Mukesh Ambani, Chairman of Reliance Industries Limited, urged executives from other technology companies in India and the government to work in tandem in providing the countrymen with tools and making investment in new ideas as the country scrambles to find ways to succeed in the new digital age. The remark from India's richest man comes as he delivered a keynote speech at the first India Mobile Congress on Wednesday.
India missed cashing in on the first three industrial revolutions, Ambani said as a crowd of about 1,000 people maintained silence to listen to him. But for the fourth industrial revolution - which involves data - we are well positioned to take advantage of it, he added. Data and a device to consume it will be the weapon to help Indians embrace the digital age, he added.
"Data is the new oil. India does not need to import it. We have it in super abundance. As an industry, we have the urgent task of employing 1.3 billion people with the tools. Data is the [new] oxygen," Ambani, whose telecom operator Reliance Jio has gained more than 100 million subscribers in less than a year, said. "We have to provide ubiquitous, high speed internet data at affordable prices. We also have to ensure that every Indian has access to affordable smartphone.
Ambani, who described Sunil Mittal of rival telecom operator Airtel as a friend, said the country has already shown the world its potential by leapfrogging from the 150th position in mobile broadband consumption to number one in the span of less than a year. Now, the companies should attempt to guide Indians to play strong in other fields as well, he said. "If we give Indians the right tool, they will transform India into the home of a million startups," he added.
But that's not all, he added. We need to invest in new ideas from people, Ambani said. "Our human capital is our greatest asset [...] Digital technology can be a boon for everyone, especially people in villages," he added.