Bharti Enterprises chief Sunil Bharti Mittal knighted by King Charles III


PTI, Feb 28, 2024, 5:29 PM IST

Sunil Bharti Mittal (Credit: Prime Minister's Office (GODL-India), GODL-India via Wikimedia Commons)

Bharti Enterprises Founder and Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal on Wednesday became the first Indian citizen to be conferred an honorary Knighthood by Britain’s King Charles III “for services to UK and India business relations”.

In a list of honorary British awards unveiled by the UK Cabinet Office, Mittal receives a KBE under the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire – one of the highest honours conferred by a British monarch.

The 66-year-old entrepreneur said in a statement that he was “deeply humbled” by the gracious recognition from King Charles.

“The UK and India have historical relations, which are now entering a new era of increased cooperation and collaboration. I remain committed to working towards strengthening the economic and bilateral trade relationships between our two great nations,” Mittal said. “I am thankful to the government of the UK, whose support and keen attention to the needs of business has been critical in making the country an attractive investment destination,” he said.

The KBE, conferred for a pre-eminent contribution in any field of activity, is awarded in an honorary capacity to foreign nationals. While the Knighthood conferred on UK nationals gives them the title of Sir or Dame, non-UK nationals awarded the honour add KBE (or DBE for women) after their name.

Previous Indian recipients of the Honorary KBE include Ratan Tata (2009), Ravi Shankar (2001) and Jamshed Irani (1997), conferred by the late Queen Elizabeth II. The investiture ceremony will be conducted by the British High Commissioner to India at a later date, when he will formally hand over the royal insignia to Mittal.

The honour recognises Bharti Enterprises’ work within the India-UK space, including with the UK government in the field of satellites. Sunil Bharti Mittal led the revival of OneWeb (now Eutelsat), leading a consortium with the UK government and other strategic investors to offer satellite broadband services globally, a company statement notes.

Mittal has a strong connection with the UK, as a member of the India-UK CEO Forum and has previously been awarded the Honorary Doctor of Civil Law from Newcastle University and an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Leeds. He is also a member of the Vice Chancellor’s Circle of Advisors at the University of Cambridge.

Additionally, Sunil Bharti Mittal has served on the Governing Body of the London Business School (LBS) and as a Member of the India Advisory Group at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

In 2019, Bharti’s Airtel Africa was listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE100 Index.

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