Mukesh Dhirubhai Ambani, the Managing Director of Reliance Industries Limited, in an interview with Shekhar Gupta said that he is a big believer in technology. He said his vision for Jio is to connect 1 billion Indians to the internet, adding that connectivity is the first step in terms of innovation that will empower the youth. We inspire each other and at the end of the day it is India and Indians that win, the RIL chief said. Mr Ambani answered his skeptics by proclaiming that Jio is, first and foremost, no punt but a well thought-out, well-executed, well-engineered ecosystem. On the legacy he wishes to leave, Mr Ambani said, "It is not what can be taught or not taught, it is how you develop the hunger to learn. And I think that is in Reliance's DNA." Mr Ambani believes young entrepreneurs and start-ups will really outdo all our expectations, adding that the Ambanis gen-next, Isha and Akash, were the driving force behind Jio.
Here's the full transcript:
Shekhar Gupta: It is a rare appearance of this kind, never made an appearance of this kind before?
Mukesh Ambani: No Shekhar, this is my first in recent times
Shekhar Gupta: So tell us the reason for not doing this more often in the past and for doing this now
Mukesh Ambani: Frankly, nobody asked. You are the first one to ask
Shekhar Gupta: I think that speaks very poorly of journalists. Why do you think nobody asked? You think people were in awe of asking?
Mukesh Ambani: I really don't know
Shekhar Gupta: Because you don't have a media unfriendly image
Mukesh Ambani: I generally think that I should only speak by action and not by words
Shekhar Gupta: That is like cricketers say I let the bat do the talking
Mukesh Ambani: Absolutely
Shekhar Gupta: Your latest action, which has got everybody excited, some people irritated, but many people curious, which is Jio. Tell us the vision behind it
Mukesh Ambani: I think that I myself, I am a very big believer in technology and the progress that humanity can make with adaptation of technology. And if I really give you a historical view, what has happened to mankind in the last 200 years and if you think about the revolutions, we've had literally 1000s of years of existence and we're going at a slow pace
Shekhar Gupta: But really the industrial revolution started the big change
Mukesh Ambani: Absolutely and the first industrial revolution was about coal and water and that actually helped us mechanise our muscles. Until then we were all endowed, we had the brain and the muscle, but the first external help that we got as a human civilisation was when we understood coal and water. That was the first industrial revolution. As we progressed we got oil and electricity and this was late 1800s. As we progressed further and if you think of the early 1900s and I think it is fundamental to all our development, we understood how under high pressure you could extract nitrogen and create fertiliser. And if you then plot population and say that we are now well on our way from a planet of less than a billion people to now, a sustainable over 10 billion people planet. If you think of the information revolution where we are now, is the digital revolution. India has led civilisation over; but not in these last 200 years. We had excuses to say we were under the British rule, we were getting our freedom and I have grown up with my father's deep, deep aspiration for India to lead and become a super power. In my growing up years we missed this opportunity. You know, why can't we beat the Koreans and the Taiwanese? They are doing whatever they were doing and things like that and you fast forward to this time. In 2008-09, which is when we were all looking at where the world was going, we were just entering what I call and now what the world calls the fourth industrial revolution. And at that time it was not very clear. In 2016 it is absolutely clear that the mobile Internet is the defining technology of this century that is going to enable the development of human civilization, converge all disciplines, solve all the pain points. We were fortunate to have the right intuition that this industry will evolve in and we started early. We've worked on it for 5 years.
I have said it many times before India is 155th in the world of 230 countries in terms of mobile Internet access to our 1.2 billion people. I think that Jio is conceived and engineered to change that, to make sure that all Indians have access to high quality, low cost mobile Internet, which is the first pre requisite for development as we define it today going forward. I have said many times that I believe in digital life and the oxygen for a digital life is data or high speed mobile Internet.
Lot of skeptics on the way, I myself am surprised, I am an optimist as you know me Shekhar, but I am absolutely surprised at how India and Indians have adapted to this technology. I thought that lines for new technology and all of that happened only in the US when a new technology came out. I can show you at RCP, in all the 17,000 towns and villages, all the 28 states that we launched, we had lines and we still have lakhs of people everyday wanting to come online and wanting to adapt to this new mobile internet. So in that sense we had conceived Jio to really bring it to a billion Indians, to make their dreams come alive
Shekhar Gupta: I am also a great supporter of erring on the side of optimism. But this is a hall full of finance people, captains of Indian finance and many of them will have skepticism in this new punt that you have taken, entrepreneurial punt. Can you justify a 1,50,000 cr investment, because you are not the government and you don't have access to shareholder's money? It is not your responsibility to provide connectivity to everybody, no matter what the profitability nor is this philanthropy. You think that this is a financially workable model or do you think you have taken too much of a risk?
Mukesh Ambani: First and foremost, it is no punt. It is a well thought out, well executed, well-engineered eco system. Second, for us at Reliance we have always faced this. In the '80s when we invested, the same financial community said this bubble will burst. Unfortunately we proved them wrong. And by and large if you read the Reliance website our principles of doing business are really determined by first, do we at this scale and stage do we create societal value? That is our first tick box that my Board and my governance system will look at and I think that...
Shekhar Gupta: Also share holder value
Mukesh Ambani: Yes. So we will correct all your perceptions. So, a) it is not a punt. b) It is not a 1,50,000cr it is 2,50,000cr that we have announced at Digital India. c) It meets all the criteria of investment that Reliance has set out pretty openly and those are 1) It should create societal value. Reliance and this scale and size will not do anything that doesn't create huge societal value, because at the end of the day I strongly believe that society gives us a licence to operate and making money only is not the licence. So that is the first piece. The second piece is does it create customer value? Just the first 4 weeks and we were giving ourselves 3 years in terms of training people and doing all the other stuff, but it creates huge amount of customer value, it meets the need in the market place. The third is does it create employee value? Are we able to attract the best people, do they enjoy working in terms of an innovative mindset, are they really getting satisfaction day in and day out? We think that Jio more than meets those criteria. And the fourth of course is has to create shareholder value. My last AGM I have said that our consumer business, which consists of digital services, our media and entertainment business and our retail business in the next few years will be as big as our energy business and with what we have seen in the last 4-6 weeks like every time. We will prove all the financial analysts wrong. You wait for the next few quarters and quarter by quarter you will see the results and I am very confident that given what we see on the ground, given the leadership that we have in Jio and the response that we see in the marketplace from India and Indians, they will exceed my own expectations and my own targets that I have set for them. So as usual we will prove the financial community wrong, I have no doubt in my mind
Shekhar Gupta: Only pessimists or also optimists?
Mukesh Ambani: I think that as I am an optimist like what I have seen in the first 6 weeks has exceeded my own expectations
Shekhar Gupta: I'll tell you why I took a conservative view on 2,50,000cr. As a Delhi journalist I am very skeptical of any figures that come out of these big conventions; MoUs etc; 10 lakh cr investment commitments. So we have an immune system
Mukesh Ambani: That is the difference between Mukesh Ambani and the rest. As I said, I speak less and what I speak I do
Shekhar Gupta: You said that there is certain period of time your new businesses and most of these are in new economy areas will contribute more to your balance sheet than your legacy energy business. Will this happen because new businesses will grow much faster or will this happen because energy businesses shrink?
Mukesh Ambani: This happens because the real opportunity in India is the consumer opportunity. If you take a strategic view of India most of my strategy guys teach me this, and I will repeat this to you, in terms of saying that you have some businesses that grow well when a country grows from 500 dollars per capita to 2,000 dollars per capita. We are now on a journey from 2,000 dollars to 5,000 dollars per capita. This is when consumption booms and this is where if combined with technology, you bring efficiency then you are bound to make more value in the consumer business. We think that this is one of the opportunities in the next few years to create a business of scale and size
Shekhar Gupta: Are you moving away from energy business slowly?
Mukesh Ambani: No, I don't think we are moving away from energy businesses. We just think that we are positioning ourselves for capturing all the opportunities. At Reliance we have always believed in investing in the businesses of the future and in investing in talent. We've done this consistently. We started off as a textile company, and then we moved into polyester, moved into plastics, moved into refining and so on. So at every 4-5 years you get different opportunities and we like to make sure that we take advantage and we think that consumer is one the biggest opportunities in India
Shekhar Gupta: And practically everything has been green fields except the media. That has been a brown field in a manner of speaking. Energy you have said remains, but definitely you are moving away from exploration, oil and gas exploration. That is a fact and why?
Mukesh Ambani: Not so, I think that what we are doing in oil and gas exploration is following a process, with the authorities, that slows us down. But I think that we are approaching that in a constructive way and we want the quasi-judicial system to work. As soon as that is over, both BP, who are our partners, and ourselves will invest in this business. At the end of the day we have about a large quantity of gas 7-8 TCF of gas, which even today, at low prices is 30-35 billion dollars of value for India and Indians and we will invest in. From our point of view they are opportunities that we work on and develop at different points in time. Any business in our portfolio is not less important or more important. It's like your children
Shekhar Gupta: But do I see a sense that you are now moving away from businesses, which have a very high government or regulatory interactions?
Mukesh Ambani: No, it just happens that the consumer business is nearer to the consumer and far away from the government and we think it is the largest opportunity.
Shekhar Gupta: Since you talked about the Reliance website, if you check out Reliance's website, among the many things listed on it is a short speech I delivered extempore, in the first meeting of your late memorial father, in which I said that Bombay and Delhi are two different sovereign republics, which haven't yet established diplomatic relations and the strength of Dhirubhai was that he straddled both. So in Bombay we say you can make money through enterprise and you can get some power from it. In Delhi they get power from politics or whatever and we try and make money from it. But he was somebody who always intrigued me because he straddled both the worlds. Are you distancing yourself from one of those two worlds?
Mukesh Ambani: There was only one Dhirubhai. And I don't think anybody...
Shekhar Gupta: ...can emulate him
Mukesh Ambani: ...and I know my limitations very well. I am happy doing one thing
Mr Hajra: Mukesh, my question is about old economy energy of yours. I just wanted to ask you about your take on this because firstly this Algeria happened that was only an understanding. What will happen in Vietnam one knows and in Russia, we find complete Putin. They are talking in complete different veins, so no one knows Russia's real intention. So what's your take on that?
Shekhar Gupta: He has run a company, which has a fortune from oil. He's been chairman of shipping corporation of India; all tanker business
Mukesh Ambani: Should I tell you the Reliance's view or my view, because, fundamentally most of my guys don't agree with what I think. So, my view is if you take on the shorter term, oil will always be between what I think, 50 and 65. I would not be surprised if it goes down to 40. But my other view, which is a 20-year view, is that we are now in transition. So, fundamentally the world will transit from fossil fuels to renewables and this will happen much faster than some of us in the oil industry think. And so to most of my guys, I say, okay so now as a person who understands and observes technology this is now a conversion problem. All of us know that the energy from the sun can now be harnessed and we need to convert it sensibly to use it. So, whichever bright young people across the world figure out how to convert it faster and scale it up, will then transit the world from fossil fuel world to a clean renewable world, which is a good thing. And I personally think that the oil industry conventional view is that it will happen but it is 20 years away. Whatever is 20 years away, why worry about it? I think this is happening much faster
Shekhar Gupta: I think that's a very good point. If I can add my view from being an observer of political economy, I think the first fuel to die in India will be kerosene, as more Indian villages get electric lighting and as slowly subsidies are made direct benefit transfer
Manjeet: I would like to disagree with you on the media investment because the Sunday Observer has become the Research Observer Foundation. So, Mukesh doesn't just report, he makes the country think. So it's a very powerful group and I know it because we compete with them, so he has to be congratulated.
Shekhar Gupta: Any more questions? Harsha Bhogle?
Harsha Bhogle: One of the things we ask in our sports is what can be and what can't be taught? One of the things that fascinates us about Reliance is size, vision, scale. Is that inherited, is it taught? Something you learnt? Is that you? Is that a legacy? It's a very rare quality in India; this vision
Mukesh Ambani: I will answer the question on my own personal experience. It's not what can be or what can't be taught. It's how do you develop the hunger to learn? And I think the Reliance DNA is really reverse, in terms of saying; to my mind a lot of it is connected with my father's philosophy, 'Always keep the average age of Reliance at thirty'. And I think what I have noticed for now is yes, I finish forty years in Reliance and I am fortunate to see a journey. When I joined Reliance we were literally 18 crores of rupees in terms of size, the one like for us. In my first year, we did an IPO which was 1.8 crores and I am still very, very proud of the 1.8 crore IPO we did. So all through the 39 years what I have learnt is how do you build the hunger to learn. And, if you actually build the hunger to learn you can pretty much learn anything and that's what we have noticed time and time over again
Shekhar Gupta: Alyque Padamsee please
Alyque Padamsee: I think the interview that you gave to Fareed Zakaria on CNN last week was an excellent one. But one of the areas that I feel perhaps was overlooked was the fact that this is the youngest nation in the entire world and instead of 1.3 billion people, the youngest in the world, 50% are under the age of 25. But, what I am asking you is do you think the new world, the new world of business is what I am talking about, will belong to the old fossils like BP or to General Motors, which is already collapsing or will it belong to the young entrepreneurs, what they call the start-ups? Not only abroad like Facebook, any others, Twitter, but also in India companies that have come overnight and suddenly are valued at 3, 4, 5 billion dollars like Flipkart.com. What do you think? And what is Reliance doing to support that movement?
Shekhar Gupta: I think before he answers, you are a very good advertisement for the fact that age doesn't matter, you can stay young forever
Mukesh Ambani: Thanks for asking the question. I will tell you what someone did to complete the; so what I told him, even then when he was talking about India, is 3-4 important points that come to my mind. Number one is that we are the youngest country in the world today and relative to the US, like if you put the ages as a difference of 11 years between us and the US, Europe is at 46, China is at 41 and all of that. So take those numbers out because I am sure, but without doubt, we are the youngest country. The second piece that I think is that I have the whole phenomenon of Reliance, right? It is not Dhirubhai Ambani, is not Mukesh Ambani. It is what the young people of India can do. It was what the 30-year-old did when I was 27, in terms of saying that we can build a polyester plant in 18 months, when nobody else can do it. In the late '90s it was saying we can build a refinery which is the world's biggest refinery in the late '90s, not being a BP, Shell, not being an Exxon and have the audacity to say that we will supply the 2% of the world's transportation fuels and export to a 110 countries. And this what a 10,000 or a total of 11,000 30-year-olds did in the '90s. And if we say in terms of what we did in 2015-16, the last three years, right, Jio, 60,000 people and the average age is 30. I have been absolutely clear that we keep our average age at 30. On that basis and we are born as a mobile company, as an Internet company bigger than in terms of speed, the audacity of saying that we will launch across India. Nobody has done this, nobody has done and I don't want to bore you with the technological pieces. So absolutely this has proven that given if you have faith in your young people, they will deliver, they will really outdo all your expectations. The issue is do we really and we've got to put our hand on heart, as I get to 60 next year, that do we really give our young an opportunity?
Shekhar Gupta: Mukesh has referred to his age a lot of times. He and I are the class of '57s. We are a class of people born in 1957 so when he turns 60, I will also turn 60 which I think is a very sobering thought
Mukesh Ambani: And then let me answer Alyque even further, what's happened in the world? In the world, if you look at the average life of the SNPN, he is so right intuitively like being an observer of the world, in terms of the fact the average life of a company has come down to, it was 20 years ago, 50-60, it's now down to 30. And if you read a lot of Stanford, Harvard professors, the average life of a company on SNP is going to go down to 20 years. So, the answer is, across the world there will be new companies and I expect that trend to be even faster in India and what it needs is just a sense of positivity. A positivity from among all of us. Those who are on this side of 45 now or 50, in terms of saying let's give this generation a chance, let's support them, let's make sure that we realise the full potential in them. And with everything that is happening in the world, I am very, very positive on the youth and this is virtually at all levels including the biggest challenge. I think that we have to really create a million jobs a month on a productive basis, put more income into the hands of our young people on literally a month on month basis for the next 20 years. And if you talk to a lot of US politicians and global politicians and if you ask them, they will tell our task is to create a million jobs a month, right? They look at us in awe but I still think that the young people of India can do it and I am super positive
Prasoon Joshi: I have often sensed that when a question of this social good and you talk about businesses, which are contributing to the society and the stock market comes, I find a contradiction mostly and I have seen you talking more about it than the market resonating about your consciousness towards social good. Do you find that there is a contradiction when you want to take your stakeholders with you? You want to benefit them as well as the society. Do you find it difficult to go hand in hand? Whenever I meet lot of these big companies, who have got the CSR budgets, constantly struggling with this social consciousness towards generating money, how do you deal with this contradiction? And if Dhirubhai was alive today would he have done Jio business the same way or would he have gone for this the same way as you have gone today?
Mukesh Ambani: Let me answer the second question. He would have told me you are still too slow. On the earlier question, I am in a fortunate position like we have very talented people, resources. We can take a view that there is always lag action. That always happens, so we will say okay, like how all these financial markets don't understand our business model and this happened in the technology industry across. If we take what has happened to the corporate sector, and for me US is a good representative for us to get a good understanding of what is happening in the world, so in the '90s, the 3 biggest companies were GM, BoA, Walmart and these guys had a market cap, which was each one of them 300-400 billion. Today if you see all of that has come down and the new boys in town are Apple, Google, Facebook, each one of them with market caps of 250 billion, which answers Alyque's question. More importantly, you go back and these are only 7, 8, 9 years old right? Go back and look at research reports for the financial communities for the first 3 years of each one of these companies. And nobody had actually predicted that's how they will go. So I am in a fortunate position and I really go by my own conviction. It is my own belief, my own conviction. I am in a fortunate position that my Board, my people support me in terms of conviction. As long as you've got your courage of conviction, it works for you. I think that the same applies to even where you don't, because in today's world, financial resources are the least important. World has moved to the power of ideas. I always say this to all our young people that there were times where you would have only kings and queens and monarchs or governments to do things and change things for people. Then it moved to large corporations and today I think that 5 people in a new start-up exactly like Alyque said can actually not only change a country but they can change the world
Amish Tripathi: Mr Ambani you are absolutely right. Access to knowledge is a huge competitive advantage today and the Internet addresses that. The problem is that the English language itself has become a bottleneck. Most journals, research papers are in English, 1.1 billion Indians don't know English. Knowledge providers don't take this problem seriously as they should. Access providers such as yourself can find some solution for it
Mukesh Ambani: We are committed to doing this is in 12 languages, fundamentally it is very important, there is now technology, the automatic translation technology, but fundamentally we think that for Jio we are going to be accessible and we are working with all content providers, particularly education, to make sure that we deliver high quality education content in all the 12 languages. And entertainment, as Shekhar said, is an inherited business, but if you have seen and followed Reliance like we've aggressively gone regional and we now have regional channels for entertainment in all the languages, which of course will also become digital. Everybody is making progress, all the big platform companies are also seeing the same issues and what we see on the ground is that they realise the potential of India and the potential of our regional markets and you will see very innovative products. I don't think that, you know, if we have this conversation in 2018-19 this will be a problem, because all of us are aware of it and you hit the nail on the head.
Smita Parekh: You have invested so much time, resource and evidently have been a leader of the pack in everything you have done and I don't think anybody can question that. My point is why not 5G or 6G? Would there be a 5G anytime soon? Because there has been a 4G and considering all the resources you have in hand, is it possible that it will even happen anytime soon and would you be the frontrunner for that? And, how do we cope with this kind of technology?
Shekhar Gupta: If Reliance invented Jio on its own that it would be called RG, that's a sassy point. Go ahead
Mukesh Ambani: The infrastructure we have in 2016 is 5G, 6G, 7G ready. What does 5G or 6G mean? So, one piece in terms of connectivity is that we are now connecting people together. So, if you just go to the first principles of connectivity, we started with connecting places together, so across the world the first phone we connected Bombay to New York and that went on for 100 years. It's only in 1990 that we started connecting people together. Now, apart from and that's why even we got that, even in India, literally a billion phones and in my view everybody will have a phone, it will be a utility and all people will be connected. The world is moving to connecting things together. So, everything that means the camera outside house will be connected to the camera and the police station, so that if anyone does anything all the things around you will be connected and that will be 200 billion. And as you get more and more connectivity you need quality of connectivity to improve, so you will need higher speeds, you will need lower latency. If you want, if you believe in robotics, if you believe in self driving cars like autonomous cars, that's when you need 5G. The good thing about all of this is that it evolves and if you are proactive you would be able to do everything. We were only lucky in this market that the big gap was left and we could enter. In most other markets and it's purely our good luck that we could have a big gap here, but otherwise these are evolutions that are driven by needs in society. So, if there is an autonomous car every car will consume 1000 gigs a day of bandwidth. So, fundamentally if you are looking at robotics then you need very low latency that will be 6G or 7G in terms of saying that now will machines be able to do my job and all of this is based on connectivity. So, I don't think that it's 4G, 5G or 6G or what kind of technology, it's really use case and what's use case is relevant in what economy
Shaina NC: How does India's richest man stay so humble and grounded and do you think this trait will pass on to your next generation and do you think you would like to pass on some part of this ideology to political class as well?
Mukesh Ambani: As far as the next generation is concerned, I think that I have learnt from my father, he treated me early on as a partner. And when I was like 14, 15, 16 he said, you are not under training, you are my partner and this is your responsibility. That's what I have done with the next generation. And for me the next generation is not only my own children but the 30-year-olds that work at Reliance. When we have given them this partnership mindset the results are magical. The responsibility is magical and they have always exceeded our expectations in terms of whether they will be as good as I am or as humble as you say, I really don't know. At least my own children and my 30-year-olds in Jio are quite used to overruling me. I am getting used to being overruled every now and then, my children boss over me. It's a new life. It's good for me.
Priyanka Chaturvedi: You've been speaking about the next generation and we have been seeing Isha and Akash are spearheading the entire Jio initiative. So I wanted to ask you, do you feel that there is a pressure on them to carry forward the legacy or there is a pressure on Mukesh Ambani to live up to the scale and ambition of their dreams?
Mukesh Ambani: This is a true story. Isha went to Yale and came back and said, Dad the Internet in our house sucks. This was in 2010. She said at Yale I do everything on the Internet and I can't do anything from home. That was one piece. Second was Akash, he says that you think you are getting into a new business, so he says Dad you won't get it. Every now and I hear from my 30-year-olds that you don't get it. So I said okay. He says, in your world only when one person phones another person and only when the other person picks up, do you charge and make some returns. There are only so many million people to talk to so many million people. In my world, I just talk to a server. So if somebody has put up a Facebook post, so there is never a no reply and all of us are connected. And if you can do that, you won't get it, unless I do, you won't get it. So this is then true for all our 30-year-olds at Jio. It is why I learn from them and it's been a huge learning experience and that's why I think ceding to the next generation is always a good idea
Shekhar Gupta: But you've had trouble with connectivity
Mukesh Ambani: Yes we've had trouble and that is when I had got into the IIT. I was bright, I got in on my own merit, but when you go to the hostel you get ragged
Shekhar Gupta: So you are getting ragged now
Mukesh Ambani: Fundamentally, you have to take it in the right spirit. There is a principle and there is an eco system. There is a governance system. And the governance system, I have no problem with as long as I or Reliance gets ragged; we are big boys, we can take it. But the consumer should not suffer, right? And now we are adding lakhs of people everyday and as long as they don't suffer. I have enough faith in the maturity of our operators and the maturity of our governance system, that at the end of the day we can always inspire each other, but consumers really should not suffer
Shekhar Gupta: Even when a fresher is ragged, there is a Principal, there is a faculty, there are regulators. Do you think that the regulatory systems in this area of Telecom and IT are good enough or does it have to mature in India?
Mukesh Ambani: We will see. I will answer this question if the ragging doesn't stop in the next few weeks, that is for all of us to see
YP Rajesh: You said that this is not a punt for Reliance and Jio, you must have heard this one. How does one become a millionaire? Become a billionaire and start an airline. Do you see that happening in the telecom industry, even if not to Reliance, to other players, the way the telecom wars have started?
Mukesh Ambani: I don't. Fundamentally, I think that the opportunity is big. You can bring anything to the ground. That depends on you. It can happen anywhere, any business, any time. But if you look at the opportunity which I call connectivity, if you look at the overall digital services opportunity, this will be the biggest opportunity that global economy has seen in the last 20 years. So it will be very difficult for anybody to get it continuously wrong on an ongoing basis unless you are just not determined to succeed
Deepika: Mr Ambani, as the owner of 2 major news channels what is your opinion of the independence of media in India? How do you react to the Internet being suppressed when it is convenient, how do you react to interviews being suppressed when convenient, do you feel a sense of responsibility?
Mukesh Ambani: As far as running the media is concerned, there are global standards and we are shareholders. But at the end of the day, we have adequate governance systems that actually manage that. So in a sense, we are pretty much hands off as far as that is concerned and I would have the same concern like any other citizen in terms of what is right and what is wrong.
Shekhar Gupta: So do you keep a track or any tabs on your channels, does somebody give you a report once in a day, once in a week, once in 2 weeks?
Mukesh Ambani: No, it is not my job. It is the job of the Board of that media company
Shekhar Gupta: Do you get calls?
Mukesh Ambani: No I don't get calls
Shekhar Gupta: Very lucky. Not yet, but they will happen
Viraj Mehta: We spent the last hour talking of changes in the economy, in businesses, industrial revolution. We haven't really seen that change in our politics. I am sure Priyanka and Shaina won't disagree. Do you see that change coming and if you don't, would you like to play a role overtly in the future?
Mukesh Ambani: No, I am not made for politics. But frankly I think that when I see the next generation across, they all understand this. And at the end of the day I am a big believer that we get leaders that we deserve because we actually vote for them every year. So we can't blame them, it's our collective responsibility to put the right people in the right job
Namrata Zakaria: Jio was the title sponsor of the Mumbai Film Festival and we are all talking about films especially Karan Johar's film and the state of Pakistani actors in Indian films
Mukesh Ambani: For me, I don't understand all of this. I am absolutely clear of one thing, that for me it is always country first. I am not an arty type and nor am I an intellectual, so I don't understand all this. But undoubtedly at all times for all Indians, India is to be first
Shekhar Gupta: But do you see a contradiction in putting India first and having a few Pakistanis in our creative industries or sports because of that power?
Mukesh Ambani: I don't understand all that
Shekhar Gupta: I am just ragging you
Bachi Karkaria: You control possibly every single infra area in this country. Does that make you feel like your only competitor is the Government or does it give you sleepless nights?
Mukesh Ambani: I don't think that we play power at all. We don't play roads at all. We don't play airports at all. It would be wrong to say that we control all of infrastructure. I think that in terms of digital services, the idea of digital services is a distributed empowered system. The kind of infrastructure that we are, not the old world monopoly kind of stuff, and that itself should give the people sleepless nights. Because if they are not passionate, they are not involved, and if they do not want to deliver value everyday to each one of their customers, they won't be in business for long. Their customers will put them out of business and to my mind, that is the right mindset. My own view is that the role of Government is different. The role of Government is to be an umpire and to make sure that nobody is taking advantage of anybody else and that we talked about regulations and stuff like that. My view is that this will happen
Niranjan Hiranandani: I am a great admirer of you and I just wanted to put across something that puzzles my mind. Mr. Deepak Parekh 35 years ago, created a revolution in housing and finance but we haven't been able to make housing in the scale that I think Reliance could have put forth. 10-12 years ago it was rumoured that you were really getting to it. So we were really looking forward to it because I feel there is a huge gap in affordable housing that a company like Reliance could actually fulfill a demand. So are you seeing a digital demand which is bigger for Reliance in the housing sector, which is a need of the people. So you are saying a social need is being fulfilled by digital but not producing housing?
Mukesh Ambani: I am not saying that. It's choices that we make. I agree with you that housing is in fact one of the most important drivers of the economy and everybody has shown that. It's the simple choices that we make. And I think that we really have a huge amount and it's fashionable to be negative in our country. Like one piece is that I think that India is in such great times that we are one of the few economies, where unlike now the US, I can see that successive generations of Indians will be better off than their earlier parents or whatever else. In the US it is reverse. So, if you again take this Government, when Nandan went, they didn't throw Aadhaar out. They reinforced. So to me like one has to do the right things. Individuals, policies don't matter. And I think that is the maturity of our own democracy that I am really looking forward to. What I had appealed is that we need a lot more positivity in our discourse. We need a lot less cynicism because the youth of India want positivity, youth of India want to chase opportunity and they have in their hands the India of tomorrow. I think that we owe a lot more of positivity to them, a view of a glass half full, not a glass half empty
Aditya Damani: I'd love to hear your insight and views on the current Government considering that you've dealt with them in such a close manner and spent so much money and so how are they different from previous Governments?
Mukesh Ambani: India is fortunate really to have Modi as the PM. One of the critical pieces and I have said this in terms of his whole vision for digital India. I feel very proud and a lot of people from pretty much round the world that I know, friends of mine in the White House come and say, a lot of countries are running this race for digitisation and for leadership in digitisation and within that we see that India also for the first time is running this race and you guys are doing well. And towards that Shekhar talked about it, but it is important not to have the attitude ke isne kiya to yeh accha nahi hai. Think that the work that my friend Nandan Nilekani has done will go down in history when your children are citizens of India. They will say there was one Nilekani who did phenomenal work in 2009 that puts India on a financial inclusion on a digital map
Shekhar Gupta: That calls for a little applause. Mukesh since you spoke about Government, Reliance is not a group that is used to being ragged?
Mukesh Ambani: You want a headline for tomorrow?
Shekhar Gupta: I am asking you a question
Mukesh Ambani: As you mature you get used to everything
Shekhar Gupta: It's also a complex politics. Priyanka is also there, even her party says Ambani Adani ki sarkar hai. You have any answer to people who criticise the Government and say Ambani Adani ki sarkar hai?
Mukesh Ambani: Well we do the right thing and we leave it for the others to judge as to whether we are doing the right thing or not. We are accountable at all times to everybody and everybody is entitled to their view
Shekhar Gupta: Ragging, you are not worrying about or are you worrying about?
Mukesh Ambani: Well ragging to me, we are big boys. We can take it. But I think that if it affects millions of Indians in terms of their quality of service that should be unacceptable to anybody
Ruhi Tewari: How do we ensure, that while we have an enabling atmosphere for a market driven economy based on healthy capitalism, we do not allow crony capitalism to prosper?
Mukesh Ambani: Transparency. It's the only way to go. Make sure that everything is merit based, make sure that you are completely transparent in day-to-day decisions and in my view larger amount of connectivity, the ability of people to have access to everything, automatically facilitates this.
Mahrukh Inayet: What do you watch at 9 pm because the charge against TV channels is that they become extremely noisy and debates are being relegated to shouting matches. What do you watch at 9 pm?
Mukesh Ambani: I watch Arnab and I like him quite a bit.
Shekhar Gupta: There is no conflict of interest in what he is saying, so I think you didn't have to make a disclosure of this also. Thank you very much, it's been a wonderful conversation. Thank you all.