Transcription Of RIL CMD Shri Mukesh D Ambani's Q&A At Today's Delhi Virtual Launch Event Of Shri N K Singh's Book "Portraits Of Power: Half A Century Of Being At Ringside" - GADGET-INNOVATIONS

Transcription Of RIL CMD Shri Mukesh D Ambani's Q&A At Today's Delhi Virtual Launch Event Of Shri N K Singh's Book "Portraits Of Power: Half A Century Of Being At Ringside"

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Q: When did you first meet NK and tell us about your interactions with him since then


I call him NK Uncle, because ours is a multi-generational relationship. My father Dhirubhai knew his father and when he entered services my father knew him as a son of his friend. That relationship grew and when I came back from Stanford, I was introduced to him as one of the brightest IAS officers overseeing how this country works. That was my first interaction and I still remember that my first impression was that IAS guys have style!



Since then what really struck me in my consequent interactions was his curiosity. At all times, he would always be more and more curious in terms of saying ‘what’s happening in your generation?’, ‘what more can we do?’



I have seen him in Commerce Ministry, Finance Ministry, PMO, even in the Home Ministry, say, ‘now what can we do in terms of improving our border security or internal security?’ The curiosity and his single-minded mindset in terms of belief in the ability in Indians and India to do and can do and the positivity. From all of us in the industry, he would take those inputs, convert them into action and make sure that … he was a champion, to my mind, of the economic reforms that have actually happened. In the book he calls himself a Ringside View – I think that a more appropriate description of that would be that he was at least one of the modest Ring Masters of this economic transition in the thirty years. And I have been very fortunate to see that closely, to understand his thought process, and to benefit in my own personal development



Q. Dhirubhai once in his office took out a postcard and asked me ‘if every Indian could speak with each other at the cost of this postcard, where will India be? Think about it’. As of June, you’ve nearly 400 million subscribers in Jio, it is the fastest growing business and the telecom sector. Can you quickly take us through the trials and tribulations, the failures, the successes and the challenges?


As you spoke about my father – he is mentioned in the book. I think that one of the best pictures – the picture that I cherish the most – is part of the book. And, again, just to recap, my father was a son of a schoolteacher who came to the city of Mumbai to live the Indian dream in 1960. And he came with 1000 rupees and a belief that if you invest in businesses of the future and in talent, we can create our own Indian dream, and we can create one of the largest enterprises or companies in the world. As we navigate through the journey of my father in terms of the first few years – and I think the book mentions it – there was a time when Reliance was show-caused by the government and penalised for producing more than its licensed capacity. And then with the economic reforms, today we only incentivize production, and everything that we do today is linked to production and more production. So that is how much mindsets have changed.



If you think about the book and think about what really has happened, we also changed the mindsets of the ruling class, the mindsets of the bureaucracy to be more empowering, to liberalize. And until the DEA licensing in 1990, we used to struggle to create every 10,000; 20,000; 30,000 tons of polyester capacity. At all times, there would be people like N K Singh would have high aspirations for the country saying, ‘Why can't we beat the Taiwanese or ‘Why can't we beat the Koreans’.



And surely, we are now among the top two polyester producers in the world. Even during the COVID crisis we could manufacture PPEs in the shortest possible time. If you look at Telecom, our view was that at the end of the day, we've got to embrace technologies of the future. And this was my father's view, he'd always say ‘I don't want to be only a textile company. If you want to move from textiles, you should move to businesses of the future and you should invest in next generation talent.’ And that is what we've done. Even when we thought through telecom together, the roadmap was very clear. The roadmap was to make calling cheaper than the price of a postcard. Today it is free. And as we migrate to the future, it will not only connect people but also billions of things.  



And we have the concept of a digital society, which our Prime Minister unveiled a couple of weeks ago in his AI conference, where he has given a vision for India in terms of using technology for all sectors of our economy. 



As we see the journey, the faster we embrace technology, the faster we adopt new technologies and adopt the future industries, we will be better off. And I have to congratulate the finance minister for her leadership and, in the last six months, taking some of the most difficult second-generation reforms. We've talked about second generation reforms, but I think that we have now been bold enough to bring about reforms in Education, Healthcare, Employment, Labour and Agriculture. I am sure that these reforms will lay the foundation for our future growth.



Q How do you wish to be remembered as?


Well, it’s more than what I wish to be remembered by. It’s not about me, it is about what I can do to contribute to our society and I think, what I am working towards is really three things as we said like the first is really transformation of India into a digital society and that digital society incorporates all the future industries, so that the next 30 years of India is a 100 times, like what we have never imagined is what we can achieve. That’s the first piece that at least in my humble way of working to.



The second coincidently combines with the magic that our respected Finance Minister talked about and I think that linkages in education and its time to transform our education sector at any point in time we have 200 million children in India in the education system and it will take us 8 to 10 years to completely transform the skill base of India and I think that you know what we have been what our Finance Minister very aptly describe what is magic.



I think that we have the formula to convert the magic into reality and establish linkages between academic institutions to real world, skill training and employment in a way that actually sustains India of much higher quality and better jobs.



And The third thing that we are working towards is really transformation of energy. And we think again that the world is right and India is in the right mindset to completely, in the next few decades, move away from fossil fuels to completely renewable energy. Be Atmanirbhar and really try and see if we can make our modest contribution in terms of development of India and in energy also development of the world in terms of this transition. The way I think about it is that what really controls life is, we are already in information. Both with our IT industry has done and what we have done in communications. We are leaders in the world in information. We have to now covert that to intelligence. We have to have the best human resources and we have to have our own energy and be Atmanirbhar.



If I can play my small part in actually achieving this and create institutions that will perpetuate and sustain that than I would have done my Job. I don’t know whether I will succeed or not.



Q: Indian manufacturing has still not become globally competitive and why is manufacturing growth slower than what we would like. What can be done?


We just have to rethink and reinvent manufacturing, I would agree that some areas – like if you take our own refining and petrochemicals, where we are the most globally competitive – the opportunity for us is to embrace the future industries, think in terms of ecosystems. Three specific things we can do for leadership is to strengthen our small and medium sector. Just like we have startups in technology sector, I think India is ripe now to support our small and medium sector entrepreneurs and get them the physical start up. We need as much thinking about bricks as we have about clicks, and we need to think in terms of an entire ecosystem that delivers future industries and future services and I think that we are already on the way, with what we have done with batteries and solar and all the technologies of the fourth industrial revolution.



If we do that right, rather than worry about the past, we can think about the future then the future is not going to be an extension of the past. We can create our new destiny in terms of eco system, platforms and manufacturing which then becomes a high employment generation piece and we then have a play not only for our domestic market, but all the marginal pieces we can support to the international market.