Project Outline

The idea is to trace the progress in Ambani's life (with years or dates) in acquiring immense wealth and to find out

  1. Factors responsible for Ambani's accomplishment.
  2. Any striking incidents that illustrate the magnitude of the accomplishment or typify the personality of Ambani.
  3. Any information on Ambani's beliefs, personality, major events at which he acted, his values.

Research Information


  • Dhirubhai Ambani is referred as India's "Businessman of the Century". Founder of Reliance Group India.


  • Dhirubhai Ambani (Dhirajlal Hirachand Ambani) was born on 28 December 1932, at Chorwad, Junagadh in the now state of Gujarat (India).
  • Parents Name: Hirachand Gordhanbhai Ambani and Jamnaben.


  • Dhirubhai was the second son of a school teacher and started his entrepreneurial career by selling "pakora" to pilgrims in Mount Girnar.
  • At the age of 17, Dhirubhai went to Aden (now part of Yemen) and worked for A. Besse & Co. Ltd., the sole selling distributor of Shell products.
  • Two years later Dhirubhai was promoted to manage the company’s filling station at the port of Aden.
  • In the year 1958,Dhirubhai Ambani returned to Mumbai and started his first company, Reliance Commercial Corporation, a commodity trading and export house.
  • The first office was set up at the Narsinathan Street in Masjid Bunder. It was a 350 partnership with Champaklal Damani.
  • In the year 1965, Dhirubhai Ambani started his own company.
  • In the year 1966, as a first step in Reliance's highly successful strategy of backward integration, he started the textile mill in Naroda, Ahmedabad.
  • Textiles were manufactured using polyester fibre yarn. Dhirubhai started the brand "Vimal".
  • Dhirubhai diversified his business with the core specialisation being in petrochemicals and additional interests in telecommunications, information technology, energy, power, retail, textiles, infrastructure services, capital markets, and logistics.
  • In the year 1975, a technical team from the World Bank certified that the Reliance textile plant was "excellent by developed country standards".
  • The company went public in 1997. The group is credited with a number of financial innovations in the Indian capital market. Today the group has the largest family of shareholders in the world.
  • With an investment of Rs 360 billion in petroleum refining, petrochemicals, power generation, telecommunication services and a port terminal in a three-year time frame, the late Dhirubhai Ambani had steered the Group to its current status as India's leading textiles-petrochemicals-telecommunications player.
  • Reliance Group is India's largest business house with total revenues of over Rs 600 billion, cash flow of Rs 70 billion, net profit of Rs 45 billion and exports of Rs 93.70 billion.
  • The company as a whole was described by the BBC as "a business empire with an estimated annual turnover of $12bn, and an 85,000-strong workforce” in the year 2002.

The Dhirubhai Way

  • Being a Kathiawari, Dhirubhai was endowed with sharp business acumen and a spirit of adventure. But more than this in-born trait, there were three characteristics that set Dhirubhai apart in the conservative world of Indian business.
  • First, his phenomenal risk-taking ability that was far higher than other contemporary businessmen. He was a born risk-taker and believed in taking on and managing calculated risks.It is this same risk-taking ability that helped him when he ventured into textile manufacturing in 1966 within a year of buying out his original partner in the yarn business, Champaklal Damani. Ditto when he ventured into the backward integration project of setting up a plant to produce fiber intermediate, purified terephthalic acid (PTA) in the mid-80s — he was taking on established businesses and businessmen. In fact, much of his fund-raising for the large capital-intensive projects that his group was involved in the 80s and 90s was underlined by tremendous risk.
  • Second was his firm belief that business is nothing but a web of relationships and obligations.
  • He believed in proactive moves rather than reacting to Government policy which is what his contemporaries were doing. This capacity to “manage the environment” would be responsible for the dark spots that any chronicler of the Reliance group’s evolution would encounter.

Benefits to the society

  • Dhirubhai introduced innovative funding strategies such as the ingeniously designed triple option convertible debentures for the refinery project. The projects generated tremendous number of jobs, by themselves and in downstream sectors. The petrochemicals project made the country almost self-sufficient in plastics and synthetic fiber even as the refinery obviated petroleum product imports.
  • To Indian middle-class salary-earners, Dhirubhai held out the promise of instant enrichment through the stock market. But he was no fly-by-night operator: Reliance shares offered genuine value, and those fortunate enough to have had faith in the company in the early years eventually became millionaires. Annual general meetings were held in sports stadiums where Dhirubhai would be treated by shareholders with adulation and even reverence.
  • Dhirubhai was also anxious to encourage the spread of information technology among India’s poor. Through Reliance Industries he arranged computer education and training for thousands of students in schools in Bombay. “You are getting an opportunity. Make the best use of it,” he told children in December during one of his last public speeches. “Be daring. Think big. You can be the best. If you believe in this, you will be the best.

End of an era

  • The final phase of Reliance’s diversification occurred in the 1990s when the company turned aggressively towards petrochemicals and telecommunications. But, like most business people, Dhirubhai had rivals, the most bitter of whom was Nusli Wadia, of Bombay Dyeing, a patrician entrepreneur whose company was well established in the textile industry.
  • For the year ended March 1991, Reliance Industries is understood to have recorded a sales turnover of Rs. 2,300 crores (more than US $ 1 billion), making it the third largest private corporation in the country to day. Those who predicted that he was a conman, a confidence trickster, have had to eat their words. “ I am the double that burst!” chortles Dhirubhai, sarcastically referring to the negative headlines that greeted his forays into the primary capital market in the early- 1980s.
  • Reliance was also the first Indian company to successfully tap the Global Depository Receipt (GDR) market in 1992. It is also the only Indian company to raise 50 and 100 year bonds in the U.S. debt markets. Thus, it successfully raised cheaper funds overseas with lower borrowing costs to repay higher cost Indian borrowings.
  • The Passing away of Dhirubhai Ambani, Chairman of the Reliance group on July 6 2002, signals the end of an era in Indian corporate history.
  • Wife: Kokilaben.Four children : two sons Mukesh and Anil, and two daughters, Dipti Salgaocar who lives in Goa and Nina Kothari who resides in Chennai.
  • Mukesh Ambani, the current chairman of the Reliance group, and Anil Ambani, the vice chairman.


  • Voted India's 'Top Businessman' in the 'Best of India' poll conducted by Zee News, August 2003.
  • Reliance is the only Indian private company to make the Fortune 500 list of the world’s largest corporations, and Dhirubhai Ambani was listed by Forbes as the 138th richest person in the world in 2002.
  • Petrotech Society conferred posthumously the 'Lifetime Achievement Award' for his outstanding contribution to Downstream Petroleum Industry in India, January 2003.
  • Rated as one of 'India's Most Admired CEOs' for the fourth consecutive year in the Business Barons - Taylor Nelson Sofres - Mode Survey, July 2002.
  • Conferred the 'Lifetime Achievement Award' by India HRD Congress, February 2002.
  • Conferred 'The Economic Times Award for Corporate Excellence for Lifetime Achievement', August 2001.
  • Awarded the Companion Membership of the Textile Institute, UK, an award which is limited to 50 living members who have "substantially advanced the general interests of the industries based on fibres", 1994
  • Chosen as 'Star of Asia' by Business Week, USA, June 1998.
  • Awarded the Dean's Medal by The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, for setting an outstanding example of leadership, June 1998.

Reasons for Success

  • Dream big but dream with your eyes opens. His phenomenal achievement showed India that limitations were only in the mind.
  • One of his phenomenal is risk-taking ability.
  • Not only did he dream big, he taught all of us to do so too. “Make Vimal’s advertising the benchmark for fashion advertising in the country.” This line was quoted by Dhirubhai Ambani.
  • Inspiration coupled with hard work and the “can-do” spirit can take one to great heights. One of the main reasons for his success.