Mukesh D. Ambani is the Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries Limited, India's largest business house and the first and only private sector company from India to feature in the 2004 Fortune Global 500 list of 'World's Largest Corporations, Mr Ambani is also the Chairman of Indian Petrochemicals Corporation Ltd. and a Director of Reliance Europe Ltd. Mr Ambani is currently involved in rolling out Reliance Infocomm Limited – one of the world's largest and most complex information and communications technology initiatives. Mr Ambani is the Chairman of the Foundation for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, in Geneva. In India, Mukesh D. Ambani is Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology, and the Chairman, Board of Trustees of The Indian Institute of Software Engineering. Mr Ambani is a member of the Prime Minister's Council on Trade and Industry, the Board of Governors of the National Council of Applied Economic Research; the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR); and of the Advisory Council of the Indian Banks' Association. Mr Ambani earned his Bachelor of Chemical Engineering degree from the University of Bombay and an MBA from Stanford University, USA. Mr Ambani is the recipient of a great many prestigious national and international awards and honours.
Information and communications technology will be central to the networked society. It will not be only a question of hardware. Ubiquitous communications and social networking software will facilitate the organisation of social interactions and forge new communities. As wireless moves ahead, it will redefine how government interacts with citizens and transform the lives of people in remote areas. Networks will reform the structure of societies and redefine the business landscape. Technology can propel India to leadership in a networked world.
The technological revolution currently sweeping the globe offers India an exciting opportunity to bring about a quantum leap in its developmental journey. It is now possible for India to join the ranks of great powers within the span of our generation. Technological breakthroughs now make it possible to banish poverty, illiteracy and malnutrition from the lives of all our people. Opportunities to make all this a reality are knocking at our doors because we are moving to a networked world. In such a world, there will be new forms and formats of living. This will impact not just on society, but also business and polity. Technology will pull down geographical and political barriers and close the gaps of time and space. Technology will be central to the networked society. Within technology, information technology and communications will be the key. This is simply because networked societies depend on the flow of information. Here again two technologies will play a key role – the Internet and wireless communication. The Internet will be more about connecting people to people than connecting people to portals and websites. It will take the form of a network of identities and relationships that transcend corporate or national affiliations. On one plane, the creation of new communities will come about by associations of shared interests and goals brought together in the virtual world. On another plane, new social networking software would be in vogue. Social networking software will mine web traffic and look for new relationships to acquire customers. They would also help analyse patterns of behaviour among existing communities to help improve the value of relationships through, for example, higher sales. Social networking software would also optimise the organisation of social interactions. This could take the form of shared purchases and unified articulation of issues. Globalisation will induce greater collaboration across borders. The pressure to increase efficiency and productivity will force companies to collaborate like never before. In manufacturing, different components of the production process will be located in different places of competitive advantage. Such forms of collaborative manufacturing would spread to every other sector. In research, an explosion of knowledge and greater specialisation will force science-based collaboration. In business, a move towards standard common business processes will improve efficiency and productivity. In new initiatives, increasing risks will entail strategic alliances for risk mitigation. New lifestyles will change social organisation. Family systems will face the challenge of accommodating diversity of aspirations. Migration of professionals within the country and across borders will create new nodes for social organisation in alien territories. Extended life span, caused by modern medicine, will bring about a new social demography. Greater competition will alter the work-life balance. The world will shift to a brutal work culture punctuated by intensive competition, right sizing and increasingly demanding professional skill sets. The need to earn in the prime of a shorter working life will be immense. This will conflict with the need to lead a higher quality of living over a longer life span and will create enormous physical and mental pressures. Such pressures will pave the way for individuals to seek new sources of emotional bondage outside the family. The ubiquity of communications will forge new communities. The Internet and satellite television will vastly expand the global reach of communities bonded by common goals and interests. Lastly, the concept of a nation state will become obscure, caused by the strengthening of multilateral trading blocks, greater migration of professionals across borders and increasing acceptance of dual citizenship. Greater global scrutiny will question sovereignty, as a right to do whatever a government likes within its borders. New global information infrastructures will emerge in such areas as meteorology, energy, security, trade and industry. Wireless technologies will force their way into more and more sectors. Today, wireless is used mainly to move information. In the future, wireless will be used to promote collaboration over a wide range. E-learning among community groups in an income and location independent framework, will become increasingly important, and will let teachers and parents collaborate in monitoring the progress of students. Wireless will link doctors with patients in remote regions, and the remote monitoring of the elderly in homes, and critical care patients in hospitals, will reduce the burden upon both the family and public facilities. Wireless will deliver government services to people in remote areas. The remote, automatic monitoring of streets will foster better internal security and reduce crime. Wireless communications will link the transportation systems in the supply chain and bring reduced costs and more timely deliveries. Information -enabled farming and fishing communities, collaborative robotics in manufacturing, disaster response and warfare will all be facilitated by wireless. Virtual product design and testing, rapid prototyping for mass customisation or for specific user group needs, the transmission of field data to control systems and control rooms, remote maintenance of field equipment, collaborative tele-working in a location independent framework and promoting gaming within communities are all on the list of activities that wireless will enhance; the list is virtually endless. Greater connectivity among citizens, communities, and companies will be the sum and effect of all these developments. The drive to connect will grow by leaps and bounds. Networks reform the morphology of societies. It will go far beyond caste, community, race and religious connections. Networks will redefine the landscape of businesses. We believe in fostering the development of a networked world in India through its next-generation information and communications network spanning the length and breadth of India. This will be based both on Internet and on wireless technologies. ICT–Information and Communication Technology–has made a deep impact across the length and breadth of India. India boasts some of the world’s lowest entry costs and the world’s lowest usage charges for any telecommunications service; ICT is re-defining an entire industry. Wireless operators have acquired millions of new customers this last year. More importantly, a surge in data applications is being brought about. Data services are now generating countless millions of hits per day, even surpassing the data usage of many developed countries. All this demonstrates the readiness of the Indian people to use advanced technology, given the right impetus of costs, access, and services. Today, applications development laboratories are developing several networking applications on both wireline and wireless platforms. Electronic school applications, to bring parents and teachers together virtually through the Internet or using mobile technology, are one example. A social networking application to bring common user groups together on a wireless platform is another. Fleet management on a wireless platform for the transportation community is one more case in point. For the ICT sector, the mobile revolution is only a beginning. The next step, going beyond the mobile revolution, is to bring about a broadband revolution. A networked world is no longer a figment of imagination. It is steeped in reality. Concepts such as friendship flow charts and community cascades will be in vogue. As networks get bigger, their value to users will increase exponentially. Companies will derive value by devoting resources to hook into external networks, understand the broader changes among constituent communities, and respond appropriately. Citizens will derive value in being part of communities with shared interests and goals, gaining through new perspectives, unified articulation of issues, lower purchase costs, job referrals and so on. Countries will derive value by sharing information infrastructures and harmonising trading within trading blocks. A networked world will substantially improve the efficiency and output of productive enterprises and social entities. India has a unique opportunity to jump ahead in a networked world. Fortunately, India is not weighed down by a legacy of narrow band access systems. We have already created an ubiquitous, high capacity, low cost, information and communication infrastructure and there are plans to provide an overarching broadband access to every home and every office across India. This will enable a paradigm shift in communicating, teaching, learning, treating, governing, working and shopping. India has the opportunity to leapfrog decades of economic lag and social deprivation. A network revolution can copiously enhance productivity and open new avenues for social and economic growth. It is a vital force in shaping the future of Indian homes, offices, governance and public services. It can powerfully propel India to global leadership in today’s world of information and knowledge.