Dhirajlal Hirachand Ambani (or Dheeru Bhai Ambani) (born December 28, 1933, at Chorwad, Junagadh in Gujarat, India) from the Modh Bania, a Hindu commercial caste, hails from a poor village. He was the second son of Hirachand Gordhanbhai Ambani, a school teacher, and Jamnaben. He is a rags-to-riches story. Starting off his entrepreneurial career selling "pakora" to the pilgrims in Mount Girnar during weekends, he built up Reliance Industries, a business empire worth $12.3 billion in annual sales making it the first privately owned enterprise to enter the Fortune 500.He was married to Kokilaben. Their two sons are Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani and two daughters are Nina Kothari and Deepti Salgaocar. After his death on July 6, 2002, at Mumbai, his sons manage the affairs of the company now.
Education & Career
At the age of 16, Dhirubhai Ambani went to Aden in Yemen. He worked as a dispatch clerk with A. Besse & Co. where he ended up managing the filling station at the port of Aden. For some time, he worked in Dubai. Ten years later on returning to India, he founded the Reliance Commercial Corporation with an initial investment of Rs 15000 in partnership with Champaklal Damani with whom he parted ways in 1965. He began by trading in textile in the Mulji-Jetha Textile Market and imported polyester.
He set up his own textile mill in 1966 at Naroda, near Ahmedabad under the brand name ‘Vimal’. He diversified into petrochemicals and oil refining, telecommunications, energy, information technology, retail, power, capital markets, infrastructure services, and logistics.
He was accused of unethical business practices and ran into a running feud with Nusli Wadia of Bombay Dyeing which ended only when he was debilitated with a stroke. The feud developed into a battle between him and Wadia – Ramnath Goenka (the Indian Express Group) that snowballed into conflict with the Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi.
- He received The Economic Times Award for Corporate Excellence for Lifetime Achievement (2001)
- 'Man of the Century' award by Chemtech Foundation and Chemical Engineering World (2000);
- Greatest Creator of Wealth In The Centuries by The Times of India (2000);
- Dean's Medal by The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania (1998 and the first Indian to get the medal).
He was featured among 'Power 50 - the most powerful people in Asia by Asiaweek magazine (2000, 1998 and 1996) and named the Man of 20th Century by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).