Ambani bahus spread light - Brothers battle while wives make themselves socially useful

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By SATISH JOHN in Mumbai
  • Published 10.03.05

Mumbai, March 10: The brothers may be searching for light in the tunnel of bitterness they have dug for themselves, but the bahus have found theirs, in separate ways that are strikingly similar.

Tina, the wife of Anil Ambani, today released an electricity bill in Braille for the visually impaired in the presence of Amitabh Bachchan, who starred in Black, the critically acclaimed film in which Rani Mukherjee played the role of a blind girl.

Two days ago, on Women?s Day, Nita, the wife of elder brother Mukesh, received an award for social service.

At Anil-run Reliance Energy?s launch of the electricity bill for the visually impaired, Tina ? once a part of show business ? chose to sit in the anonymity of the audience, letting Bachchan, the chief guest, take centre stage.

?I am a member of the Ambani family and therefore a family member of Reliance Energy? I involve myself in family matters and that?s why I am here,? he said.

Anil, the head of the Reliance Energy family, could not attend as he was otherwise busy. Just as well since praise in absentia may be more easily digestible.

Rajendra Vyas, the honorary secretary-general of the National Association for the Blind that hosted the launch, recalled how on his request many years ago the late Dhirubhai Ambani immediately organised Braille slates for visually impaired children of Mogra village in Gujarat, the Ambanis? home state.

Anil, Vyas added, was following in his father?s footsteps. Throughout the very public spat with his elder brother, Anil has referred frequently to Dhirubhai?s vision that, among other things, also pictured a structure of the Reliance empire of brotherly equality.

Mukesh, allegedly, does not share in this vision of the empire, which is why all the trouble between the brothers. Anil fears he is being done out of his due.

Over the past couple of days, however, there is talk of a way being worked out of the dead-end the brothers had reached.

At the headquarters of the National Association for the Blind, a pitch-dark tunnel was created at the entrance for people to experience what it is to be sightless.

Far-reaching vision ? other than dynamic leadership qualities and selfless service ? was very much the favoured word when on Tuesday Nita Ambani was awarded the Samaj Seva Vishwa Vibhushan by S.M. Krishna, the governor of Maharashtra. The award was instituted by the Wisitex Foundation.

Nita, the president of the Dhirubhai Ambani Foundation, said in her acceptance speech, referring to a Sanskrit saying, God resides where women are worshipped. ?Sometimes our society ignores this high ideal. Today?s celebration reminds us of those values.?

The elder bahu, who also heads the Dhirubhai Ambani International School, supervised the development of villages around all Reliance Industries projects.

Tina has been involved in work for senior citizens and publishes a magazine for them. Her presence at the launch of the Braille bill, claimed to be the first by a power company, and the manner in which she went about checking whether everything was in order suggested a blossoming of Tina the social citizen.

Amitabh was asked to relate his recent hit movie to the occasion. ?Black is far from black. It is colourful, it is uplifting and shows a strength of character and determination. And this does not limit itself to anyone in life to reach a pinnacle or goal and keep the effort going.?

Ravindra Jain, the blind composer, sang, hoping that the blind would see light with the Braille bill and that phone companies would follow suit.

Maybe Nita should prod hubby Mukesh to prod his telecom company Reliance Infocomm.

If brothers think alike, anything ? even enlightenment ? is possible.