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Sunil Bharti Mittal

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Sunil Bharti Mittal, founder, Chairman and Managing Director of Bharti Group can be labelled as the most ambitious telecom entrepreneur in India. Sunil a former student of Harvard Business School graduated from Punjab University. The son of a parliamentarian, Sunil did not want to follow his father's footsteps. He had shown an interest in business even from his teenage days. So after graduation, Sunil got together with his friend and formed a small bicycle business with borrowed capital in the1970s. But by 1979, he realized that this business would remain small. So he moved out of Ludhiana, spent a few years in Mumbai and in 1981, was running an import and distribution operation out of New Delhi and Mumbai.

By 1982, Mittal had started a full-fledged business selling portable generators imported from Japan and that gave him the chance to involve himself in activities like marketing and advertising. Things went smoothly until the government banned the import of generators as two Indian companies were awarded licenses to manufacture generators locally.

Sunil Mittal got interested in push button phones while on a trip to Taiwan, and in 1982, introduced the phones to India, replacing the old fashioned, bulky rotary phones that were in use in the country then. Bharti Telecom Limited (BTL) was incorporated and entered into a technical tie up with Siemens AG of Germany for manufacture of electronic push button phones. By the early 1990s, Mittal was making fax machines, cordless phones and other telecom gear.


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The Indian government got the licenses for mobile phone services in the year 1992. This was the turning point in Mittal’s career. According to some condition of licensing, Mittal was able to get the license of making mobile phones in the country. After few years, Bharti Cellular Limited was formed and it offered mobile phone services under the brand name, Airtel. In a span of a few years, Bharti group became the largest mobile service provider of India. It is the Bharti group that brought down the high STD and ISD rates in the country. In 2001, the company entered into a joint venture with Singapore Telecom International for a $650-million ubmarine cable project, the countries first ever undersea cable link connecting Chennai in India and Singapore.

He was chosen as one of the top entrepreneurs in the world for the year 2000 and  amongst 'Stars Of Asia', by 'Business Week', he received IT Man of the Year Award 2002 from Dataquest and CEO Of the Year, 2002 Award (World HRD Congress). He is the member of National Council of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), Chairman, Indo-US Joint Business Council, Member, Advisory Committee constituted by Ministry of IT. Mittal has to his credit the breaking up of the 100 year old monopoly of state run companies to operate telecom services in India. Now he heads a successful empire focused on different areas of business through independent Joint Venture companies with a market capitalization of approximately $ 2 billion, employing over 5,000 people and still growing. Bharti Foundation has funded over 50 schools in Madhya Pradesh and also donated Rs 200 million to IIT Delhi for building a Bharti School of Technology and Management.

In spite of his deep involvement in work, Mittal the man is calm, seldom ruffled and very down to earth. He says he achieves a sense of detachment and peace with regular practice of yoga. He is thankful for a supportive family including a daughter and twin sons, with whom understandably he doesn't get much time to, spend. His brothers Rakesh and Rajan are with him in the business.


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