Nita nurtured the tree of Dhirubhai’s values

   By Vijay Darda | 11-03-2024

It is the power of character that protects one from the storms of time

It is so easy to lose humility when one acquires a small amount of wealth or gains a bit of fame. Such people strut around with a false sense of pride, a misplaced sense of achievement. They fail to appreciate the power of time and cannot anticipate life’s storms which can uproot even the largest of trees. It is here that imbibed values that define character make a difference. It is, therefore, heartening to see that the seeds of values planted by Dhirubhai Ambani and Kokila Ben are not only well rooted but thriving in the Ambani family. The credit for this not only goes to Mukesh Ambani but also to Nita Ambani, who diligently nurtured the tree Dhirubhai planted.

The pre-wedding ceremony of Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant is being talked about all over the world. Observing the ceremony through videos, everyone is expressing admiration for the humility displayed by the affluent Ambani family’s youngest son. A simple village woman gave him a crumpled ten or twenty rupee note as a gesture of her blessings. The tradition of blessing betrothed couples and giving them a small token as a mark of love is still prevalent in rural India. Anant bowed as he accepted the gift with folded hands while the woman affectionately blessed him by placing her hands on his head. The woman then presented a saree to Radhika who too warmly embraced the gift. This poignant scene evokes deep emotions. Not only Anant but his sister Isha and brother Akash are also as humble as Kolila Ben, Mukesh and Nita Ambani.

Akash’s wife Shloka is also a very unassuming religious lady. When someone asked him about the possibility of the two brothers ever parting ways, Anant responded by likening Akash to a father figure and Isha to a mother thereby emphasizing the strong familial bonds that exist among them. Separation is simply out of the question.

Let me narrate an incident from just last month. Lokmat Media Group’s ‘Maharashtrian Of The Year Awards’ ceremony was held at the historic Gateway of India in Mumbai. Naturally, there were no luxury chairs; there was a comfortable seating arrangement but not exactly with plush upholstery. Isha Ambani was awarded the ‘Youth Icon Award’ in that ceremony. Mukesh Ambani graced the function leading to some of my colleagues suggesting that a different chair be arranged for him. Mukesh Bhai declined the offer and chose to sit on the same chair as everyone else for the entire hour and a half!

I would also like to share two instances that show Dhirubhai’s humility and foresight. When my father, veteran freedom fighter Jawaharlal Darda was the Industries Minister of Maharashtra in the eighties, I had the opportunity to introduce Dhirubhai to him. From that point on, our bond grew stronger. I would send him a letter for the Diwali special edition of Lokmat. One year, I forgot to write to him. Lokmat had established itself by that time. To my utter surprise, I received a call from Dhirubhai. “Vijay, your letter has not arrived. I know that Lokmat no longer needs support but we still need Lokmat! Please send the letter and accept our advertisement,” he said.

I was contesting elections in 1998. Dhirubhai called me and asked me to meet him immediately. I went to his office. He said, you would also need the votes of the Samajwadi Party. I was surprised at his foresight, and said yes, I would need them. Mukesh Bhai and Anil Bhai were also present there. Dhirubhai said, “call Mulayam Singh”. The SP leader was called to Mumbai and a meeting with him was arranged for me the following day. Mulayam Singh immediately instructed Amar Singh, resulting in me securing four votes from the Samajwadi Party. Dhirubhai asked if I would need anything else and I politely told him that nothing else was needed. The intense depth of relationships was his foresight!

It has been reported that the Ambani family spent `1,000 crore for the pre-wedding celebrations. A cruise party and grand wedding ceremony are scheduled to take place in Mumbai in July. Throughout history, wealthy industrialists and politicians have hosted expensive weddings. An average individual typically spends at least ten per cent of earnings on children’s weddings. The Ambani family’s total wealth is estimated to be around `7.65 lakh crore. Even one per cent of this amount comes to `7,650 crores! The Ambani family graciously hosted fifty thousand guests from Jamnagar for dinner, personally serving food to many. Reliance employees were also invited for dinner and thanked with return gifts. Such gestures are truly heart-touching!

It is important to underscore the fact that this marriage is taking place in India. Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had urged the rich to choose India as a wedding destination instead of foreign lands. This seemingly simple call holds significant implications. Hosting grand weddings within the country means development of local infrastructure and creation of employment opportunities for the people. Mukesh Ambani has respected the Prime Minister’s words.

Here I would like to once again discuss the compassionate side of Anant. He has a deep affection for the silent creatures of the world. Vantara, the largest animal rescue and rehabilitation centre in Asia located in Jamnagar, spans around three thousand acres. Here, not only are injured animals cared for, but rare species are also protected. Anant is deeply involved in Vantara, with Radhika by his side. The primary goal of Vantara is not profit, but rather service. Anant holds a special admiration for the soldiers defending the nation and the police safeguarding the citizens. In Mumbai, air-cooled posts have been constructed at various locations for police officers to comfortably carry out their duties and rest when necessary.

To such compassionate souls, Anant Ambani and his future partner Radhika, I extend my best wishes!

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