Dhirubhai Ambani was instrumental in shaping ‘equity cult’ in India. In the ’60s and ’70s, the equity market in India was preserve of an exclusive class of rich businessmen and brokers. Dhirubhai pulled down the walls of the rich man’s fortress, involved millions of middle-class Indians and showed them a new avenue of investment and earning. Banks and financial institutions refused lend kind money Dhirubhai wanted for his projects. He came up with Initial Public Offering (IPO) in 1977 which was oversubscribed. What was small investors’ gain was a loss to FIs. More than 58,000 retail investors across the country subscribed to the IPO. It was all made possible through trust he built for himself and Reliance.
Dhirubhai tapped the bottom of the pyramid for funds, just when most business houses were turning to state-owned financial institutions like the then Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI) or Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India (ICICI), to fund expansion plans. His faith in the retail investor also gave a leg-up to Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and its 30-share sensitive index, Sensex. Lured by Reliance’s power to deliver dividends and higher stock prices, thousands of retail investors flocked to the market.
He always believed in creating wealth for the investors through taking share prices up instead of just paying high dividends. This is the reason, why many small investors still worship him as a God. There are hundreds of examples where the common people fulfilled social obligations like marriage of their children or paying fees for education after getting high returns on investment in Reliance shares. Similarly, he showed the Indian corporates how to raise funds at cheaper rates using Global Depository Receipts in 1992. Moreover, he was the first one from Asia to issue 50 and 100 years bond in US debt market in 1997.
Dhirubhai Ambani’s vision took India’s petroleum and petrochemical scenario to a new height. India was net importer of fuels before Reliance set up oil refinery at Jamnagar. With setting up the world’s largest single location refinery at Jamnagar, India overnight turned exporter of petroleum products.
History of Indian telecommunication sector is incomplete without Dhirubhai and Reliance Group. Dhirubhai’s thinking process revolved around common men. Dhirubhai Ambani had made it clear to his project planners that if mobile can make common man talk at a cost of post card (@ 40 p. at that time) then only you enter the field. At a time when other operators were charging Rs6 per minute’s talk, Mukeshbhai’s Reliance Infocomm created history by actually revolutionizing mobile telephones in terms of cost and reach with its aggressive marketing and pricing strategy at that time exactly the way Dhirubhai wished.
Following his ideology, Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (RJIL) plans to enable end-to-end solutions that address the entire value chain across various digital services in key domains of national interest such as, education, healthcare, security, financial services, government-citizen interfaces and entertainment. It aims to create a digital ecosystem which can be used to benefit the government, the industry and, above all, the people of this country.
Visionary Dhirubhai recognized versatility of polyester fiber in textile industry, when other textile giants were focusing on rayon, nylon, etc.
Dhirubhai Ambani won many awards and accolades from prestigious media houses and institutions. His achieves include the ‘Man of the Century’ award by Chemtech Foundation and Chemical Engineering World in November 2000, ‘Indian Entrepreneur of the 20th Century’ award by FICCI in March 2000, Thrice (2000, 1998 and 1996) nomination in the ‘Power 50 – the most powerful people in Asia’ category by Asiaweek magazine, ‘Creator of Wealth’ of the Century in The Times of India poll, January 2000 and the Dean’s Medal by The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania in June 1998 to name only a few. Though the list is unending, it is still felt that Dhirubhai Ambani’s worth is yet to get the kind of acknowledgement he deserved.