From a simple man with big dreams to a Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha); my journey has not been easy. Nevertheless, I believe I realized my ambition riding on the back of perseverance. And with blessings from Lord Dwarkadheesh.
A disastrous debut as an entrepreneur
After the completion of graduation from the University of Mumbai; I earned my doctorate in management from the National Institute of Management. Next was to look for a suitable profession and I found myself working in the bleaching department of New Era Mills. The lessons learnt didn’t go in vain and I established a soap agency in Mumbai. However, it wasn’t a flattering debut-my first stint as an entrepreneur was a disaster. Stock market was a natural transition in the quest of a bull run. Harshad Mehta scam ushered in a bear market. Once gain my aspirations to set the cash registers ringing didn’t translate to reality. However, I believe that man is the architect of his destiny and patience is a virtue, which seldom disappoints. After a cheerless debut as an entrepreneur; success found me. Apart from my tenacious comportment; it was my incorruptible faith in God, which helped me wade through troubled waters.
The Course of my Life Changed
In 1995; something unusual happened; which, changed the course of my life-forever. I met Dhirajlal Hirachand Ambani. It was a crucial year for the Ambanis. The largest greenfield refinery at Moti Khavdi in Jamnagar was in the pipeline. The biggest obstacle was to be negotiated- peaceful land acquisition.
I came, I saw and I conquered
Acquiring 10,000 acres of land with farmers’ consent seemed impossible, nevertheless, I pursued. On the one hand, Reliance was required to build infrastructural and ancillary facilities. On the other hand the land had to be acquired before the prices escalated sensing the presence of corporate giant-Reliance. Nevertheless, our efforts paid dividends and we could acquire 10,000 acres along with 400 properties on ownership basis and 1,200 properties on lease.
The refinery was commissioned on 14, July 1999. Dhirubhai’s dream was realized.
Currently, it is the largest refinery in the world with an installed capacity of 668,000 barrels per day. I was fortunate that I was able to navigate through a sea of hurdles-unprecedented.
Jamnagar’s landscape underwent a cosmetic change with the refinery being operational. It transformed into a Special Economic Zone.
After Jamnagar; Ahmedabad was my next stop. It was 1997. The business conglomerate grew in stature and that meant bigger responsibilities. Several projects were green-lighted and completed with me at the helm.
I was now the face of Reliance in Gujarat.
It was January 2001. Gujarat was devastated by an earthquake of mammoth proportions. A call from Dhirubhai brought me to Kutch. Relief and rehabilitation followed. I supervised medical camps and construction of earthquake-resistant buildings of several government agencies across Kutch.
A herculean task was completed within 45 days.
It wasn’t the first time though; I had arranged for generator-sets ensuring uninterrupted power supply to government hospitals of Jamnagar and Jam Khambalia; my birth place; when cyclone ravaged Gujarat in 1998.
I have been associated with RRDT a corporate NGO; as a Chairman. Its exemplary synergy with the Government has reconfigured the rural scenario. The NGO has touched upon 5923 villages of Gujarat and has created 7896 facilities expensing Rs. 303.69 crore. The facilities include village roads (1,603), village panchayat offices (741), community-halls (1,507) anganwadis (pre-nursery schools: 3, 798), check-dams (39) and water-storage tanks (208), among others.
A Krishna devotee
I believe that there’s a divinity that shapes our end. My reverence for Lord Krishna is triggered from this belief. Riding on the back of this belief I have devised sustainable projects for religious towns like Dwarka and Shri Nathdwara.
A calendar on a single theme of Dwarka and Dwarkadheesh every year is a humble offering that provides spiritual succor to devotees. A booklet on Bhagvad Geeta with selected verses in Sanskrit with their meaning in English and Gujarati is another spiritual relief for a Dwarkadheesh loyalist.
My camaraderie with musical maestros like Pandit Jasraj, Ashit Desai, Manhar Udhas, Soli Kapadia and Lalitya Munshaw, among others have reflected my disposition, aptitude and inclination for classics and melodies of spiritual and devotional music.
A Quantum Jump
Veterans like Mr. B.K. Gadhvi, Mr. Sagar Rayka, Mr. Chiman Mehta and Mr. Ramjibhai Mavani, among others were my mentors in Jam Khambalia. They inspired me to voice my concern for causes related to Jamnagar and Saurashtra on bigger platforms. Apart from this, I have enjoyed my stint as a freelance journalist in Gujarati dailies’ Samkalin and Madhyantar, among others. My membership in Telephone Advisory Committee and Railway’s DRUCC, among others has earned me the title of ‘Voice of Saurashtra’-something cherished by my peers and me.
Nevertheless, winning the prestigious Rajya Sabha seat in March 2008, is a personal milestone. An alien land for me; Ranchi encapsulated India’s dichotomy in the real sense of the word. At the risk of sounding immodest, I must admit that I am the first Rajya Sabha MP to live my promise by establishing an office in the region.