June 4, 2010



I was in Cannes this year for the annual film festival! The day after the inaugural show, was a symposium on Indian flms. While speaking at the symposium, I said that the West better take India very seriously as sooner or later, in any case, Indians or Chinese will be owning all the major Hollywood studios, since they are mostly bankrupt and on sale. At the end of my speech, most people who came up to me seemed disturbed by my statement! Many asked whether I really meant that statement!

Well, I surely meant that! One look at the global rich list today and you will see how it has been stormed by the Indians. The reasons, as I said in one of my previous editorials, is of course more to do with the way Indian governments have helped privatise national resources than encourage real brand building abilities – (‘Blood billionaires. Scam Billionaires. Indians storm into the Forbes billionaires list’; December 23, 2007). The best proof of my statement is that when it comes to the world’s top hundred billionaires, we have a lot of Indians; but when it comes to the world’s top hundred brands, we don’t find a single brand developed by Indians. However, that, I believe, is going to change – at least partially. Tatas already own Jaguar and Land Rover. And they are seemingly turning the units around. So even if we didn’t create brands thanks to the Kalingas, Singurs and Poscos, our industrialists have been made billionaires by successive governments so that they can now buy up readymade brands and build upon them.

The point, however, that I want to make today is the significance of the coming together of the Ambani brothers in the midst of this situation. Those in the know of the Reliance empire would know that till Dhirubhai Ambani, the founder of the Reliance empire, was alive, one hardly saw much of Mukesh Ambani. While insiders say he used to do the work, it was left on Anil to be the public face; and it worked very well. From a Bollywood star wife to his flamboyance, he was perfect for media to thrive upon. In fact, in the public documents also, one will find notes by Dhirubhai which make it amply clear that he trusted Mukesh more when it came to business activities. Post his death however, the brothers parted ways. And while Mukesh grew and had the right relations with the government as well, Anil went through a rough patch culminating into the latest courtroom drama on the supply of gas for his power projects and the eventual patch up between the brothers mediated by their mother! So what does this mean for India and the world? For starters, one thing is now almost certain that post the mutual cancellation of non-compete agreements, there would be no need for Mukesh to hunt for other ways to be in the telecom business – his long cherished dream. It’s widely speculated that whichever international player shows interest in Anil’s telecom business, it’s finally going to go to Mukesh. Same will be the case with the financial arm of ADAG. With that, it will be almost like old times. Mukesh will run the big businesses. Anil will own them along with him and would be left free again to concentrate on things he enjoyed – films for one are high on his agenda; one reason for Hollywood studios to beware! It also means that together now the brothers will be more valuable than ever before. Mukesh more so!

To understand the real value of Mukesh and the significance of my headline, here are some facts. The Mukesh Ambani group’s total turnover is $44.6 billion (Anil’s is another $14 billion). Mukesh is ranked just two ranks below Bill Gates in the Forbes billionaires’ list, at #4 with a personal net worth of $13.7 billion (Anil is at 36th). Compare it to Bill Gates’ Microsoft , which has total revenues of $58.5 billion. Gates himself has a net worth of $53 billion; and apparently Bill Gates still seems richer than Mukesh or so thinks Forbes. But what it forgets is that compared to the $14.4 trillion GDP of United States, Bill Gates is just a minor fraction. But the Ambanis put together, are a staggering 6% of India’s GDP of $1.09 trillion – Mukesh alone 4%! Add to that a few more facts. For Bill Gates, everything is in white! And he is hardly wielding a fraction of political power. In India, Mukesh virtually runs the nation, owns virtually the entire media in reality and most politicians are only too pleased to work as per his will... While Bill Gates is just a big businessman in USA, Mukesh Ambani virtually runs India – the nation which is going to dominate the world in the next quarter of a century. Those who think Mukesh is just the 4th richest man in the world don’t know the reality yet. And reality is only going to now grow bigger with the coming together of the brothers. Bill Gates and Warren Buffetts will soon become insignificant in this new world order – at least as far as wealth and power is concerned. And it’s time the world wakes up to this fact!



K0514 said...

nice one yet again...


lipi mukherjee said...

Informative post which deals with some facts which we wouldn't have noticed otherwise.Good to know the position of India in global scenario....

ideatingfreak said...

An article based on "feel good factor"...

Yes, crouching Indians are on the prowl...


1. With Bill Gates only a fraction of the nation's (US) wealth, doesn't it signify the level of equity in the wealth distribution?

2. In India, we all have rich men, who are "Oligopolists"... Think about the largest company, Indian Oil...

3. With wealth concentrated in few hands, with Mukesh Ambani having 4% of the GDP which is sure gonna rise; isn't it a threat to the equi-distribution?

India is like a person whose malnourished body is veiled with the "Gucci Clothes" Billionaires...

Also, why do we run after for the west to appreciate?

Think about Chinese companies, who are slowly slithering into Africa, Americas and Europe, without making much fuss.

It's time, the infrastructure is developed.

As an economist rightly put it-

Growth for the sake of growth, is what cancer cells do too!!!

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Sridhar said...

Just one word BRILLIANT!!! :)

Rohit Gada said...


Respected Sir

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Looking forward to your reply.

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Rohit Gada


Nagindas Khandwala College , Malad, Mumbai
Ph : 09773261187

biprojit said...

Went through your article, sir. Really a brilliant approach to bring the situation blended with all proven facts into the lime-light . Simply awesome. The analysis, u made to distinguish between Gates and the Ambanis is really worth praises. I hope, we got to learn a lot from you.

Wishing you even more resounding successes.

Have a great time.

Regards Biprojit

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Sashidharan Balasundaram said...

Sir Your comparison is OK. But making rough statements like running the Indian government on Mr.Mukesh is like winning a case with out proof and fact. Otherwise you were very much true on the developing India.

Ashish said...

A nice blog but you have not taken into consideration that to gain a purview of influence Indian GDP will have to be close to that of the US/UK.In that case Mukesh Ambani's personal worth will have to grow in tandem with the Indian economy...which may or may not happen.How can you assume that the stake of Reliance in Indian GDP will be a constant...even if it is,MA's net worth will be higher than that of Bill Gates and hence the greater significance

Vipul said...

Well, but Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are doing a lot more to the social good / charity than either of the Ambani brothers. Ironically Bill and Warren belong to the rich land where there is not enough scope to do the social good and hence are doing most of it in India and Africa; whereas Ambanis belong to the poor land and there is a lot more need to do the social good.

Definitely India and Indians are growing fast and will stand very tall soon, but saying "Bill Gates and Warren Buffett will soon become insignificant" would definitely make this blog less interesting. What makes one think that Bill and Warren are going to be stagnated?

Vipul said...

Also, Mukesh cannot be running the nation when there are more than finger countable honchos and biggies in India today. There are 49 Indians in the forbes Billionaires list today.

armageddonsaviour said...

That was a Good One ...

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pavan said...

@Ashish, Since Reliance is spread in most of the significant industries & spreading its wings into evry possible rising industries, i am of the opinion that Mukesh Ambani's personal worth will grow in tandem with the Indian economy. When most of what the consumers spend will go into the coffers of Reliance.

Ariel.com said...

As someone said, yet another brilliant piece. The statistics you put forward is really delighting one. The countries and the rich around the world are keenly watching the progress of this industry family. Though there were ups and downs the present developments are really a praiseworthy one. If this unity continues between the brothers and the family members they can knit together a wonderful India which provides jobs to the millions. Thanks to Arindam for the edit, but here one thing I want to make note of is that, the comparison between Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Ambanis I think you did a bit exaggeration here. The Bills and Warren are doing a tremendous job when it comes to the charity side, Where will Ambani’s stand on this particular issue. What is the logic in Arindam’s comparison? What is the mite in Ambani’s offer in the charity box? No doubt nowhere near Bill Gates or Warren Buffet. Instead he is lavishly spending the money he earned for building a great relationship between his wife, the money he spent to please his wife is really a shocking and a shameful figure. Constructing houses and buildings, helipads, Ships and Airplanes for his wife is still an Indian can’t understand. The list for his wife may increase in the future. Of course, it is his money, he has every right to spend as he like but, being an Indian and thinking of his father’s initial stages how can he stop doing service to the downtrodden? Being and Indian and the stage from where he comes up to this stage he must show more kindness towards such activities. He must think for a minute before his preposterous spending on her beloved wife. Would like to here from Arindam on Ambani’s lavish spending to please his wife.

pandey rc said...

Dear Sir,

It is good post again

I like it.

pandey rc said...

Dear Sir,

It is good post again

I like it.

pandey rc said...

Dear Sir,

It is good post again

I like it.

paul said...

It's not only Mukesh Ambani, but a capitalist lobby that runs the country. Informative editorial.

Manju Ray said...

The word parent is derived from a latin word (PARENS )---- caretaker of the children. No one is born to be a fit parent. It is a natural instinct once we are parents because it is one of the most satisfying & fulfilling, at the same time challenging experience of a person..

timeforchange said...

hi sir ,
may be lot of Indians will feel proud about Forbes ranking of Ambanies ,but I m not very happy and feel disgusted that Ambani brothers are growing more powerful as days progress , as Indians remain most poor people in today's world .

Dali said...

Thanks Mr Arindam for all the statistics. It somewhat sounds like an article written by some 'side kick' of Ambanis.
I would appreciate if you can spend some time in evaluating even the facts about their respective charities by which they give back to the society and community.

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