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Interview: 'Something Out of Nothing'- Mukesh Ambani

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Interview: 'Something Out of Nothing'- Mukesh Ambani - July 13th, 2006

Interview: 'Something Out of Nothing'
India's leading industrialist on his plans for a nation, and a company, on the rise
Newsweek International
July 17, 2006 issue - Mukesh Ambani, the chairman of Reliance Industries, aims to reinvent his petrochemical giant as a retail powerhouse, catering to India's booming consumer class. He spoke to NEWSWEEK's Sudip Mazumdar and Ron Moreau about India, Reliance, and the family feud that recently broke the conglomerate apart. Excerpts:


NEWSWEEK: You say India's competitive advantages are globalization, democracy, the ability to adapt to technology, and demography. Starting with democracy, doesn't it slow growth?
Sure, but increased aspirations are also driving growth. Politicians used to tell me: "We sell dreams to people that we knew we'd never be able to fulfill." Today, the mind-set of these politicians has changed. They genuinely believewe have an opportunity to substantially alleviate poverty by 2030.


How does technology fit in?
We are using new technologies in meaningful ways. To build our new refinery in 60 percent of the time it took to build our first, we are training 20,000 people in a new generation of welding technology in six months. This is where demographics comes in. We have 650 million people who are below their early 30s, while the U.S. and Europe face a shortage of skilled workers. A billion people used to mean lots of problems. Today I see a billion people as a billion potential consumers, an opportunity to generate value for them and to make a return for myself.


How do you motivate poor farmers to join your new farm-to-retail network?
We will work with farmers to get them to increase their productivity and produce the right products of the right quality. This also requires a major investment in technology because there are minimum import standards [overseas]. We are also creating something that is totally missing in India: an efficient distribution system, linked to supermarkets across the world. This will generate up to 1 million new jobs and make us the largest private- sector employer in India.


What drives you?
In my father's language: "To create something out of nothing." That possibility exists in India even in old-world sectors like agriculture.


Is this an agrarian revolution?
Absolutely. Reliance is involving itself in agriculture in a big way. This will help to create a second green revolution at a time when energy and agro are converging. Oil is now at $70 a barrel, [but it's] a finite asset. We need a fallback position. We are looking for more gas and oil but we are also trying to grow our own energy. We think this has the potential to change the world.


How disruptive and dispiriting was the feud with your brother?
Fundamentally we had different approaches. My view is to give everyone the space to grow in his own way. When you see restructuring or separations in a family [firm], value has almost always been destroyed. This is the first case where value has been enhanced. In that way it has been a win-win ending.
2006 Newsweek, Inc.
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Re: Interview: 'Something Out of Nothing'- Mukesh Ambani - July 16th, 2006

Great articles nilesh..... U rock!!


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Re: Interview: 'Something Out of Nothing'- Mukesh Ambani - July 16th, 2006

"To create something out of nothing.".. THAT SHUD BE EVRYBODY'S GOAL IN LIFE...!!! GR8 ARTICLE~!!


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