Nita Ambani is an Indian philanthropist. She serves as the chairperson and founder of ‘Reliance Foundation.’ Wife of business tycoon Mukesh Ambani, she is the wealthiest woman in India. Nita Ambani has come a long way since her middle-class household days! Born into a middle-class family, it was a dance performance at a cultural event that changed the fate of this classically trained Bharatnatyam dancer. The-then business tycoon and ‘Reliance’ chairman Dhirubhai Ambani and his wife Kokilaben were so impressed with Nita that they immediately sought her as their daughter-in-law. After marrying Mukesh Ambani, she witnessed the magnanimous growth of ‘Reliance Industries.’ An educationist and teacher by heart and profession, she has set up many schools to educate the poor and underprivileged children. She also initiated ‘Reliance Foundation,’ an affiliation of 'Reliance Industries Limited,' which has become the largest private foundation of the country. In 2014, she was elected to the board of ‘Reliance Industries’ as a non-executive director. She also serves as the founder and chairperson of ‘Dhirubhai Ambani International School,’ a premier school aimed at providing quality education in Mumbai. She is also the first Indian woman to become a member of the ‘International Olympic Committee’ (IOC).
Childhood & Early Life
Nita Ambani was born Nita Dalal on November 1, 1963, in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, to Ravindrabhai Dalal and Purnima Dalal. She has a sister named Mamta Dalal.
After completing her school education, she enrolled at ‘Narsee Monjee College of Commerce and Economics’ for a degree in Commerce.
Since an early age, Nita was fond of dancing. She felt that dance helped her connect to God. It was her way of meditating and connecting to her spiritual self. Nita took up Bharatnatyam from an early age. She then went on to become a professional Bharatnatyam dancer.
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Before Nita started her career, she got married to the illustrious Indian business magnate Mukesh Ambani, son of the head of the ‘Reliance’ conglomerate Dhirubhai Ambani. At that time, Nita was barely 22 years old.
During the early years of her marriage, Mukesh was setting up a plant in Patalganga. It was there that Nita decided to start her career as an educationist. Along with her husband, she set up a small school, teaching children from the rural areas. It was while serving as a teacher that Nita realized her passion for teaching. She then decided to spend the rest of her life teaching children.
After teaching at the Patalganga school, she helped set up a school in Jamnagar. In 1997, she headed the ‘Jamnagar Township Project’; the motive of which was to build a company township for the employees of Reliance’s mega-refinery at Jamnagar. The project included setting up a well-planned, environment friendly colony to house 17000 residents. Today, ‘Jamnagar Complex’ is amongst the best complexes in the country.
In 2010, Nita Ambani founded the ‘Reliance Foundation.’ A philanthropic initiative from the ‘Reliance Group,’ ‘Reliance Foundation’ soon became one of the largest private foundations in the country. It has helped improve various areas, including education, sports, healthcare, rural transformation, urban renewal, women's empowerment, art promotion, and preservation of India's rich cultural heritage.
Under Nita’s guidance, ‘Reliance Foundation’ extended to disaster management as well. It has conducted various relief & rescue operations and rehabilitation efforts during natural calamities in various parts of India, including Gujarat, Chennai, and Kashmir. It played a major part in the relief & rescue operations during the Kedarnath tragedy, Marathwada drought, etc.
When ‘Indian Premier League’ (IPL) started, Nita Ambani became the co-owner of the ‘Mumbai Indians’ team. Though she was initially apprehensive of the new role, she soon adjusted and got involved in the game of cricket. She learned about its technicalities to be in a better position to motivate her team. Her team won the ‘Indian Premier League’ in 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2019. It is one of the most successful teams in IPL history.
Along with her IPL team, she started the ‘Education and sports for All’ (ESA) initiative. Under the initiative, she aims at providing education to underprivileged children. ESA has also helped create awareness about education using various media and digital platforms. The number of underprivileged children benefiting from the initiative has risen to 100,000.
Nita Ambani’s passion for teaching and her vision to provide quality education in the country led to the foundation of ‘Dhirubhai Ambani International School’ (DAIS) in Mumbai. DAIS aims at empowering both teachers and students by helping them build a foundation for a glorious academic future. She serves as its founding member and chairperson.
DAIS is ranked as one of the best schools in the country. It has received the top school award in Mumbai on several occasions. It was also ranked India's top international school for four consecutive years by ‘Education World.’
In June 2016, Nita Ambani was among eight candidates nominated by the Swiss-based panel for membership in the ‘International Olympic Committee’ (IOC). With this, she became the first Indian woman to become part of the prestigious global sports event. At the 2016 ‘Rio Olympics,’ she presented medals to the winners of Women’s 400 m Freestyle Competition. She shall continue to be an individual member till the age of 70.
Nita Ambani’s most prominent work is the founding of ‘Reliance Foundation.’ Formerly known as ‘Dhirubahi Ambani Foundation,’ it aims at promoting sustainable growth in the country through five spheres: rural transformation, health, education, urban renewal, and art and cultural growth. Over the years, the foundation has collaborated with various NGOs and philanthropic institutes. It has also extended to disaster management, supporting and aiding victims of natural calamities.
Awards & Achievements
In 2016, Nita Ambani was listed among the most influential women business leaders in Asia by ‘Forbes’ magazine.
‘India Today’ named her amongst the ‘50 High and Mighty Indians.’
She was honored by the ‘Metropolitan Museum’ in New York for her work in philanthropy, education, and promoting of arts.
Personal Life & Legacy
Nita and Mukesh Ambani tied the nuptial knot in 1985. They have three children, twins Isha and Akash, and Anant.
Akash Ambani is an economics graduate from ‘Brown University.’ Currently, he is serving as the chief of strategy at ‘Reliance Jio Infocomm.’ Isha is a graduate in psychology from ‘Yale University.’ She is the director of ‘Reliance Jio Infocomm’ and ‘Reliance Retail.’