speed of execution are the factors responsible for the success of Reliance since 1982. At a time when only a few private business houses could think of making it big in many sectors in the country, Dhirubhai proved that it was indeed possible.

Since the early 1980s till date, it has been quite a ride for all those at Reliance. Even those who watched the company grow from close quarters – as onlookers or shareholders – have only enjoyed the sight of the company growing in leaps. And Dhirubhai began it all.

He was a man who started with a meager capital of Rs.15,000 and became the first Indian to issue $150 million worth of Global Depositary Receipts of Reliance in the international capital markets in 1992. Reliance under Mukesh Ambani today has become a company with a net worth of Rs.2,670 billion ($54 billion) as of January 31, 2012.

Dhirubhai would never rest on his laurels. He would always think ahead and quickly take up a new project once he ensured the stability of the project on hand. He was uncommon among commoners. He created a world-class textile mill in Ahmedabad around the time when shutters were being pulled down on most of the mills. He opted for polyester when his contemporaries were busy in nylon and rayon. He was different!

Dhirubhai’s adoption of vertical backward integration strategy in his core business is much talked about. He initiated Reliance’s backward integration journey from textiles into polyester fibres and further into petrochemicals, petroleum refining and going up-stream into oil and gas exploration and production. He did it so well that he became a name to reckon with in whatever he did.

I remember, in December 1999, Dhirubhai took a decision to make Reliance’s Jamnagar refinery the world’s largest operational refinery at a single location. In 2008, his elder son, Mukesh Ambani, fulfilled Dhirubhai’s dream by commissioning another refinery adjacent to the already existing refinery. It indeed became the world’s single-largest hub for refinery products.

In the past decade, the work of Mukesh Ambani in making India’s telecom dream come alive cannot be ignored either. Reliance’s telecom business was his brainchild and with that, he fulfilled another of his father’s dream – that of empowering every Indian to talk to anyone within India, on the phone, at the rate of a post card!

Today, Reliance continues to rise. Its forays into exploration and production of gas and oil, retail, life sciences, and 4G communication et al, speak about the rise of Reliance in the post-Dhirubhai era. All along, I might have only sounded positive about Reliance’s journey during the past three decades, but that’s the script of the tale written and directed by visionary leaders like Dhirubhai and Mukesh. Don’t believe me? Go ask any shareholder who owns RIL shares today!

 

Angshuman Paul           

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