In an interview for the BBC's Who Runs Your World? season, the businessman Vijay Mallya, one of the most
influential men in India, says he does not believe
India's millions of poor resent the wealth of rich people like himself.
Mr Mallya, the flamboyant chairman of India's biggest liquor business, United Breweries, was
wearing his trademark diamond ear studs when he spoke to the BBC during a
break from important negotiations in the business capital, Mumbai (Bombay).
The producer of Kingfisher beers and a host of other brands was finalising
the structure of his recently expanded brewery and spirits empire, now the
third largest such company by volume in the world.
"I think that the poorest of the poor... look up to wealthy and successful
Indians with some degree of respect and pride," Mr Mallya said.
"They take pride in the success of fellow Indians as well."
Many young Indians see Vijay Mallya as a role model.
His other major venture, a budget airline, has seen him compared to Sir
Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines.
But he is not just a businessman. Mr Mallya is also a member of the upper
house of the Indian federal parliament.
'My company contributes'
As a politician and a businessman, does he think enough is being done to
help those who have not benefited from the fast-growing economy?
"The amount of revenue our company contributes to the state is enormous and
could be extremely profitably and effectively used for the benefit of the
poor," he said.
"There is a huge amount of resource allocation to farmers and where farmers
are unable to pay their debts, their loans and the interest on those loans
are actually forgiven.
"Some taxpayers complain about it. But nevertheless the focus is on
improving the quality of life for the poorest of the poor."
Mallya is behind Kingfisher beers and a budget airline
Vijay Mallya inherited his father's business when he was 28 and has spent
more than two decades building it into the multi-billion-dollar enterprise it is today.
Two-thirds of India's 1.2 billion people live in poverty. Caste distinctions
and lack of opportunity condemn many to stay poor throughout their lives.
So doesn't his charismatic lifestyle - which includes a personal Boeing jet - grate on those who have not
benefited from India's corporate-driven boom?
"Our culture in India is not a culture where we grudge each other," he says.
"It's not a culture where we are jealous of each other.
"I think we are a very respectful race, we tend to be somewhat subservient
at times, but that is the beauty of India."
'Future in my hands'
Subservience is not a word associated with India's high-flying liquor king.
Asked who runs his world, he said:
"I run my own world, because I very firmly believe that my destiny, my
future is in my hands and I don't want to blame anybody else for the path
that I take.
"And obviously I hope that everybody runs their own world, otherwise God