13 April, 2021

Ambaniesque Grandiose

Unlike the past, Reliance is now eyeing the high stakes of the information superhighway

Ambaniesque Grandiose
During a casual conversation in his chamber one sultry afternoon, Reliance patriarch Dhirubhai Ambani asked a newly-recruited employee what would shape business growth across the seven seas in the new millennium. The employee, knowing Reliance's core competence in oil and gas, replied: "Energy." To which, Ambani's cryptic remark was just two words: "Wrong. Communication." Communication? Yes, said Ambani, the number of households in India which have a television set is far higher than those who have an access to safe drinking water.

This conversation took place about a decade ago, at a time when the country's largest private company remained completely focused on its petrochemical business and tom-tommed how it was building its Jamnagar refinery, one of the world's largest, in record time.

But, then, for years, Reliance did not seem too serious about the business. Its much-hyped foray into the media business petered out. Its satellite telephony project did not take off. In cellular telephony, it focused only on the north-eastern states. On the way, the group also...

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