If Mukesh D. Ambani’s plans get fructified, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) will overtake the Tata group as India’s largest private employer in the next three years. The traditional industrial behemoth, now undergoing a transition to a services and IT-driven conglomerate, has proposed to increase its headcount by more than four times to 1.2 million people, by March 31, 2024.

According to its annual report for FY21, RIL created over 75,000 new jobs in the pandemic year, taking its total headcount to 236,334. It has already emerged as the fifth Indian company to have a minimum headcount of 200,000 employees, the others being Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Infosys, State Bank of India (SBI), and Coal India.

Most of its new employment came in the retail arm. With over 200,000 people on board, Reliance Retail is already one of the largest private sector employers in the country.

In the next three years, RIL as a group will become India’s largest private employer, surpassing the Tata group. The Tata group has a headcount of 800,000 employees though the final figure is yet to be tallied and announced by the group.

“Reliance is probably the only large company in the world that has successfully transformed itself from being a traditional industrial business into an enterprise that now includes two mega-scale consumer and technology businesses,” said the chairman and MD of RIL, at the annual general meeting (AGM) held on June 24.

“Even in these challenging times, I am personally proud to report to you that Reliance Retail has not only protected jobs, but also created over 65,000 new jobs. Reliance Retail currently employs over 2 lakh people making us one of the largest employers in the country. Over the next three years, we shall further create employment for over 10 lakh people and enable the livelihoods for many more,” he said, referring to potential employment opportunities that the retail arm alone will create in the next three years.

On a consolidated basis, RIL had a headcount of 195,618 in FY20 and 194,056 in FY19.

At the end of 2019-20, the Tata group collectively employed over 750,000 people. TCS—the multinational IT services company which is the largest employer within the group—has added around 40,000 employees in FY21. As on March 31, 2021, TCS had over 488,649 employees worldwide, up from 448,464 as of March 31, 2020. In the next three years, TCS and other Tata group companies will surely add more employees, but the total headcount is unlikely to go past 1.2 million.

According to Ambani, Reliance Retail added 1,500 new retail stores, taking their store count to 12,711.

“Reliance Retail aggressively hired frontline employees. Of the total 65,000-plus new hires, 53,000-plus were freshers. Training interventions, induction and role-readiness programmes were deployed on a massive scale to make them job-ready in the shortest possible time. It also hired and trained 15,000 delivery partners,” said RIL’s annual report.

Ambani told the AGM that the growth in the retail sector would usher growth across the value chain—from raw material producers to large and small manufacturers, from logistics service providers to merchants, to consumers.

Green moves

RIL has, meanwhile, made a grand entry into the green energy space, with an overall investment of ₹75,000 crore (over $10 billion) over three years.

The biggest initiative close to his heart is the development of the ‘Dhirubhai Ambani Green Energy Giga Complex’, which is currently underway on a 5,000-acre campus in Jamnagar. The city in western Gujarat, once a cradle of RIL’s old energy business, will become one of the largest integrated renewable energy manufacturing facilities in the world.

“Over the next three years, we will invest over ₹60,000 crore. Reliance will thus create and offer a fully integrated, end-to-end renewables energy ecosystem. First part of our plan is to build four giga factories,” said Ambani.

Another ₹15,000 crore will be invested in value chains, partnerships, and future technologies, including upstream and downstream industries.

The giga factories will manufacture and fully integrate all the critical components of the new energy ecosystem. These include an integrated solar photovoltaic module factory (for the production of solar energy), an advanced energy storage battery factory (for storage of intermittent energy), an electrolyser factory (for the production of green hydrogen) and a fuel cell factory (for converting hydrogen into motive and stationary power).

“Reliance will establish and enable at least 100GW of solar energy by 2030. A significant part of this will come from rooftop solar and decentralised solar installations in villages. These will bring enormous benefits and prosperity to rural India,” said Ambani.

Jio-Google play in smartphone market

Jio and Google have joined hands to roll out one of the most affordable 4G smartphones on September 10.

Called JioPhone Next, it is a fully featured smartphone, supporting the entire suite of applications from both Google and Jio, as well as the Google Play Store on Android, through which users will have access to the entire universe of Android apps.

Ambani said the smartphone is powered by an extremely optimised version of the Android operating system, that has been jointly developed by Jio and Google, especially for the Indian market.

“While being ultra-affordable, JioPhone Next is packed with cutting-edge features like the voice assistant, automatic read-aloud of screen text, language translation, smart camera with augmented reality filters and much more,” he said.

The company which once disrupted the telecom market with its incredibly low-priced products and broadband services is now looking to repeat the feat in other sectors such as organised retail, green energy, and mobile phone markets.

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