QUEPEM: Industrialist Anil Ambani, a new entrant in the defence sector, today said an attempt is being made to deny opportunity to new players on grounds of lack of experience, which he described as a “booby-trap” laid by vested interest to kill competition.
Ambani, who heads the Reliance Group, also sought more clarity in the government’s plan to enter into strategic partnership saying policies have to be in line with global best practices. He emphasised that an open and calibrated policy will shake the status quo, end the monopoly of existing players, and benefit the nation by encouraging the entry of new players and increased competition.
His remarks on lack of experience found resonance with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar who said that as a young politician he also faced the same problem but he was able to overcome it.
At a Defexpo seminar here, Ambani said: “Despite a committed reformist mindset at the top, we are still seeing opportunities being denied to new players on grounds of lack of experience. This is the classic chicken-and-egg situation, where nobody wins.
“In the vocabulary of combat, sir, it is a landmine or booby-trap laid by vested interests to kill competition.” Ambani, who has announced a slew of tie-ups with foreign players but is yet to get a contract, said sectors like automobiles to telecom and IT would not be the same as today if people had insisted on experience before letting them do business.
“Existing mindset in the defence sector which holds past experience as the most important criterion for awarding work, needs to change to allow the private sector to take up its rightful role in enhancing national security,” he said.
He added that no one will deny the importance of experience, but successful enterprise is built on a number of other variables which are even more critical: capability, competence, commitment, vision and risk-taking, among others.
Citing the example of his father Dhirubhai Ambani, he said he was neither a chemical engineer nor a technologist nor did he have any prior experience in the oil and gas sector. “Yet sir, he created the world’s largest oil and gas business, the largest refinery, and the largest petro-chemical company in the world. Clearly, there would have been no Reliance in existence today if experience was the sole defining yardstick of entrepreneurial success,” he said.