Born in the family of Ambanis, under the vision of a pioneer like Dhirubhai Ambani who had built the empire from scratch, I naturally had the bars set high for myself. I was a minuscule part of this humongous business entity that had become a darling of investors and apparently had the power to change leaders of the nation. The person who conceived me in his mind passed away even before seeing me grow in July 2002. But he passed on me as his dream to his two sons who were usually called Ram-Lakshman of the corporate world.
I was an innovator as a child, fighting against every force of restriction, acing in government liaisoning and giving a tough fight to those who were much senior to me like MTNL or BSNL, I had made my space among private corporates. I had a versatile personality because I was good at offering telecom services, covering mobile and fixed-line telephony, including broadband, national and international long-distance services, data services and a range of value-added services and applications. I dreamt of fulfilling every Indian’s dream of an affordable mode of communication, be it a farmer or a business person and bringing in the digital revolution. This went well under the mentorship of Mukesh sir because he was an experienced player of the telecom sector. But soon relations got worse between the two brothers. So worse that on my launch event the invitation had only Dhirubhai Ambani and Mukesh sir’s photo on the front page. There were rumors that Anil sir preferred not using reliance Infocomm mobile, my ancestor because he was being billed for that.
But the worst part was yet to come. As the two brothers got involved in a bitter conflict of patriarchial property in September, 2006, the empire got divided between Mukesh and Anil where the former got oil refinery, explorations, and petrochemicals business housed under Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) and latter got profit-making businesses like financial services, Infrastructure and, well, me.
In 2006 when the dark day arrived and I was sent to boarding school to grow under the guidance of Anil sir, I did not have the slightest idea of my plight. Mukesh Sir had promised and signed a bond that he won’t mentor any other kid for the next 10 years so that I can grow in a less competitive world. Meanwhile, Anil sir invested heavily in me by borrowing from banks and companies. The result was positive as I had a strong base and was utilizing my old infrastructure. Because of the background, I came from, forging alliances was not a hard thing for me. Since Anil sir was a pro in raising funds from investors while Mukesh sir had his way with investing and executing plans, former continued investing in many other businesses like me, even entering the defence sector. He had too much in his plate to look after. While each business required funds, there was no business which was stable and showing hefty returns. But this was not the case with Mukesh sir, who continued in the areas of Petrochemical and oil refining which gave him enough returns to meet debt obligations.
During 10 years of my sole supreme presence I remained busy in honing my existing skills. My master started diversifying into several other businesses at one go. Perhaps I required more of his attention as telecom sector has always been considered to have greatest potential. My hard earned money was used in debt servicing of other new businesses. At the same time, Mukesh sir knew that 4G is the future of the telecom sector and it can’t be restricted to just telecommunication but has to be extended to internet connectivity. So while the students in boarding schools were reading from the 2nd and 3rd edition, he got the 4th edition published. Surely I had friends like Reliance BIG TV that ensured that my field is not restricted, but finding no strong competitor for a long time had made me overconfident and then one fine day there was a new admission who became the reason for a classroom crisis.
He was quick to answer, regular in school and became famous among classmates by providing services for the first period of 4 months without any strings attached. Mukesh sir had realised that telecom market was saturated and it had to be expanded to high speed internet services and further started manufacturing mobiles that were compatible with 4G SIMs. As the customer loyalty shifted, this new student started catering to many at a lower price while I catered to few with a more concentrated approach. I was involved in B2B service providing. The years after the Jio’s launch were worse not only for me but for all other players.
I had accumulated a debt of INR 46000 crores which included unfulfilled payment obligation to Ericsson, a Swedish company for its netwrok managing services was tied on my back during all these years. This debt also included a loan of 1.37 billion dollars from China Development Bank. My inability to pay my liabilites in 2016 and further witnessing consecutively two periods of loss made the company file a case in NCLT first and then SC. I decided to sell some of my ownership rights to banks and engineered a deal to sell my assets to Mukesh Sir as I was happy to return to my old master but he refused to accept me along with my debt. TRAI refused to grant permission to such a voluminous deal while the sword of debt payment hung over me. I had already promised to pay 550 crores to Ericsson but as the plan got stuck in legalities I could find no solution. If Mukesh Sir had not paid the amount of 462 crores just before SC’s hearing then Anil sir would have to spent three months of my life in jail and rest in trials and public humilation. But this was a temporary postponement of obligations. As all other creditors started demanding debt, the SC passed me under the guardianship of Deloitte whose representatives are given the task to make sure that my abilities and assets pays out the greatest. I have many prominent buyers like Airtel and Jio as bioth of them are in need of telecom towers and optic fibres to carry out their vision of 5G network after acing 4G. It is yet to be revelaed what future has in store for me but one thing that’s clear is that I have not given reasons to Anil sir to be proud of.