Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Tale of Mukesh Ambani

"In the last century, Mohandas K. Gandhi was India's most famous and
powerful private citizen. Today, Mr. Ambani is widely regarded as
playing that role, though in a very different way. Like Mr. Gandhi,
Mr. Ambani belongs to a merchant caste known as the modh banias, is a
vegetarian and a teetotaler and is a revolutionary thinker with bold
ideas for what India ought to become. Yet Mr. Gandhi was a scrawny
ascetic, a champion of the village, a skeptic of modernity and a man
focused on spiritual purity. Mr. Ambani is a fleshy oligarch, a
champion of the city, a burier of the past and a man who deftly — and,
some critics say, ruthlessly — wields financial power. He is the
richest person in India, with a fortune estimated in the tens of
billions of dollars, and many people here expect that he will be the
richest person on earth before long," says a profile of Mukesh Ambani
one of the world's richest people in the New York Times today.

Wow to be compared to Gandhi, that is something, isn't for a man who
is building the worlds most expensive, extravagant, and elaborate home
in Mumbai. (See my earlier post

""Can we really banish abject poverty in this country?" he mused aloud
in a rare interview at his headquarters here. "Yes, in 10, 15 years we
can say we would have done that substantially. Can we make sure that
we create a social structure where we remove untouchability? We're
fast moving to a new India where you don't think about this caste and
that caste."

As millions of Indians graduate from burning cow dung for energy to
guzzling oil, Reliance is plowing billions of dollars into energy
exploration and is building the world's largest oil refinery. It has
also opened a chain of nearly 700 stores selling food and various
wares; Mr. Ambani promises that it will funnel money from the
flourishing cities into the struggling agricultural heartland. He
envisions Reliance, with $39 billion in revenue, as providing incomes
to 12 million to 30 million Indians within the next five years by
buying from farmers and employing new workers in its stores.

And as Mumbai, Mr. Ambani's hometown and the commercial and
entertainment capital of India, has grown ever more populous and ever
less livable, he has proposed that Reliance simply build a new,
improved city across the harbor," says this very interesting article
about an even more interesting man.

Read the full article at--

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