Bal Harbour

Fall 2016

Issue link: http://www.balharbourdigital.com/i/726108

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68 BAL HARBOUR I ndia—a country of 1.3 billion people—has staggering problems on a matching scale. But it also has Nita Ambani, India's richest woman, who has dedicated her life to chipping away at those struggles as chairwoman and founder of the Reliance Foundation. Focusing on health, education and disaster relief, the foundation gets involved in almost anything Ambani and her husband, Mukesh, deem necessary. This includes huge land-reclamation projects (converting 2,500 acres of desert into fertile ground) and creating Asia's largest mango plantation. "We have transformed the lives of six million Indians," says Ambani. The Mumbai-based Ambani, 52, is a stylish sort who can converse on any topic—from her taste in fashion (favoring Oscar de la Renta) to her unlikely passion for cricket (owning the Mumbai Indians). But seated in a private space at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she's a major patron, it's clear that her purpose for waking every morning is to be a global philanthropist. Children will always be a focus for Ambani. "I was a teacher myself," she says. "Every child should be able to read and write and have health as a priority. Every family should feel secure on both these grounds. These are the bedrocks of any society." Those beliefs have led her to create her own educational system of sorts: a network of 14 institutions that includes India's top international school. And she's very hands-on. "It's not just about writing checks. It's about getting involved in the cause and creating STAR OF INDIA PHILANTHROPY The chair of the Reliance Foundation, Nita Ambani, is using her fortune for good all over her home country. She's also bringing Indian art to the rest of the world. BY TED LOOS Ambani sponsored the Nasreen Mohamedi show at the Met Breuer. PHOTOS COURTESY RELIANCE FOUNDATION

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