India’s most valuable company Reliance Industries was once fined for producing more than its licensed capacity, its owner and richest Indian Mukesh Ambani said on Monday as he pitched for a push to manufacturing to make the country ‘Aatmanirbhar’ or self-reliant.
“Just like we have start-ups in the technology sector, I think India is ripe now to support small and medium entrepreneurs and get them the physical start up.
“So we need as much thinking about bricks as we have about clicks,” he said.
Speaking at the launch of the book ‘Portraits of Power’ by N K Singh, Ambani said Jio is answer to his father Dhirubhai’s query long back on whether ‘every Indian could speak with each other at the cost of a postcard’.
“My father was a son of a schoolteacher who came to the city of Mumbai to live the Indian dream in 1960.
“And he came with Rs 1,000 and a belief that if you invest in businesses of the future and in talent, we can create our own Indian dream, and we can create one of the largest enterprises or companies in the world,” he said.
Dhirubhai’s Reliance Industries is today India’s most valuable company that spans from energy to textiles, retail and telecom.
“There was a time when Reliance was show-caused by the government and penalised for producing more than its licensed capacity,” Ambani said, referring to the pre-liberalisation permit era.
After the economic reforms of 1991, India today incentivises production.
“And everything that we do today is linked to production and more production.
“So that is how much mindsets have changed,” he said.
Until the economic reforms of 1990s, “we used to struggle to create every 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 tonnes of polyester capacity,” he said.
And now India is among the top two polyester producers in the world.
“Even during the COVID crisis we could manufacture PPEs in the shortest possible time,” he added.
On the company’s telecom foray, he said the roadmap was to make calling cheaper than the price of a postcard.
“Today it is free. And as we migrate to the future, it will not only connect people but also billions of things,” he emphasised.
Ambani further said his group is working towards transformation of India into a digital society which will incorporate all the future industries.
In the next few decades, India has to move away from fossil fuels to completely renewable energy and “be Aatmanirbhar (self-reliant),” he said.
The aim of Reliance is to “make our modest contribution in terms of development of India and in energy also development of the world in terms of this transition,” he said.
“If I can play my small part in actually achieving this and create institutions that will perpetuate and sustain that, than I would have done my Job. I don’t know whether I will succeed or not,” he added.
Ambani also said India needs to rethink and reinvent manufacturing.
“…we need to think in terms of an entire ecosystem that delivers the future industries and future services,” Ambani said.
Photograph: Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters