Is it a rag to riches story, the story of Dhirubhai Ambani ? In fact it was a not-even-a-rag to super riches one. A Gujarati boy from a poverty-stricken family, trying to sell sweetmeats outside the temple, finding the job of a helper in a petrol filling station, a petty clerk in a small business shop… And this was the beginning of Dhirajlal Hirachand Ambani, more popular as Dhirubhai Ambani, whose Reliance Group of Industries brought about a great revolution in the industrial and economic spheres of India, marking an asset of around Rs.90,000 Crores at the time of his death. And his business empire covered not only textiles from which he began his conquest, but areas like petro-chemicals, energy and telecom.
It is not the whole story. Ambani's Reliance Industries popularized the world of share market among Indians. He changed the face of sports too, by dragging the Cricket for the World Cup out of England and made it the most commercialized and popular sport in India. But his dramatic movement was pushing the Tatas and Birlas, India's traditional greats, backwards in India's trade, commerce and industry. This he achieved with his astuteness, capacity to work hard and industriousness. He was chosen as one of the tallest 500 businessmen in the world of 20th century.
Chorwad, a backward hamlet in Gujarat, was where Ambani was born in 1932 in a poor family. When he was 17, he managed to reach Yemen, an oil-rich country, in search of a living. He found a job there as a helper in a petrol filling station, then as a clerk and thus made some money enough to return to India.
In 1958, he set up a small business firm which he named 'Reliance Commercial Corporation'. And that was the beginning of the formation of one of the noted business empire in the world. He began with exporting spices and importing polyester fibre. In 1966 he founded a textile mill near Ahmedabad and afterwards he never had to look back. In 1977 he entered the stock market and the brand name 'Reliance' attracted the attention everywhere. 1980s were the golden period of the Ambani empire.
Dhirubhai Ambani breathed his last in 2002, leaving the vast empire to his sons, Mukesh and Anil.