Has the recent economic revolution helped only a handful of clever, lucky business people?

‘Well,’ said Sunil Mittal, ‘each year 20 million more people are having a second meal every day. I don’t like the vulgar display of wealth. I think the government should run social programmes and we should pay our taxes and not resent it. The fuel for change comes from the development of the economy. Bharti Airtel employs around 50,000 people today, but we provide indirect employment to around 1.5 million. The Bharti Foundation will soon be sending 100,000 children to school, and the schools we have set up are in very poor catchment areas.’

It was, in effect, an affirmative action programme. ‘Most of our children and most of the teachers come from Scheduled Castes or Tribes or from the OBC category. We provide the children with a uniform, one meal a day and free books, and we take care of the fees.’ Was this a way of promoting his brand? ‘No. It’s a way to unlock India’s potential. A lot of these families wouldn’t know about our business. You can change a whole family if the children get educated…’

READ MORE in India: A Portrait by Patrick French

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