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His corporate office in Delhi is right in the shadow of the Qutub Minar.

And on the door of his conference room are inscribed the words: SULTANATE I. Even before meeting the man, I know why he's made it big, the biggest name in Indian telecom after the government. Sunil Bharti Mittal thinks BIG. There's a story behind his middle name. His parents (father, a bania, and mother, a khatri Hindu castes) had an intercaste marriage, which created a brouhaha at that time, forcing them to adopt the surname Bharti. Sunil Bharti reclaimed the surname Mittal much later in life. Sunil's father, Sat Paul Mittal, an MP, was always in public life. It was Sunil who started in business (making cycle parts in Ludhiana, India) in 1976 at the age of 18 with borrowed capital of Rs 20,000. Later he started operating from Delhi and Mumbai, india, mainly importing and distributing products. In '8384 was set up the first company, Bharti Healthcare, making capsules. The big break into the telecom sector happened by accident. In Mittal's words: "In '83 many imports were banned, including portable generators which we were importing. So we tied up for the manufacture of push-button telephones. Our telecom business is worth Rs 1,2000 million today." With the introduction of Airtel mobile phones in Delhi, India in 1995, they really hit the spotlight. Mittal prides himself on a string of firsts: "the first push-button, the first cordless, the first answering machines, the first fax machines". What would he attribute his success to? "Right from the beginning ours was never a trading or moneymaking mentality, but of wanting to be recognized in our field and to establish a corporation. We did things never tried before in India. We are very fair to the people we work with (suppliers, buyers, staff). We wanted to prove that even with meager capital we could do bigger things. Now a corporation, we are working to make it an institution. "While the public mostly knows about us three brothers behind Bharti, there is no employee-owner situation here. Everybody is a co-owner and now owns stock. It's a very enabling environment. There's no hire-and-fire here. Sometimes we are even accused of being too soft! You know the Monday morning syndrome people not wanting to get behind their desks. Here on Monday morning people are charged up to get back to work!" Any spiritual connection? "I do some meditation and chanting of mantras, a little bit of yoga. I exercise in the mornings. For me spirituality is being good to people. Having a positive frame of mind we've made a virtue of extremely bad situations." How does he relax? "I used to play golf before, now sometimes I play tennis. But I thrive on my work. For me, work is love, not stress. But I won't say there's no stress. As you come to the top of the pyramid, the intensity of competition, of jealousy, is high." What about his family? "I have a daughter who's 17 and twin sons who are 13. I don't get to spend much

we'd be happy. In Madhya Pradesh. Tatas are very slow in responding to market needs." Any management model he emulates? "Tatas are one organization we really admire. Our entire standing has been. That's a big kick. I've had some desires but no time. a contribution from society. If we can have that image. it's vision that makes success. They never compromise. But once change starts from the top there is some impact downwards.. in a sense. However. I'd like to play a larger role in society." India. say. That's the kind of blend we're trying to give our operations." What's his long-term vision? "In five years Bharti should be a very large corporation. I used to fly planes. in another seven years. At the lower levels. Entrepreneurial. But you pick up the good points. which is very palpable at the higher level. The government is fully committed to the IT-telecom revolution. And we are contributing to this infrastructure and nation building. Everybody has a job to do and I think I was ordained to do what I'm doing.. not politics If I can be of any use to the government then. By then the company should run on its own steam. since licensing has mostly been dismantled. like the Ambanis. value for money. While there's no substitute for hard work." . We've also given Rs 200 million to IIT Delhi for building a Bharti School of Technology and Management. I'll be available. things are quite the same. "We are clearly at the crossroads. My family is supportive. put a very entrepreneurial soul into it and institutionalize.. A billion-dollar one! Personally. Empowering people is important. Whenever I'm with them I try to spend some quality time. is passing through a very exciting period. No. Mittal points out. Industry too is committed. High quality. I'd like to do something for my intellectual enrichment.." Is the business environment in India changing to enable operations with integrity? Replies Mittal: "I've walked the corridors of power and there's a big positive change. In the next 15 years India should see hectic activity in several areas and economic strength will come during this period. however. India.time with the family. we have funded 50-odd schools. You must give back what you take. however. We have an occasional holiday. First generation entrepreneurs always have this problem. a sustained relationship with customers " Has there been any charitable or philanthropic activity? "We are very conscious about our social obligations and have set up the Bharti Foundation. We'd like to be the preferred choice of customers in whatever we do.