Bharti Airtel, a telecom giant, has been called a "national asset that needs to be nurtured" by its founder-chairman, Sunil Mittal, during his acceptance speech for the ET Business Leader of the Year award. As per a TNN report, speaking in the presence of Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Mittal passionately defended the company against the backdrop of consolidation in the telecom industry, which saw the number of players shrink from 13 to 3. Mittal said, "In our case, there was no consolidation. There was only annihilation, company after company disappeared."
He then went on to question who the company belonged to, saying, "Its customers, its employees, its investors, or the government? My simple answer is: This is a national asset." Mittal further emphasised that Airtel is not his company, but rather a story that should inspire thousands of more entrepreneurs in the country to create similar magic.
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Mittal's comments underscored the importance of Airtel to the Indian economy and society. The telecom giant is a major player in the industry, with a customer base of over 300 million subscribers. Airtel has also been at the forefront of innovation, launching services such as Airtel Payments Bank and Airtel Xstream.
The telecom industry has been facing challenges in recent years, with intense competition, regulatory issues, and mounting debt. However, Airtel has managed to weather the storm and emerge as a strong player in the market. Mittal's remarks highlight the need to recognise and support such companies as national assets.
The speech was delivered during the ET Awards for Corporate Excellence ceremony, which recognises outstanding corporate leaders and organisations in India. Sitharaman was also present at the event and congratulated Mittal on his award. The event was attended by top business leaders, policymakers, and journalists.