Illustration by Valeria Petrone In 1974, at age 19, Anil Agarwal left his family home in Patna, a small city on the banks of the Ganges River, and traveled over a thousand miles west to Mumbai — then Bombay — carrying nothing but a tiffin box and some bedding. Agarwal’s father ran a small aluminum firm, and Agarwal was beginning his own career in the metals trade, buying scrap metal from far and wide before trading it in India’s “Maximum City,” a metropolis of almost ten million people. But despite being home to more than 800 million people, India at that time ranked lower than the Netherlands in annual GDP, and Agarwal struggled to get nine different businesses off the ground. His tenth company, however, a copper cable firm named Sterlite Industries, caught a lucky break. The fall of the Soviet Union had pummeled the rupee, forcing New Delhi to open its economy to private capital, and Agarwal quickly gobbled up underperforming mineral works at home and abroad for bargain basement prices (sometimes Subscribe or login to read the rest. Subscribers get full access to: Exclusive longform investigative journalism, Q&As, news and analysis, and data on Chinese business elites and corporations. We publish China scoops you won't find anywhere else. A weekly curated reading list on China from David Barboza, Pulitzer Prize-winning former Shanghai correspondent for The New York Times. A daily roundup of China finance, business and economics headlines. We offer discounts for groups, institutions and students. Go to our Subscriptions page for details.