Sucheta Dalal :Nita Ambani may head RIL's world-class university
Sucheta Dalal

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Nita Ambani may head RIL's world-class university  

January 9, 2010

Refinery-to-retail giant Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) is planning to set up a world-class university in the country, marking its foray into the education sector. The university may be headed by Nita Ambani, wife of RIL chief Mukesh Ambani. Ms Ambani is president of Dhirubhai Ambani Foundation and also heads the Dhirubhai Ambani International School.


"Reliance Foundation, the new philanthropic initiative of the Reliance Group, has decided to set up a new age world-class university in India and it will promote education and research in all disciplines of knowledge," RIL chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani said.


He was speaking after receiving the first Dean's Medal by the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science.


The proposed university would be set up on the lines of great American universities like UPenn, Mr Ambani said, adding that it will also forge partnerships with reputed educational institutions around the world. "It will be international in scale and in best practises, but with an Indian soul," he said.


Noting that there was a need to bring about changes in the methodology of education, Mr Ambani said that education in India is also at the doorsteps of transformation.


"Access to world-class education is not only a necessity but a strong prerequisite to building a strong India. It is by far the strongest aspiration of young Indians," he said.


The RIL chairman said that in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, a new world is emerging, which is fundamentally different from the old.


Noting that Asia is witnessing unprecedented prosperity, Mr Ambani said that the centre of economic activity was shifting from the West to the East.


However, many parts of Asia also present a picture of deprivation and under-development and employment creation remains a challenge for all countries.


"Countries left behind in the race for development are fast catching up. Asia is witnessing unprecedented prosperity. Yet, many parts of Asia also present a picture of deprivation and under-development," he said.


Calling for equitable development, he said that the deprived are demanding their due share.

"The poor are still denied access to food, water, housing, electricity and transport... the basic necessities of life. Therefore, the challenge of equitable development has become most urgent. So has the imperative of sustainable development," Mr Ambani said.


Urging to devise new developmental models that provide growth with sustainability, and development with equity, he said that sustainable development demands more out of less from finite resources.


The new developmental models will require partnerships and newer ways of solving problems and problems cannot be segregated into separate silos, Mr Ambani said.

"In this new and interdependent world, we have to become silo-breakers in our thinking, policies and strategies of development. Every single challenge that the world is facing demands a creative response from scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and policy-makers," he said.


Science, technology and engineering have an epoch-making opportunity to evolve to the next level, by making common cause with social sciences, responsible entrepreneurship and good governance, he said.


"I believe that technology, wedded to the Gandhian vision, can create a better future for our children in all parts of the world," the RIL chief said.


He observed that the world was facing crises on several fronts including financial, energy, food, water, environmental and international terrorism. "The decade gone by taught many important lessons to the world. 9/11 at the beginning of the last decade reminded the world about the barbarity of terrorism. 26/11 towards the end of the last decade was yet another reminder," Mr Ambani said.


The financial crisis highlighted the inter-connectedness of the world, he said, adding that the crisis taught the world that money cannot produce money.


Mr Ambani expressed his deep appreciation for all staff of the Oberoi, hit by the deadly terrorist strike in November 2008, for facing and overcoming terror with courage, reports PTI.


Earlier in November, Mr Ambani had said that RIL was planning to invest Rs500 crore to set up a philanthropic entity called Reliance Foundation with plans to scale up its contribution to Rs1,000 crore.


Yogesh Sapkale

-- Sucheta Dalal