Republic Summit: Mukesh Ambani On His Optimism For India, Data, Entrepreneurship And Challenges, In Conversation With Arnab Goswami


Reliance Industries' Mukesh Ambani has spoken to Republic TV's Editor-In-Chief Arnab Goswami on several things from his own optimism about the country, the transparency for data, on the next big disruption in the world and much more. Here is the full text from their interaction

Written By Apoorva Rao | Mumbai | Updated On:

Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) Chairman Mukesh Ambani answered questions posed to him by Republic TV's Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami on Wednesday, following his keynote address at the Republic Summit. He spoke about a number of things, including his own optimism about the country, data, the next big disruption in the world and much more. 

Why Mukesh Ambani is optimistic

"Reliance was around a million dollars in size when I joined. We have been a perpetual startup. I can realise what an entrepreneur goes through. This country should produce 100s not 1000s of Dhirubhais (reference to his late father and founder of Reliance).

He used to say, what we can learn from others - Agar soch badloge toh kismat badlegi, If you change your mindset you will change your fortune. I feel younger when I am around 30-year-olds.  

We have to understand that we are entering an era.  We have grown up in a linear era. In that, we grow up by 1-2-3 steps. In an exponential era, we go from 1- 2 to 10 steps, so it is a good time for India to embrace these technologies and embrace the power of the youth. I see a new mindset and power of youth and also a lot of problems. An entrepreneur finds a big problem and solves it. 

Western friends say India is a country with a  million problems. I say India is a country of a billion opportunies. And these opportunities can be seen. And that is the reason for my optimism.

Let’s not forget that in 1991 we were at $350 billion (size of economy) now we are nearing $3 trillion. To get there in two decades is a long shot but we got there."

On transparency for data:

Real right of a corporation is exactly like a bank. That they can’t take your money kept in their locker and and gamble it in the share market and  give back only some of it. Fundamentally your data is yours. I have to be transparent and share the data with you. 

India is in the era where this is happening and India can lead others in world. I strongly feel about the data ownership. It is for small merchants, small businesses, even large businesses. My business data should be my own data."

On whether Indian entrepreneurs should buffer themselves from global players:

"I will be tempted to give you an answer to say yes and will be careful and give you a principled view. The power of entrepreneurs is the ability to solve a problem and scale it. I have the largest faith in our young people in Jio. Data in the world costs 8-10 dollars per GB. When we set out to be an only data network as data is the foundation of the new world. If we did not have data in this era we will be left behind. We wanted quality and affordability.

We wanted to build something that every last Indian can afford. Today, we have the highest quality data for half a dollar for a GB. We have 25,000 engineers who made it possible. This connectivity, in a few years, it is ready to go to the world.

It is idea and innovation that will lead the world and not capital. Capital will be abundant for the right people today. I think we should really believe in the power of ideas and opportunity and they will win the heart of Indians and the world for us. 

What you have to do is make sure we open all opportunities to entrepreneurs. To gather in boardrooms etc is different than what is happening in real India. I have met amazing start-up teams who will do something amazing in the next 36 months.

We have connected 1-9 millions schools, we have revolutionised the connectivity. In reality, things are happening a lot faster than what we are able to perceive. Just like Jio came out of nowhere. In two years we made it what it is today.

A lot of silent work is happening on the ground by unknown entrepreneurs which surprise you. You will see it too. "

On the next big disruption and the greatest challenge for India to conquer : 

"Well, I think in terms of disruption the advantage that India has in the world itself is being disrupted. The world itself is 80 trillion dollar world. This 80 trillion dollar world is on the verge of disruption, We undermine the power of technology, what it will do.

If you are always 25th in the class of 50. for you to go to the top 5 is easier than if you were in the top 5 of the class. That is taking advantage of the situation and that is what this generation has.

I continuously say soch badlo toh kismat baglegi. Failure is acceptable. In every 10 things I have done I have failed six times. It needs optimism in our approach to succeed. It will take us a long way to meeting our potential in the country.

I think the simplest way of thinking about this is that the first, second and third revolutions multiplied our muscle power. Whatever we could do earlier, now we can do with 1000 more impact. The difference in the fourth revolution is this should be defined by prinicples of humanism and equality.

Difference between China and India is a democracy. We must work for the progress of 1.3 billion Indians.

I have grown up in the era of scarcity. The technology is moving us towards the path of abundance. I have no doubt that age of oil will be over by next decade and renewable energies will take their place. 

If we adapt to this new age not only can we show a new developmental model as a country, we can have a more equal model, and a model led by all our 1.3 billion people, to show the world that India has a developmental model is which needs to be followed. 

Young generation can build the next India. "

On what 'India first' means for him

"For me 'India first', really means that at a personal level I use all my good fortune to make sure our country is amongst the top in the world, to make sure the world respects us. A rich super power that can show how to live life, that is what India means to me. And that is what we at Reliance are trying to do every day, we try to do every bit to make sure India makes a reaches her full potential."

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