Hopes and prayers for Dhirubhai

Published on Jun 29, 2002 03:06 PM IST

Dhirubhai Ambani wouldn't know it, but as he battles for life at Mumbai's Breach Candy Hospital, the best medical attention isn't all he's got to help him pull through.

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HT Image
None | ByHT Correspondents, Mumbai/ahmedabad

Dhirubhai Ambani wouldn't know it, but as he battles for life at Mumbai's Breach Candy Hospital, the best medical attention isn't all he's got to help him pull through. The multitude of people whose lives he has touched in some way, are paying Dhirubhai back in the currency of hope and prayer.
Brokers in Ahmedabad arranged bhajans at the stock market; powerloom workers from Reliance's Bhiwandi factory offered prayers; so did the Ambanis' former neighbours in Kabutarkhana, Mumbai, where Dhirubhai lived in a two-room tenement with a common toilet till the late sixties.
They haven't forgotten him in Chorwad, Gujarat, either. Dhirubhai grew up there. At the school founded by the Ambanis, children shut their eyes and asked god to help Dhirubhai recover. And those who he grew up with hoped he would come back and spend a few days there once he's better.
Over the days that he has been critically ill, the size of Dhirubhai Ambani's extended family has become apparent. It will only be a slight exaggeration to say that every middle-class family in Gujarat has a Reliance Industries share-holder in it. Many have encashed their shares to get their daughters married. That's a debt that the middle-class doesn't forget easily. That's why they're praying.
But Dhirubhai's more immediate family, the Reliance Group, has decided that the best way to stand by their founder is to work harder. The over-35,000 Reliance employees across India are now working ten hours a day instead of eight. And the company's top management is in the process of raising $400 million from overseas markets to fund two infrastructure projects in Jamnagar. The message: if you add industry to hope and prayer, you can survive the worst crises.

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