Book Review: POLYSTER PRICE;The Rise of Dhirubhai Ambani

September 08, 2020

 Polyester Prince is banned in India



Genre: Non-Fiction, Biography

Author: Hamish MacDonald


Pages: 322


Year of Publish: 1998


Other Books from Author: Ambani and Sons, A War of words, Mahabharat in polyester

Related books: The Z factor, The making of HERO

Recently, Reliance Industries was included in the top 48 global companies. Reliance Oil market capitalization crossed Exxon Mobile. Mukesh Ambani, for the first time, came in the list of top five wealthiest men on earth. If you are Indian, Reliance and Ambanis do not need an introduction.
The above incidents made me curious to know about the beginning of the business giant. Its founder, Mr. Dhirajlal Hirachand Ambani, a flamboyant Gujrati entrepreneur, sailed the fortune of the company in the era of a closed economy. He was playing shoulder to shoulder with industrial juggernauts like Tatas, Birlas, Godrej, Wadis, Kothari, L&T.

Quick facts about The Polyester Prince

  • It is banned in India.
  • Ambani's filed defamation case against Hamish MacDonald. 
  • Till today, Polyester Price remains unofficial biography of Dhirubhai Ambani.

The Author, Hamish MacDonald, is an Australian journalist. He has worked as a journalist in most Asian countries like India, Japan, Indonesia, Hong Kong, and China. He was in India between 1990 and 1997, covering the time immediately after the economic reforms. The book starts with describing the lavish hospitality he received from Dhirubhai in the wedding ceremony of his elder son, Mukesh.

The initial phase of the book is to familiarize readers with the great trading background of Ambani. The culture which shaped them and the childhood days of Dhirubhai.

Reliance's story starts with textiles production. Polyester was gaining acceptance for its luster and durability. Readers will find extensive content on textile manufacturing, the supply of yarns, quality checks, and distribution.

The X-factor of Dhirubhai was having friends in the right places, a master of the equity cult, and ruthlessness towards competitors. Reliance production was more than the total textile production of the country during the great polyester war.

I particularly enjoyed the part where Dhirubhai was liaisoning inside the governance. As I said, he had friends in the right places. You will discover big political and bureaucrats names playing an active part in Reliance favor. Book beautifully covers the biggest asset of Dhirubhai, "the investors". I am not talking about stock market players, but the common masses. Earlier the notion was - “Stock market is a gamble and one or the other day you will lose money.” There been instances where pamphlets were showered from the helicopter inviting them for counseling and investing.

The author also talks about a Tamilian journalist, Gurumurthy, who was investigating Reliance. He disclosed many backdoor connections supporting the company exponential growth. Be it prior information of the budget or tender allocations, Reliance was ahead in its game. Shit! Did I say too much?.

I liked a statement: 

"If the main rule prohibits something, get a sub-rule added which permits it. The business thrives on such rules. Touts make fortunes, politicians enhance their powers, and bureaucrats their importance. Rule of law becomes sub-rule of law and subrule becomes the subversive rule.”

The equity hallmark of Dhirubhai was raising debt by offering attractive interest rates and converting it into cheap equity, by innovating the path of converting supposedly non-convertible debentures into shares. Leaving politicians and bureaucrats there is quite a story from the Bollywood industry.



The Polyester Prince will give readers an insight on Reliance’s initial days, its challenges, how it sailed through the governmental constraints, how it dealt with its established competitors. Parallelly, you will be notified about the political fluctuations in the country. This is a good blend of business and politics study.

But in every line, you will feel the charismatic presence of Dhirubhai Ambani. He was just like an average Indian, wearing a safari suit, HMT watch, doing salam (salute) to everyone, and carrying an infinite smile.




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