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Pirated Edition of “The Polyester Prince”: The Rise of Dhirubhai Ambani

You’ll get the pirated edition of “The Polyester Prince “at the signals in South Mumbai…don’t pay more than Rs 100

Today’s Sunday Mid Day devotes a whole page to it…….The Book was written in 1998 by Hamish McDonald who in 1991 was appointed to run the India Country desk from New Delhi for “Far Eastern Econimc Review”. He now is the Asia-Pacific Editor of the “Sydney Morning Herald”

The idea of the book actually came in 1992 after the author had met the late Mr Dhirubhai Ambani a few times beginning in 1991 with the Invitation to the marriage of his son Anil Ambani with the Film Actress Tina Munim

The Pirated Print is not too good, but the book does give some insight into the enormous risk taking abilities of the late Dhirubhai Ambani and where the End often justified the Means adopted.

Born on December 28, 1932, Dhirubhai Ambani sowed the seeds for the Reliance Empire soon after he returned from Aden in 1958…. before he crossed 30 years of age… he went on to becoming an icon and also is considered as the father of the Modern Equity Cult.

This controversial book was never really released in India by the Original Publishers Harper Collins as it saw an endless round of litigation ahead with the Reliance Group who had applied for and obtained injunctions against publication on grounds of anticipated defamation as the relationship between the author and the Ambanis had soured after the author wrote a few articles against them

Dhirubhai Ambani passed away in July 2002 and his two sons, Mukesh and Anil soon came to loggerheads leading to an inevitable split of the Reliance Empire

The continuing feud, often vitrolic and bitter, has given strength to a sentiment that National Interests are far more important than Ambani Interests…. moreover it has brought this Book on Dhirubhai Ambani back into the limelight…… I’m sure McDonald must be tempted now to write a sequel to cover this feud…He needed 274 pages to cover the rise of the late Dhirubhai Ambani… he may need twice as much to cover the two sons 

I was junior to Mukesh and Anil in the Jewish run Hill Grange High School (Closed down years ago) on Peddar Road in Mumbai…. the late Dhirubhai Ambani sometimes delivered the lunch tiffin himself to his boys. In the late 1980’s I had an opportunity to interact very briefly with Anil who had approached me through the  DSJ Publication Group for scripting and making a small film on Reliance. This was in the backdrop of V P Singh’s zeal to bring down the Group and the Share price of Reliance being battered on the Bourses. I never got round to doing the film because I conveyed a stance that while I would highlight the Positives I would not be biased.

Today, while I wish both Mukesh and Anil all the best in their business forays… just a little feedback… keep an eye on the Integrity and  Credibility of your Teams… many may not share your vision or just pay it lip service…. and may just be with you for the Money… one way or the other !

It was therefore easy for me to connect with the book as I have lived and observed the sagas of the Larsen Takeover Bid through BOB Fiscal, the excitement that Reliance Equity Issues generated on the Bourses,Orkay’s Kapil Mehra trying in vain to take on the Ambanis, V P Singh’s zealous mission (he nearly succeeded) in bringing down the Reliance Group, Enmity between the Wadias and Ambanis,t he Indian Express going hammer and Tongs at Reliance exposing the plethora of cases of Evasion of Various Duties, Reliance’s own unsuccesful media forays and many other vicissitudes of the Reliance Group 

What McDonald misses out is to highlight and emphasise  the grit and courage and the far vision that the late Dhirubhai Ambani displayed when aggressively taking on the monopolies of several business houses who were both complacent and comfortable in their belief that they ruled Indian Business and even our Stock Markets!

If you read the book the author’s demeanour clearly becomes obvious… it is derogatory and defaming….. he maintains this thread right through the book giving credence to the  suspicion that he had a hidden agenda in writing this book… in that it is to be read more as an expose rather than a biography

The sad fact is that you either hated or loved the late Dhirubhai Ambani but you could not ignore him! the debate will rage on whether in India a budding entrepreneur can achieve his vision on a big scale without compromising on principles and values and without successfully lobbying the Government…… the happy fact is that the success of the late Dhirubhai Ambani has spawned atleast a million Indians to Dream Big and endeavour to act out their Dreams   

To me the late Dhirubhai Ambani showed what an Entrepreneur can achieve in India if he is fearless and has a  broader Vision in mind … Tell me how many Industrialists have taken the masses along with them to riches by making them partners and shareholders in Equity ?!…… To me what he did was breaking a Catch 22 situation… he had to do what he did in order to do what he had to do !…. He dreamed Big and demonstrated this Dream in Size and Scale befitting a Great Democracy like India……. His detractors, Oh ! there were and still are many, accused him of getting Laws and Policies amended to grow in size and capture markets…….h e had the audacity to confront them and scream at them “you complain of me now but all of you have slept with me!”  

Sadly the legacy of the late Dhirubhai Ambani is being threatened by the growing feud between the sons that has left even the most loyal of Reliance Shareholders questioning the fate of the split Group now….. sadly the feud will again bring into focus the dangerous nexus between Industrialists, Bankers, Politicians, Bureaucrats, Brokers, Media and yes even the underworld

Can we ever have Moral Leadership and Clean Business ever again in India ?

My Heart says “Yes”… my Head says “No”

One Final Comment… Yes I have read the Book and it has not changed my views on what the late Dhirubhai Ambani acheived against challenging odds and archaic laws that kept India in shackles and prevented it from growing Business to a Global Scale… ofcourse I too have reservations about some of the Means adopted… but on the bigger scale of things he could not have broken barriers that needed to be broken if he had not…. Breaking a Catch 22 situation as I said earlier

Both, Anil and Mukesh are risk takers and must take this risk of allowing the publication of this Book in India now… it may just work in their favour… it’s always a more courageous and better option to face ambivalence rather than camouflage it… your father did this wonderfully well…. leaves little place to dangerously speculate or second guess the action and thought process in your Groups… why you think and act the way you do!  


6 thoughts on “Pirated Edition of “The Polyester Prince”: The Rise of Dhirubhai Ambani”

  1. dear gaurav,
    apologies for that hastily written mail which even sounds rude now, to me. i have been searching for this book last 2 days and drawn a blank everywhere… i will certainly contact someone in mumbai to check the signal lights sellers and get a copy.
    meanwhile i have been reading your blogs with captivating interest. you are a good analyst and interpeter…there is so much to know and learn through your thoughts.
    god bless you..

  2. Hi Meera,

    Thanks for your flattering response…glad you are enjoying my blogs as much as I enjoy writing them

    Cheers !

  3. Hi Gauravji,

    could you please give me the contact where can I find the book or else can I get the e book I have only 189 pages e-book I haven’t find the complete version.
    could you please mail me the complete book.


    1. Yeah Sameer…am pissed off with how deliberately the PSU Banks have been allowed to rot with NPAs & on the bourses and will be posting my views on this shortly

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