11 April, 2021

The King And His Realm

Dhirubhai Ambani, maverick tycoon, will leave behind in Reliance a business empire even bigger than him

The King And His Realm
The news spread like wildfire, and within hours, as India's most successful businessman fought for his life, Mumbai's Breach Candy Hospital became a gathering ground of the who's who of the country. Politicians, industrialists, film stars—it seemed as if there was no one whose life Dhirubhai Hirachand Ambani had not touched. Perhaps the greatest tribute to the man was paid by a businessman who has known him closely. "If the doctors can just get him back to his senses, Dhirubhai will pull through," he said. "We have faith in his willpower."

Willpower is something the boy from Chorwad village in Gujarat, who set off for Aden at the age of 17 to seek his fortune and ended up creating a Rs 60,000 crore group, India's largest business house, has in abundance. Venilal Estates Building, 3A, in Mumbai's congested Bhuleshwar, remains the nondescript five-storey chawl—surrounded by saree shops and handcart vendors—that it was in the '60s when the seven-member Ambani clan lived there with a family friend in a tiny one-bedroom flat. The Ambanis moved on. Says elderly Ramchandra...

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