India Can Become the Premier Digital Society of the World, RIL Chairman Mukesh Ambani Tells Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

In a thought-provoking conversation with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella at the Future Decoded CEO 2020 Summit in Mumbai, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) chairman Mukesh Ambani said India has “the opportunity to become the premier digital society in the world” given the progress the country has been made in terms of technology and connectivity over the past few years.

“Think about 1992 when you [Nadella] joined Microsoft, India was $300 billion. Today, India is $3 trillion. And fundamentally, this whole progress has happened on the back of technology… economic reforms kick-started this whole growth paradigm and it was supercharged in 2014 when the Prime Minister gave us the vision of Digital India,” Ambani told Nadella, adding how he has been “privileged to play a small role in it” with the launch of Jio.

Nadella is on a three-day visit to India.

Highlighting Jio’s impact and its role in propelling the growth of digital connectivity and infrastructure in India, Ambani said that prior to Jio, average broadband speeds were abysmal whereas post Jio mobile data speeds average at 21 Mbps “in every single village in India”.

Similarly, Ambani said that before Jio, price of data in this country was between Rs 300 and Rs 500. And for the poorest of poor people who use 2G, the prices were as high as Rs 10,000. Post-Jio the price is between Rs 12 and Rs 14 per GB. And what Jio has achieved in the last three years, is that (38 crore people) 380 million customers have migrated to 4G technology, he said.

Taking the example of UPI and the 100 per cent growth in UPI transactions, Ambani asserted that India has got the infrastructure and “we’re accelerating and we are just at the beginning of this whole journey”.

Giving the example of his father, Dhirubhai Ambani, who founded Reliance five decades ago with “a table and a chair and Rs 1000”, Ambani said that strong digital infrastructure and connectivity is a key driver of growth among medium and small businesses and that every small business and entrepreneur has the potential in India to become Dhirubhai Ambani or Bill Gates.

“Small, medium and micro-enterprises really provide 70 per cent of India’s employment and 40 per cent of India’s exports and they are critical to all the economic activity that we see. They have had done this with zero technical enablement. So, the opportunity is to really go from low technology, low digitization… [to] making sure that they are fully enabled with the toolset, the data set, which is what our partnership with Microsoft intends to do,” Ambani said.

Pointing out India’s demographic dividend, he said, “I have no doubt in my mind that we will become among the top three economies in the world. There is no doubt in anybody's mind. We can argue about whether it will happen in five years or 10 years but it's going to happen, and we will be in the top three countries in the world.”

Earlier in the conversation, Ambani, as he praised Nadella for his leadership and Microsoft’s commitment towards India, said that the partnership between Microsoft and Jio will be a defining partnership of this decade.

Disclosure: is part of Network18 Media & Investment Limited which is owned by Reliance Industries Limited.