Knowledge and human values essential: Mukesh Ambani


New Delhi : India has been familiar with global leadership in the past and has achieved one of the highest growth rates in the world in recent years, Reliance Industries chairperson Mukesh Ambani said Friday while warning against “deceptive descriptions” like the billionaires’ lists.

Support TwoCircles

Speaking at the India Today Conclave here, Ambani said that knowledge and human values would count as much as financial strengths, if Indian entrepreneurs were to become world leaders in business.

“Global leadership is not unknown to India and since 1991 India achieved one of the highest growth rates in the world. We have 67 percent of the population that is young – below 35 years of age,” said Ambani.

He said India must regain its leadership in science, technology and innovation, especially in the knowledge-driven global economy of today.

Giving a historical perspective, he said India had come a long way since the 17th century, during Mughal emperor Aurangzeb’s reign, when its share in world output was 22 percent and the tax revenues were 14 times that of Europe.

“Nothing in a country or a company is inevitable,” he said, while referring to the fact that the Reliance group was created in just one generation by his late father Dhirubhai Ambani to become India’s largest private sector company.

He said economic powers all over the world were shifting to the private sector and asked the business community to develop a “one world” vision, even as the country’s demographics were in its favour in terms of working population.

“Developing countries would dictate and the power is shifting to many,” he said at the session, entitled “What Does It Take To Be A Global Business Leader?” He said governments were becoming facilitators with power shifting to many.

Ambani said dharma, moksha and karma (righteousness, salvation and duty) were important goals for individuals and that needed to be carried forward to the issue of leadership as well.

“The world is becoming apprehensive of all businesses that did not have their foundations in moral and human values,” he said, adding business leaders were great men and they needed to act as trustees of the society’s wealth.

He said the combined income of the world’s 500 richest people exceeded that of the 416 million poorest, and added poverty was the main cause for the current global turmoil and chaos.

Ambani began his address with a warning that the much-hyped billionaires’ lists, which sought to assess the prosperity of the rich and the famous, were deceptive and drew a parallel with maya of Indian philosophy.

“This, in my opinion, is a deceptive description. This is like maya of Indian philosophy. It veils your vision that comes in way of knowing your real self,” said the chairman of India’s largest company by market capitalisation.

“To all those who have aspirations of global leadership, I would like to caution – beware of such titillating illusions,” he said in a reflective mood. “I hope the next time you do a cover story on Mukesh Ambani, it will not be on the money machine.”

Last week Forbes had named Mukesh Ambani the fifth richest person in the world with a net worth of $43 billion, and called him “Asia’s richest resident”.

The magazine said his fortune was up $22.9 billion since last year, making him the world’s second biggest gainer in terms of dollars. His brother, Anil Ambani, was ranked sixth with $42 billion.

The London-based L.N. Mittal, who is also chairman of steel-maker Arcelor-Mittal and holds an Indian passport, was ranked fourth with a net worth of $45 billion.