Today the economy, the portrait – Reliance: Mukesh Ambani, the insatiable Indian tycoon


Involved in textiles in its early days, Reliance diversified into hydrocarbons and chemicals, then into energy transition. Reliance is also involved in mass distribution. And now, one of its flagship brands is the telecom company Jio.  » Today they are synonymous with all things technology », emphasizes Pooja Jain, researcher attached to the Asia Center.  » Information technology, 4G, 5G, etc. He has the grand ambition to equip India with 5G by the end of the year. »

Mukesh Ambani has made a name for himself in this market thanks to very attractive commercial offers at the expense of several competitors, including his brother Anil, with whom he tore to take over from their father., Dhirubhai Ambani, founder of Reliance. Their mother had to split the group to end the dispute.

Legacy and expansion

Mukesh Ambani is therefore the heir ofa company founded after the colonial era, which distinguishes it from other large Indian groups. But it would be simplistic to consider it solely through this prism, believes Arhundati Virmani, historian of India at Ehess: “ He assisted his father when he returned from studying business management at Stanford. He helped his father to start the factory for the production of polyester. So he participated, he witnessed this great change in the fortunes of his family, which was of fairly modest origin. Mukesh Ambani was able to develop and diversify the activities of this company on a very large scale at the national level and a little outside India through his collaborations. » Like Meta and Google who have invested in Jio.

Unlike his brother Anil, Mukesh Ambani was able to make his business prosper.

« He is someone who works a lot, in detail, in the files, points Arhundati Virmani to explain what, in his opinion, made the success of Mukesh Ambani. It’s not a flamboyant face like his brother who had a slightly more worldly dimension. »

The success of Reliance would not be unrelated either to a certain proximity to power. Mukesh Ambani, whose family is from Gujarat, like Narendra Modi, has many points of convergence with the Prime Minister.

 » Both affirm their desire to see the Indian economy grow, they want to reduce India’s dependence on imports, relates Arhundati Virmani. They believe in technological development. They want India to become the world’s third largest economy. So it’s the same mantra. »

Good relations with power which are not new. Dhirubhai Ambani, father of Mukesh Ambani and founder of Reliance, was close to the Congress party, now in opposition.

 » Reliance Industries, since his father’s time, was known for a certain flexibility, an ability to maneuver « , to make sure «  the political support of the government of the day, says Pooja Jain. They have always been able to mobilize the various resources, whether technological, to obtain import licenses, to obtain financial resources from banks. Competitors at the time failed to do the same. »

“Our mission: to make India prosperous »

If he embodies Reliance today, Mukesh Ambani, 65, presented his succession, with a distribution of the empire between his three children. Each invests in one of the three branches. But Mukesh Ambani does not intend to withdraw immediately, he who still has great ambitions for his company.

«  Reliance will continue to grow bigger and biggerhe promised on ‘Reliance Family Day’ in December 2022. Like the legendary Banyan Tree, its branches will spread further and further, its roots will sink deeper and it will affect the lives of ever greater numbers of Indians. He will enrich them, emancipate them, nourish them and care for them. Our mission is to make India prosperous. »

27-storey residence

Prosperous, he is in any case. ThereThe fortune of India’s second richest man is estimated by Forbes at $88 billion. The owner of the Mumbai Indians cricket team seven had a 27-story residence built. And despite the inequalities in the country, Pooja Jain explains that the Indians accept his empire. Undoubtedly due to the attachment to their entrepreneurial spirit, to the spirit of work Pooja Jain says. From a more sociological point of view. «  He’s supposed to be a vegetarian, he doesn’t drink alcohol. So he kind of benefits from a healthy image. »

Mukesh Ambani was nevertheless one of the personalities who crystallized peasant anger during the 2020-2021 agricultural reform. The effigy of the billionaire was then burned.


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