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Full transcript of RIL Chairman Mukesh Ambani's fireside chat with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

Ambani said that India will be one of the top three countries in the world.

February 24, 2020 / 08:56 PM IST

Reliance Industries' (RIL) Chairman Mukesh Ambani had a fireside chat with Microsoft's Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Satya Nadella at the Future Decoded CEO 2020 Summit in Mumbai on February 24 where they discussed various aspects of India’s growth story in the coming decade.

Here’s the full transcript of the interview:

Satya Nadella:
So Mukesh, I know and I have heard you speak very passionately about  India's potential, and especially since we were having the conversation about what can the next 10 years represent.  You've talked about how the Indian economy will grow, and how digital will be a big part of it. Maybe share your thoughts on how you see, perhaps, this economy thriving in the next 10 years.

Mukesh Ambani:
Absolutely. Before I answer that Satya, on behalf of all of us welcome to India and Mumbai. And I can tell you that I wanted to warmly congratulate you on your leadership and the transformation and the success of Microsoft over the last many years, and I think every Indian is very very proud.

What I admire and learned that is that if your leadership style has demonstrated ability, if you rely on partnerships and build trusts and relationships, and you think about every mistake as a learning opportunity, and you believe that it's not products or profit but really, people, and their continuous reinvention of capability, that's the strength of the organisation.

I think all of us in India inc are inspired and thank you for all your leadership. Personally, I am very committed, and I'm very privileged Satya that you have committed to India on a scale that I never anticipated that a multinational will, and we're very excited about the partnership that Jio and Microsoft will have. And I think that that will be as we look at this decade, will be a defining partnership. So, thank you for your commitment to India.

Satya Nadella:
Absolutely, thank you.

Mukesh Ambani:
Now, let me answer your question. I think that as we are speaking, President Trump has arrived in Ahmedabad, and the India that he will see in 2020 is very different from the India that either President Carter saw or Clinton saw when he came in ...or even Obama, right?

We are having millions of people in the street. Each one of them having their own personal experience with their phones, and the networks strong enough. And I think I can easily say that the mobile networks in India now are better or at par with anybody else in the world. And that's the big change he will experience when he reaches the stadium. We talked about the stadium, the infrastructure in that in terms of digital is better than any other place in the world. So that is the India as we start in 2020. If you even think about when you first started your own journey when you joined Microsoft in 1992, India was $300 billion.

Today, India is at $3 trillion.

And fundamentally, this whole progress in a certain way, has happened on the back of technology. In the early days it was Rajesh’s TCS, Infosys and all of them who drove technology in India. And that really kick started with the financials and economic reforms, which kick-started this whole growth paradigm. It was supercharged in 2014 when the Prime Minister gave us the vision of Digital India. And if you then see what followed, I was again privileged to play a very small role in it in terms of with the launch of Jio.

And just to share with you and the audience. Pre-Jio, mobile data speeds was at 256 kbps, which we call broadband in India, and post Jio, we now have 21 Mbps on mobile data as the average speed available in every single village in India.

The pre-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 a GB. And the usage. A lot of  what Jio has achieved in the last three years is 380 million customers have migrated to this 4G technology.

And that tells you the enthusiasm in the youth of India. The enthusiasm of consumption in India. And the enthusiasm, even in my mother who's 85 years old, and the amount of time she spends. So, in your language, she has the greatest technical security. I think that's really what has happened. So consumption has also gone up and this has really become a people's movement. And when you talk about the financial sector, we just introduced UPI, and with digitization in December. We had 100 percent growth and the total UPI transactions in this country, digital for two lakh crores. So what has happened is that, because we've got infrastructure, we are accelerating and we are just at the beginning of this whole journey.

Satya Nadella:
And that's one of the things I was going to ask you because, in some sense, all of what you've done in laying out the network capability you talked about has led to this, and in people being empowered consuming more and using more.

And what I mean is that you have the best rates and connectivity today. Now, you also have an ambition to say: What can you do for small, medium and large businesses? In fact our partnership in some senses is about how you take what I talked about, combine it with your domain expertise your technology and completely change the landscape of broad sectoral change.

Mukesh Ambani:

So Satya, let me again start with saying that Reliance was founded as a startup before startups became popular. My father founded Reliance with a table and a chair and Rs 1,000, and this was five decades ago. It then became a micro industry, a small industry, and today you can consider it as a large industry. I have been again, very fortunate in terms of knowing, Steve and Bill from my Stanford days. So there's even before Microsoft was founded Steve was being recruited by Bill and I've seen the growth of Microsoft.

Satya Nadella:

There must have been something in the air since both of you dropped out!

Mukesh Ambani:

And you know why I'm saying this is fundamentally to just drive the point that every small business and entrepreneur, has the potential in India to become Dhirubhai Ambani or Bill Gates. And that is the power that is what differentiates India from the rest of the world.

I think that the entrepreneurial power that we have at the grassroots is enormous. And what this decade will offer. If we even see the opening balance of small, medium and micro enterprises. We have to realise that for India, they really provide 70 percent of India's employment. They drive 40 percent of India's export. And they are critical to all the economic activity that we see. They have had done this, again, with zero technical enablement and adoption. So the opportunity there is to really go from low technology low digitization, and being really portable to adopt technology. And our opportunity with Microsoft is to really give them full service to make sure that they are fully enabled with the tool sets and the data sets.

There's a mindset exists, right, to really propel India forward, and that is even a bigger opportunity than the consumer base that we've seen in the last few years, tremendous. Maybe we can close out. I mean you sort of referenced, how your father, you know, five decades ago, got started with a dream and a hope of what is possible and created what is today, you know, one of the most amazing stories in business. When you now leading this organization. Look out for what drives you What inspires you. What is it that you would like to see happen.

Well, I think that opportunity that we have for India, really, is the opportunity to become the premier digital society in the world. I think that all the components that are coming in place. As we grow and march forward, I have no doubt in my mind that we will become among the top three economies in the world.

Around 30 years ago, we were saying, okay, where will India be now, and I think that if you talk to anybody, there is no doubt in anybody's mind we can argue about whether it will happen in five years of 10 years, but it's gonna happen: we will be in the top three countries in the world. When that happens with our opportunities: Will we be the most technically enabled society? Will we be having all our development enabled by all the tools of technology? Can we really be a pacesetter in terms of using our technology?

And again what our Prime Minister says is can we then use technology so that businesses are easily in business, but we have been a society that is equal, has ethics and really gives equal opportunity to empower everybody to find that potential.

And that, I think, in the coming, two decades, is the opportunity that India has. What next generations of Indians will see is a very different India than what you have grown up in, and I think all of us like should be working towards that our own partnership between God and Microsoft, right? We'll work with businesses from startups to micro enterprises to merchants and shopkeepers to really large enterprises in partnership, really, to drive an equals and business.

In fact, one thing that Akash mentioned, which was sort of really beyond me, is gaming. He said, I think in the next decade, you may become a gamer. That's difficult but, again Akash is very excited in terms of India. Like gaming doesn't really exist in India, and with everything that we're doing in explore and broadband connectivity, I think there is huge potential, and for some of us who don't know what gaming is right, it's very hard to imagine that gaming will be bigger than music, movies and TV shows all put together, but we've been seeing it. Fantastic. Thank you so much. Okay, thank you for your leadership and, thank you.

Disclaimer: Reliance Industries Ltd. is the sole beneficiary of Independent Media Trust which controls Network18 Media & Investments Ltd.

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first published: Feb 24, 2020 06:03 pm