The Rags-to-Riches Story of Dhirubhai Ambani

On December 28 in the year 1932, one of the richest industrialists of India was born in the state of Gurajat. His name was Dhirubhai Ambani, the founder of Reliance Industries which is now the largest Indian private company.

Dhirubhai Ambani
Dhirubhai Ambani (Credit:

Dhirubhai Ambani was the son of a poor school teacher. After finishing high school (matriculation in India), he moved to Yemen where he worked as an attendant in a gas station. He returned to India and started a small trading company with a partner. When the partnership failed, he put up his own textile trading firm and named it Reliance Trading. It was reportedly a one-room operation with only a table and three chairs as its furnishing. It exported agricultural products and imported yarn and fabrics. With perseverance, he built the company by establishing branches all over India. Soon it opened its own textile manufacturing plant and ensured a wholly vertically integrated operation. In 1991, Reliance Textile became the world’s largest producer of polyester.

In 1977, Dhirubhai floated Reliance on the national Stock Exchange of India and was easily subscribed seven times. It went on to develop a certain cult among investors. At that time, Reliance Industries had over 2 million shareholders and at least 35,000 attend its annual stockholders meeting which are often held in stadiums. Reliance Industries was later on established when it expanded operation to include petrochemicals and telecommunication.

Dhirubhai Ambani died of stroke in 2002 at the age of 69 and upon his death, Reliance Industries was worth $25.6 billion. He had received several awards such as Man of the Century by Chemtech Foundation and the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian honour. He was named as one of the Power 50-the most powerful people in Asia by Asiaweek magazine. After his death, his two feuding sons divided the conglomerate between themselves. At present, Reliance Industries has sales of more than $88 billion and a market capitalization of $123.8 billion. His son, Mukesh Ambani is now the richest person in India with a net worth of $76 billion.



  1. While ANYBODY’s story, of having from rags to riches, (and We have to remember Our Chai-vala here), is uplifting and inspiring, I would say their methods, even their history, is better avoided like a plague. While Many rich, like Zacchaeus, distributed their earnings among the Needy, Bill Gates and India’s owner of Wipro Azim Premji notable in Our lifetime, in my opinion the modis, adanies and ambanies are just hyenes, with endless hunger.

    • I respect your opinion. They are just stories and like any other stories, it is up to the readers to choose what lesson to learn.

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