Apple's, iPhone is not selling well in India. It currently sells via Airtel and Vodafone. It appears that the operators are not interested in selling the iPhone and are pushing through other channels.
One can buy an iPhone from a few other mobile phone retailers, though iPhone in India sells only via Airtel and Vodafone. The way it works is, you place an order with the mobile phone retailer, pay the full amount in advance and wait for a day or two to receive the handset.
One can only speculate that their may be an arrangement between the retailers and the operators. The retailers keep a dummy model as a display, the procure the handset from the operator when you pay them in advance and then you receive it in a day or two.
Not sure as to how it works, but then then got to know about the advance payment and delivery at a later date on inquiring about a discreet dummy iPhone display at a mobile phone retailer in India.