February 13th, 2013
09:45 AM ET

Mukesh Ambani: In India, everyone counts

"Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

Fareed speaks with Mukesh Ambani, the richest man in India and chairman of India's largest company, Reliance Industries, about the state of the global economy. To see the full interview, download the show at iTunes.

You are very bullish about the United States, probably more bullish than a lot of Americans. What about the other key drivers of the world economy? Because a lot of people say, look, China is slowing down, Brazil has slowed down, India has slowed down? What do you think of the emerging markets story?

I think that China is maintaining steady growth. It’s not decelerating. Europe has found its own transition path. And they will transgress through the financial system in an orderly way, India has had some slow growth, but I am really very optimistic on India.

Why is that? Because when people look at India today, they see growth is at 5.5 percent now. You talk to foreign investors and they say the infrastructure is terrible, the government doesn't do enough reform, it’s very difficult to operate in India. You look at all that and you're still bullish?

Well, I'm very bullish on India because it’s really the aspirations of a billion people. And ours is a country where all the billion count. There are some countries in the world where one person counts. There are some countries where the Politburo of 12 people count. The beauty of India is that all our billion people count. And they have aspirations. And it is really a bottom-up story. It’s not a top-down story. So, yes, we will, adjust with what happens in the rest of the world, but we are on a long-term growth trajectory. And this is just not growth in terms of GDP numbers, right. This really is for the wellbeing of each and every Indian. And that’s the aspiration.

Do you think that one of the problems India has to deal with is inequality? It is still one of the poorest countries in the world, and yet it has the second largest number of billionaires in Asia. People worry about the growing inequality.

If you think about inequality, that’s not only a problem in our country. It’s really the problem all across the world. Income comes from opportunity. You take our own example, as Reliance. My father started Reliance with 100, right. When I joined Reliance in 1980, the market value of Reliance was $30 million or $40 million. And in 30 years, the opportunities that were provided by this country has enabled us to create wealth for India. My father was a big believer that any business that has the sole purpose of making money is not worth doing. Business must serve a larger societal purpose. Reliance raised all its money from capital markets and from individual small shareholders. So we’ve created a million millionaires just by investing in Reliance out of ordinary Indians. And that is the process of creating wealth for the country. Once you create opportunity, wealth comes.

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Topics: Economy • India

soundoff (96 Responses)
  1. Ninan

    India is a difficult country to manage. India will continue to progress although it will take time. The gap between the have and have nots is huge and therefore it will always be a work in progress. Meanwhile India has to be aware of failed and terrorist states like Pakistan who are continously out to give India and the west trouble. In some ways I do agree that Indians are big talkers only. If it was China in India's shoes Pakistan would have been destroyed by the no-nonsense Chinese military.

    February 18, 2013 at 8:27 pm | Reply
    • Ninotchka

      Pakis are doing a great job of destroying themselves – why interfere !?

      February 18, 2013 at 10:18 pm | Reply
  2. SARAH

    Our company has done business in India and it is the most corrupted country on Earth. Kickbacks, blackmails and extortion is their normal way of living. We decided to do business elsewhere.

    February 18, 2013 at 10:00 pm | Reply
    • Uncle Sam

      Sorry Sarah. I invite you to try your luck in our neighboring country. Goodbye, we will not see you on this planet again !

      February 18, 2013 at 10:16 pm | Reply
    • Dunkdon

      India is nod corrupd, your cundry is corrupd.
      Thank you come again

      February 19, 2013 at 7:16 am | Reply
  3. yuyt

    wow.

    February 19, 2013 at 6:46 am | Reply
    • Dunkdon

      Wad is a droone, is it an indian ding?

      February 19, 2013 at 7:18 am | Reply
  4. mique

    They count how many days it has been since their last meal. They count on dying in the streets if they get sick. They count on no toilets. They count on menial jobs with no benefits. They count on arrogant fools like this to save them from the religion that granted them perpetual slavery.

    February 19, 2013 at 8:21 am | Reply
  5. Amazon

    Ambani's are the biggest thieves in India. His father started with Rs100 and then bribed his way up. He used to bribe corrupt bureaucrats to access the files of policies in making. This guy connived with the top politicians and got the oil fields in India at throwaway prices and then connived again with them to raise the price of gas to 7 times more than what was the original agreement. This is the guy who made a billion dollar house overlooking slums in Mumbai to mock their poverty.
    And now he says a Billion people count! The truth is nobody counts in India except top politicians and top businessmen. Others are sometimes just given the lip service. This guy got the petroleum minister Jaipal Reddy removed because he refused to dance to his tunes. Just google 'why was Jaipal Reddy removed' and you'll see the real face of this shameless joker

    February 19, 2013 at 3:17 pm | Reply
  6. Shreyakapoor

    Apart from all fake discussion above. I stay in suburb of Mumbai and into Investment Banking. Even though poverty is there,Hygiene and Infrastructure is issue but on other side i can easily Say India is Going to be Super Power..The amount of projects which are coming through my desk everyday and money flowing into them via Debt and Private equity is Mind Boggling,Huge Airport projects,Highway Projects,Space projects,Defence Projects also The creative entrepreneurs young Indians,Schools,Colleges,Hospitals,Malls,Metros,Monorials,Ac buses etc etc the Quality of Life has definately improved.......People Please don't make any Mistake...India is going to be a Major Contender for its young Population of average age 24..Chinese are already ageing at 35..God bless all....India is where all major investors are lining up whether Walmart,BMW,Posco steel,IBM etc etc if you are not in India you are nuts...God Bless all..

    February 20, 2013 at 4:23 am | Reply
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