Remembering Dhirubhai Ambani, Ratan Tata on their birthday

Dhirubhai Ambani and Ratan Tata are among the most prominent business tycoons in India. Interestingly, they both share the same birthday, December 28.

By Curated by Nilanjana Gupta

Published: Mon 28 Dec 2015, 10:56 AM

Last updated: Tue 29 Mar 2022, 11:21 AM

We look at the similarities and differences between India's two major industrialists. Ratan Naval Tata was born on 28 December, 1937, into a wealthy and famous family of Mumbai. His parents Naval and Sonoo separated in the mid-1940s when Ratan was ten and his younger brother, Jimmy, was seven years old. Both of them were raised by their grandmother.

Ratan Tata began his schooling in Mumbai at the Campion School and finished his secondary education at the Cathedral and John Connon School. He has a degree in architecture with structural engineering from Cornell University Advanced Management Program from Harvard Business School. Dhirubhai Ambani was born in a Modh baniya family to Hirachand Govardhandas Ambani and Jamanaben in the village of Chorwad in the district of Junagarh. His father was employed as a school teacher while his mother was a homemaker. Due to the ill health of his father and impoverished living condition of the family, he had to give up on his education and take up a job offered in Aden Since, the Tata's owned a family business, Ratan began his career in 1961 but what makes that more commendable is that he rejected a job offer from IBM. He initially started on the shop floor of Tata Steel, shovelling limestone and handling the blast furnace. In 1991, when J. R. D. Tata (his uncle) stepped down as Chairman of Tata Sons, he named Ratan as his successor. He became the group's fifth chairman.

The Tata Group successfully acquired Jaguar, Corus, Land Rover and Tetley which turned an Indian company into global business players. Now, Tata Sons Ltd owns more than companies in 7 sectors viz consumer goods, services, chemicals, energy, materials, engineering and metallurgy, NTIC. He propelled Tata into international market. The foreign affiliations of Ratan Tata include international advisory boards of the Mitsubishi Corporation, Booz Allen Hamilton, the American International Group and JPMorgan Chase.

Ratan Tata was named as Forbes' Asian Businessman of the Year in 2005.

He has been honoured with many awards during his career including highest civilian awards like 'Padma Bhushan' in 2000 and 'Padma Vibhushan' in 2008. At Aden, he took up a clerical job at A. Besse & Co, the largest transcontinental trading firm east of Suez. Curious to learn the tricks of the trade, he soon started working simultaneously for a Gujarati trading firm.

Meanwhile, Yemeni movement for independence curtailed opportunities for Indians living in Aden. Thus, he moved back to India in 1958 and started exploring business opportunities in Bombay.

Since he could not make large investments, he settled as a spice trader under the name Reliance Commercial Corporations.

He soon shifted focus to yarn trading, which though had high levels of risks involved, promised richer dividends as well.

Starting on a small scale, he soon made big deals in yarn to the point of being elected a director of the Bombay Yarn Merchants Association.

He soon set up a textile mill in Naroda, Ahmedabad in 1966. A man of details, every weekend, he flew from Bombay to Ahmedabad to check on the progress of the establishment of the factory.

His main aim was to produce the best quality nylon in the quickest way possible and in largest quantities. He tripled the workforce to fasten the building of the factory. However, a drop in the valuation of the rupees globally steepened the project costs. Not the one to get deterred by circumstances, Dhirubhai continued with the project to meet his deadline and by January 1967, his dreams came in the form of a factory in Naruda and then onwards was no looking back for reliance.

Reliance Industries is #142 on the Forbes Global 2000 List. His son Mukesh Ambani remains India's richest person for the ninth consecutive year with a net worth of US$18.9 billion, according to the latest Forbes India Rich List. Dhirubhai Ambani was admitted to the Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai on June 24, 2002 after he suffered a major stroke. This was his second stroke, the first one had occurred in February 1986 and had kept his right hand paralyzed. He was in a state of coma for more than a week. He died on July 6, 2002, at around 11:50 P.M. (Indian Standard Time).

Ratan Tata retires

Ratan Tata stepped down as the Chairman of Tata Sons three years ago -- December 28, 2012, his 74th birthday -- after being at the helm of one of the largest Indian conglomerate for over two decades.

Since then, he has slipped into the role of being the Chairman of Tata Trusts and the Chairman Emeritus of Tata Group. Here are some of Dhirubhai Ambani's inspiring quotes which will give wings to your dreams:

1. If you don't build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs.

2. Think big, think fast, think ahead. Ideas are no one's monopoly.

3. Our dreams have to be bigger. Our ambitions higher. Our commitment deeper. And our efforts greater.

4. You do not require an invitation to make profits.

5. Pursue your goals even in the face of difficulties, and convert adversities into opportunities.

6. Meeting the deadlines is not good enough, beating the deadlines is my expectation.

7. We cannot change our rulers, but we can change the way they rule us.

8. Only when you dream it you can do it.

9. Challenge negative forces with hope, self-confidence and conviction. I believe that ambition and initiative will ultimately triumph.

10. Between my past, the present and the future, there is one common factor: Relationship and Trust. This is the foundation of our growth.

11. If you work with determination and with perfection, success will follow.

12. True entrepreneurship comes only from risk-taking.

13. If you're born poor it's not your fault but if you die poor it's your fault.

Some fiery quotes from Ratan Tata:

Take the stones people throw at you and use them to build a monument.

None can destroy iron, but its own rust can! Likewise, none can destroy a person, but its own mindset can.

Ups and downs in life are very important to keep us going, because a straight line even in an E.C.G. means we are not alive.

I don't believe in taking right decisions, I take decisions and then make them right.

All of us do not have equal talent yet all of us have an equal opportunity to develop our talents.

Twitteratti wishes pour in
Twitter is abuzz with birthday wishes for Dhirubhai Ambani and Ratan Tata, two of the greatest entrepreneurs of all times.

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