Nita Ambani dons a hat with many feathers – savvy entrepreneur, empathetic philanthropist, able homemaker, and, undoubtedly, one of India’s most powerful women. Wife of Mukesh Ambani, the Chairperson of India’s largest private sector company, she is considered one of the major driving forces behind his success. She herself is a powerhouse of energy, skill, and originality.
Nita Ambani is the Founder and Chairperson of Reliance Foundation, a Non-Executive Director of Reliance Industries (RIL), and owner of the Indian Premier League franchise, Mumbai Indians. She is also the Founder of Dhirubhai Ambani International School (DAIS) and Football Sports Development Limited.
The 2016 edition of Forbes magazine lists her amongst the most influential women business leaders in Asia. She also features in the Fifty High and Mighty Indians list published by India Today.
In 2013, SCSVMV University, Kanchipuram conferred upon her an honorary doctorate for her contributions to the social sector. In 2012, the All India Management Association honored her with the ‘Corporate Citizen of the Year’ award. She was described as the ‘Most Powerful Woman in Indian Business’ by Business Today in 2011.
In January 2017, she was honored by the Metropolitan Museum of Art for her extensive philanthropic work in various fields. She received the award from Tom Campbell, CEO and director of the museum in an event in New York.
About Nita Ambani-
Personal Life of Nita Ambani-
Nita Ambani was born on November 1, 1963 in Mumbai to Purnimaben and Ravindrabhai Dalal.
She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Narsee Monjee College of Commerce and Economics. She is also a trained Bharatanatyam dancer and often performs the classical dance form as a hobby. Indeed, the Nita Dalal of the 60s and 70s could well be the girl next door.
Fast-forward to the present time and she is credited with providing impetus to various philanthropic initiatives of RIL in her role as the head of Reliance Foundation. Through its collaboration with the Foundation, RIL has already touched the lives of more than four million people, in more than 5,500 villages and urban locations across India.
Nita Ambani as a Businesswoman-
In addition, as a Non-Executive, Non-Independent Director on the Board of RIL, Nita Mukesh Ambani is engaged in several initiatives that have strengthened the company. Two notable endeavors are building a world-class township in Jamnagar and developing next-generation office campuses, healthcare initiatives, and customer touch points for Reliance Retail.
Nita Ambani leads 13 schools that educate more than 15,000 students, and has successfully set up and led institutions, including the Dhirubhai Ambani International School (DAIS), of which she is Founder and Chairperson. Through the medium of DAIS, Nita focusses on creating an atmosphere of learning that children enjoy and one that encourages them to discover and express their talents to the fullest.
Her Contribution toward Sports-
She also owns the cricket franchise, Mumbai Indians, one of the most successful teams in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Besides, as Founding Chairperson of Football Sports Development, she believes that the Indian Super League (ISL) will overhaul football in the country.
On June 3, 2016, Nita Ambani was among eight candidates nominated for membership in the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and was formally elected as an individual member of the IOC later that week at its 129th session, thereby becoming India’s first female member of the committee. She will continue to be a member till she turns 70.
Furthermore, her contribution towards enhancing the quality of sports for children is unparalleled. The Reliance Foundation Youth Sports (RFYS), has proven to be a huge success. The program has been established to improve the state of affairs of the sport right at the grassroots level. It regularly organizes tournaments to help students showcase their talent.
Mrs. Ambani’s Work with Reliance Foundation-
In January 2017, she was honored by the Metropolitan Museum of Art for her extensive philanthropic work in various fields including education, sports, healthcare and women’s empowerment. Recognition from such a prestigious institution has been one of her greatest achievements to date. She received her trophy from Tom Campbell, CEO and director of museum at their event Winter Ball.
In July 2017, Reliance Foundation, an organization of which she is the Chairperson, also adopted four villages in Gujarat that were affected badly by floods. She personally visited the districts and supervised the rescue operations and even ensured that every victim was rehabilitated.
In August 2017, Nita Ambani-led Reliance Foundation was awarded the Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Award during the national sports awards ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi. She accepted the award on behalf of RF from India’s honorable President Ram Nath Kovind.
She was also on the cover of the Vogue magazine accompanied by Shah Rukh Khan and Mithali Raj, as part of their 10th anniversary special, which also featured the women of the year.
In December 2017, Nita Ambani topped the list of business leaders who trended on Google Search in the entirety of the year 2017 along with her husband Mukesh Ambani.
Nita Ambani is much more than the sum of all the above mentioned awards and recognition. Testimonials from those who have worked with her have always portrayed her as someone who’s genuine, honest and willing to take that extra step required.
Nita Ambani and Mukesh Ambani Marriage:
1985 marked the foray of Nita into the illustrious Ambani family.
The story goes that young Nita Dalal was performing at a popular cultural event. In attendance were the late Dhirubhai Ambani and his wife Kokilaben. Her flawless performance stole their hearts.
A day later, she received a call from Dhirubhai. Hailing from a humble background herself, Nita could not imagine why the businessman would contact her. Thinking it was a “wrong number”, she hung up. On receiving his call the second time, Nita said, “If you are Dhirubhai Ambani, then I’m Elizabeth Taylor”, and hung up again. It was then that her father, Ravindrabhai, urged her to speak courteously. Obediently, she greeted Dhirubhai with a warm “Jai Shree Krishna” on the third call.
The outcome of the ensuing conversation was a meeting at Dhirubhai’s office, where, among other questions, he gently asked her if she would like to meet his son, Mukesh. Nita agreed and their initial meeting was followed by several more.
Once, while they were out together, the car stopped at a red signal on Peddar Road. The otherwise dreaded signal played Cupid that day; Mukesh Ambani proposed to Nita Dalal right there. What’s more; he refused to move until she said yes!
The gods smiled on the happy couple and Nita accepted his proposal. Her parents, too, were pleased with the alliance.
Nita and Mukesh wed on March 8, 1985.
Nita Mukesh Ambani’s Family-
Nita represents the modern Indian woman – excelling in her career while upholding traditional family values.
Her husband, Mukesh Dhirubhai Ambani, is an Indian business magnate. He is the chairman, managing director and largest shareholder of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), a Fortune Global 500 company and India’s second most valuable company by market value. Its subsidiary, Reliance Retail Limited, is the largest retailer in India.
Mukesh Ambani has consistently held the title of India’s richest person on the Forbes list for ten years. In 2012, Forbes also named him one of the richest sports owners in the world. In 2015, Ambani ranked fifth among India’s philanthropists, according to China’s Hurun Research Institute.
Besides, he has served on the Board of Directors of Bank of America Corporation and the International Advisory Board of the Council on Foreign Relations. He was the Chairman of the Board of the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, which is one of the leading business schools in India.
In 1991, Nita Mukesh Ambani gave birth to twins, Akash and Isha. Akash Ambani is the Chief Strategy Officer of Jio, an upcoming 4G service provider, and an avid cricketer. He also has been playing a key role in the functioning of Mumbai Indians. This includes actively participating in the team and management meetings, where he has proved to be a useful member while working closely with his mother. Isha Ambani is a co-director at Jio and Reliance Retail. Their younger brother, Anant Ambani, is pursuing higher studies in the US. The youngster made headlines in early 2016 when he lost a staggering 108 kilograms in less than 18 months. Nita Ambani is credited with being the driving force behind this incredible feat.
The Ambani family resides in Mumbai at the Antilia Building, one of the world’s most expensive private residences.
Achievements of Nita Ambani-
Contribution toward Social Causes-
Nita Ambani led Reliance Foundation does extensive work in the fields of health, education, and rural development. The organization has contributed a lot towards the improvement of the lives of those who are sidelined by many. That includes those living in the many impoverished areas of the country and other small-time villages and towns, where a majority of the people are into agriculture. Various charitable ventures, diverse community engagement activities, etc. are held so that there is a positive impact in these parts of the country.
Bharat India Jodo (BIJ) is one of its programs directly involved in empowering villagers to engage in their respective occupations through sustainable methods. De-risking farming and to decrease the number of external dependencies are the two main aspects of the program. It supports low-cost investment to produce a high yield in agriculture, thereby helping farmers increase their productivity, and as a result, their income. The BIJ program also organizes farmers in collectives to leverage the power of unity. This is being carried out by Mrs. Ambani on a very large scale with the hope that the gap between rural and urban India is significantly shortened.
She was also the recipient of the ‘Samaj Seva Vishwa Bhushan’ award at the Bharat Nari Shakti event held in 2005.
Besides, healthcare initiatives like Drishti have made a positive difference in the lives of the visually challenged community in India. As part of this initiative for specially-abled children, Mrs. Ambani also launched a Braille newspaper. Titled “Reliance Drishti”, the free newspaper is entirely written in Braille code and is expected to reach more than twenty thousand children across 300 institutes in the country. A noble initiative, this is clearly the way forward for Reliance Foundation, the not-for-profit organization that made this feat possible. A lot of publications in India and around the world lauded this move by Nita Ambani and congratulated for thinking about a community that often gets sidelined.
Nita Ambani and Involvement in Sports-
Nita Ambani’s IPL franchise, Mumbai Indians, is working with the Foundation to support initiatives like the Education for All (EFA) program. The goal is to elevate the social status of marginalized communities while also improving their financial conditions. Under this program, the organization aims that every child should have access to good quality education. Mumbai Indians funds the program for the education and development of over 1 lakh underprivileged children. Individual team members such as Sachin Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma, Harbhajan Singh, etc actively support and campaign for the initiative.
Nita Ambani’s comprehensive social work was also acknowledged at the All India Management Association (AIMA) Managing India Awards, where she was bestowed with the ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ award.
Nita Ambani’s noteworthy work in the field of sports, including grassroots football programs, has received global recognition. This is one of the reasons behind her nomination for membership in the International Olympic Committee (IOC). She went on to be elected and become the first female IOC member representing India. This has ensured that she would help facilitate the growth of sports in the country.
Her first contribution as India’s representative at IOC involved addressing the delegates at the ‘Sport at the service of humanity’ conference held by the Vatican in conjunction with the United Nations and the IOC. Pope Francis hosted this conference, which was attended by over 150 world leaders including then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and IOC President Thomas Bach.
In this conference, she spoke about how sports has a deep impact on society and can help overcome the many differences that are part of it. Relevant case studies from the Reliance Foundation’s many youth-focused sports programs were also shared by her, that highlighted the transformational power of sport, not just for an individual but also for their community, country and the world.
In addition to being a member, she was also made a member of two commissions in April 2017. Mrs. Ambani was appointed as a member of the Olympic Channel Commission (OCC) and Olympic Education Commission, two of the 26 newly composed commissions by the IOC. As of today, she is one of the 16 members of OCC, which strengthens her role as an IOC member.
Awards and Recognition Won by Nita Mukesh Ambani-
Reliance Foundation was awarded the Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Award in 2017. This was on account of their continued efforts in the fields of rural transformation, women empowerment, etc. Furthermore, the focus of the organization was also on sports, which they believed would encourage learning and be a catalyst for leadership among the youth in impoverished regions of the country. The award was accepted by Nita Mukesh Ambani from the President Ram Nath Kovind during the national sports awards ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi.
Another respectable award bestowed upon her was the one by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in recognition of her various charitable initiatives undertaken in a multitude of fields such as education, sports, etc. She admits that it was one of the greatest honors of her career, as she received the trophy from Tom Campbell, CEO and director of the museum at their event Winter Ball.
Nita Ambani’s Contribution-
Toward Women Empowerment-
While Nita Ambani’s pursuits with regard to several social initiatives are varied, a cause that remains very close to her heart is the subject of women empowerment in India. She displayed her full support to this cause by co-hosting the Women in the World Summit, held at the Taj Mahal Hotel, Delhi. She expressed her views on the subject by recalling the numerous women who inspired her through her journey while working with Reliance Foundation.
Toward Country-wide Cleanliness Programs-
When PM Modi announced the “Swachhta Hi Seva” movement in 201X, Reliance Foundation enthusiastically supported that. Led by Nita Ambani, RF immediately launched a widespread cleanliness campaign in its operational areas in various parts of the country in order to achieve the goals of this program. Several activities were held in the states of Karnataka, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, etc. With the help of volunteers including teachers, panchayat officials, a number of rallies were held, whose main objective was to make aware to the people of the multiple issues related to cleanliness and hygiene. This, along with clean-up drives (participated by several thousand) helped clean those areas.
Toward Healthcare and Disaster Assistance-
A major project launched by Reliance Foundation which gave the gift of sight to many Indians is the Drishti program. The initiative has so far carried out more than 12,000 corneal transplants with Nita Ambani’s active participation in the same. She is also closely involved with the UNAIDS partnership with Reliance Industries that works to control the Indian HIV epidemic.
One of the other additions to Nita Ambani’s social causes is Reliance Foundation’s Mission Rahat. The initiative was aimed at reaching out to the victims afflicted by the earthquake which occurred in Nepal in April 2015. The mission extended help to the most affected regions like Sindhupalchok, Nuwakot, and Dhading. The Foundation’s rescue mission also consolidated with Red Cross Nepal to provide timely help to victims of the earthquake in the form of food kits, tents, and household kits.
In the Field of Education-
The Education for All (EFA) is another initiative by Nita Ambani’s Reliance Foundation. It has positively impacted the lives of nearly 70,000 underprivileged children. The program provides quality education to these children by helping them gain access to the necessary facilities. With support from Mumbai Indians, it also gives these children a chance to watch matches played by the team.
Toward Art and Culture-
Nita Ambani is also a serious contributor in the fields of art and culture. A testament to this fact is her recent felicitation by New York’s Met Museum. In January 2017, the Metropolitan Museum of Art honored her for her philanthropic work in most relevant fields and appreciated her for promoting arts in her own country and elsewhere. This is definitely a golden feather in her hat as she hopes to build a museum in India soon. Shortly after this, in April 2017, Mrs. Ambani was awarded the prestigious Pravinchandra V Gandhi Award by the Rotary Club of Bombay for her role in education and sports in India.
In the Field of Sports-
She has always stated her desire to witness the birth of a new, more sports-oriented country, where there exists an ecosystem that will not only encourage youngsters to take up sports but will also provide every child with a platform to nurture his or her talent. Now, with her becoming a member of the IOC, she can help create more opportunities for the children, for the future sportspersons of the country. Reliance Foundation Youth Sports (RFYS), her brainchild, is just one implementation of that desire.
Even the Indian Super League, of which she is an integral part of, showcases the efforts taken by her in order to develop grassroots programs all over the country. The expansion of the league ensures that the reach of those efforts is widespread. The impact of these programs is seen directly; over 3.3 million kids are/have been part of this and now have opportunities to pursue a career in sports.
What’s more, with the recent positive development of India hosting the FIFA U17 World Cup, the progress is clearly seen. In the 2017 edition of the ISL, an inspiring campaign was launched which was dedicated to India. This TVC was titled “Future Hai Football”, which translates to football is the future. The whole idea behind this campaign is to showcase the fact that the global sport is now finding home in India as well and that the nation does have the potential to reach greater heights in the same, with the continued efforts of Reliance Foundation, ISL and AIFF (All India Football Federation).
Indeed, Nita Ambani’s labor of love is an inspiration for all. Her strong ideals and business skills are an expression of the power of today’s Indian woman. Under her guidance, Reliance Foundation continues to light up the lives of many while her involvement in RIL contributes to making the company a force to reckon with.
Needless to say, Nita Mukesh Ambani is an inspiration to many. As becomes a person of her stature, she carries herself with poise and dexterity and ably fulfills the position of power and responsibility she holds in India’s corporate and social fabric.