Mumbai belongs to all of India: Mukesh Ambani

Mukesh Ambani said the controversy over making Marathi mandatory for taxi drivers was unfortunate.

Updated: Jan 27, 2010, 13:20 PM IST

London: Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh
Ambani has said the recent controversy over making knowledge
of Marathi mandatory for issuing taxi permits in Mumbai was
unfortunate and said the metropolis belongs to all of India.

"We are all Indians first. Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi
belong to all Indians. That is the reality," he said Tuesday during a panel discussion at the London School of Economics
organised to release Rajya Sabha MP N K Singh`s book, `Not by
Reason Alone: The Politics of Change`.

Ambani`s remark that while India`s corporate world had
moved away from `licence raj` after economic liberalisation,
Mumbai`s "poor taxi-walla is still dealing with licence raj"
was received with applause from the gathering.

Responding to a question on the taxi drivers controversy,
Ambani said the real challenge and opportunity was whether
India was able to create 15 to 20 million new jobs every year.

The Maharashtra government has, however, rescinded its
order on making knowledge of Marathi a pre-condition to
awarding taxi permits a day after proposing it.

"Employment is the biggest challenge in the coming years.
We are not moving fast enough," Ambani said.

Rajya Sabha MP NK Singh termed the controversy over
renewing taxi licences in Mumbai as "misplaced populism".

Ambani noted that many Indian professionals abroad were
returning because of the many opportunities for self-
fulfillment in India.

He said the next 20 years would be full of opportunities
for the returning Indian professionals that will have an
impact on millions of people back home.

"India is blessed with connections in Europe and in the
US that raise our status as a country. The achievements of
our diaspora help India, but whatever had to be done in the
West, has been done. Now is the time to come back; there are
more opportunities in India," he said.

After the event, Ambani was mobbed by eager students,
most of them Indians, as they vied to speak to him and take
photographs with him. He cheerfully interacted with them and
invited them to Mumbai.

Security personnel had to intervene to escort Ambani to
his car.