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The Silicon Review Asia

Sunil Mittal: Transforming India’s Telecommunications Landscape

Sunil Mittal: Transforming India’s Telecommunications Landscape

Sunil Bharti Mittal is an Indian business tycoon, philanthropist and the founder and chairman of Bharti Enterprises, a conglomerate that has interests in telecommunication, insurance, real estate, and hospitality. Born to a politician in Punjab, Sunil always yearned to own a business. As early as the age of 19, he began importing scrap metal and went on to set up a manufacturing unit for bicycle parts. After graduating from the Punjab University, he began importing portable generators from Japan and selling them in India. This venture paid off and Sunil had his first taste of success. But it was not to last long.

The Indian government would later ban the importing of generators to promote local manufacturing. While on a trip to Taiwan, Sunil would come across push-button phones which would sow the seeds for a pioneering idea that would enable him to lay the foundations for the telecommunications industry in India.

The old-fashioned phones with a rotary dial were still dominant in India and Sunil knew that the phone he saw in Taiwan would certainly capture the popular Indian imagination. He returned to India and began making and selling similar phones in India with a strategic partnership with Siemens AG of Germany. A few years later he would branch out and begin building cordless phones and fax machines. He eventually bid for a mobile phone network license and with a tie-up with a French telecom group named Vivendi, incorporated the Bharti Telecom Limited. Subsequently, he offered telecom services under the brand Airtel. It would be the first company to attain 2 million subscribers. Mittal was instrumental in bringing down the rates of STD/ISD calls in India. As the years passed by, the number of subscribers grew, making Airtel a household name and Sunil Mittal a billionaire. He effectively kick-started the entire telecommunications industry in India, enabling hundreds of millions to enjoy affordable calling all over the country and abroad.

Mittal firmly believes in giving back to the community and so established the Bharti Foundation to support schools for the underprivileged. He can rightfully be credited with improving the lives of millions through his entrepreneurial spirit and philanthropy.     



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