I couldn’t be more proud seeing more Indians in this list. Bear with me with my excitement as I present them to you. It’s just so amazing to showcase the promising talents of my co-countrymen despite being one of the third-world countries in the world. And it was not just some local or regional achievement, we talk about the world, the Information Technology.
Information Technology or IT covers pretty much all of the products or services related to computers and computer networks. From smaller chips, graphics cards, motherboard, USB, cables, gaming software, mobile apps, IT consultancy, google algorithms, name it, Indians took an important part in developing all of these things. Some have really made big names in the IT industry. Perhaps now I understand how the world sees us, how we are being called IT nerds, and how we have changed the world in some ways. Of course, the legacy continues, with more and more development in IT, not just by Indians but by all people in the world who aspire IT career paths.
I shall highlight 5 of the most famous Indians who contributed huge change in IT (in random order):
#1 Azim Premji
D.O.B.: 24th July 1945
Education: Stanford University; St. Mary’s School (Mumbai)
Founded: Azim Premji Foundation; Mission 10X; Azim Premji University
Net Worth: $17.1 billion
Azim Hashim Premji is known as an Indian Business Tycoon who is also the Chairman of Wipro Limited – one of the largest IT companies in the world. Premji has managed to diversify a family business which started as a vegetable products and refined oil company and converted to a computer business in 1970. He saw more opportunities when IBM was expelled by the Indian government in 1979. Soon after Wipro has been known as a giant manufacturer of computer hardware which also entered the software market. The company has operated in 67 countries to date and has a market capitalization of $35 billion as of March last year. This has made Premji one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world. The Business Week hailed him as one, for making Wipro one of the fastest growing companies in the history.
#2 Kumar Mangalam Birla
D.O.B.: 14th June 1967
Education: London business School; University of Mumbai; HR College of Commerce and Economics
Founded: Aditya Birla Group, Chairman; Ultra Tech Cement
Kumar Birla is the Chairman of the multinational company Aditya Birla, which belongs to the third largest business houses in India. After he graduated and became a Chartered Accountant, he went to London to complete his post-graduation. When his father died, he was given the big responsibilities to continue what his father has started in the company which was already largely established in the business sector. Inexperienced and fresh from his studies abroad, he had managed to overcome the doubts among his peers and had proven that he could still do more to propagate the family business. He introduced new business policies and new ventures. He conquered also business sectors in software and BPO (Business Process Outsourcing). Among his business influences are serving as the Chairman of the Board and Trade by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Securities and Exchange Board of India, and a lot more. He is also a philanthropist who tried improving the quality of life of the weaker masses in numerous countries including India, Egypt and Thailand.
#3 N.R. Narayana Murthy
D.O.B.: 20th August 1946
Education: University of Mysore; Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur; National Institute of Engineering
Net Worth: $1.8 billion
Considered as one of the brilliant minds and described by Time’s magazine as the “Father of Indian IT Sector”. Several awards were put upon his name for his remarkable contributions to India’s IT industry. With his intelligence, he nailed the entrance exam at IIT (India Institute of Technology) and had a scholarship which was later not enough to cover his school expenses and his father advised him to join a local engineering college instead. He graduated with Electrical Engineering degree in 1967 at National Institute of Engineering and obtained his master’s degree at IIT in 1969. After pursuing a Computer Science course as he was impressed and influenced by US computer scientists he met at IIT, he took a job as chief systems programmer at IIM (India Institute of Management) and worked on a time sharing computer system which made it as first in India and the third in the world after Harvard and Stanford. He pursued a career in the West countries and established Softronics after coming back to India. There were ups and downs in the company but he had managed to withstand the obstacles when he founded another company named Infosys and made it as one of the largest IT companies across the globe.
#4 Nandan Nilekani
D.O.B.: 2nd June 1955
Education: Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay
Net Worth: $1.5 billion
Nandan Nilekani co-founded Infosys with Murthy and along with other software engineers. He became the CEO of the said company next to Murthy and served remarkably which contributed to the success of the company for decades. As a young man, he had planned of being an entrepreneur as he grew up, seeing his father’s re-assignment of jobs to different locations. He also joined politics after serving as chairman of UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India) wherein he contributed to providing unique identification numbers for all residents of India. Because of his dedication to serve his country, he was given high authority awards including the NDTV Indian of the Year’s Transformational Idea of the Year award in 2011, Padma Bhushan in 2006 which is considered the third highest civilian award in India, and was named by Forbes Asia as the Businessman of the Year in that same year and among others.
#5 Ratan Tata
D.O.B.: 28th Desember 1937
Education: Cornell University; Harvard Business School; Harvard University; Bishop Cotton School; The Cathedral & John Connon School; Campion School, Mumbai
Founded: Tata DoCoMo; Tata Teleservices
Ratan Tata’s achievements had led him to be the leading Indian Industrialist who became the Chairman of the largest Tata Group of Companies. The company has been controlling Tata Power, Tata Motors, Tata Steel, Indian Hotels and Tata Manpower Services. Even though his parents separated at his young age, as he was raised by his grandmother, he became actively involved in the family business after he graduated. He took B.S. Architecture and structural engineering from Cornell University in the USA. Then completed his Advanced Management Program at the Harvard Business School in 1975. The rest is history. He was awarded almost year after year with highest local and international award giving bodies in the business including the Padma Vibhusan (India’s second highest civilian honor) in 2009. The latest is the Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire in 2014.
There are some more Indians who recently became famous worldwide due to their contribution to IT advancement:
- Raju Vanapala who is behind the success of way2sms.com (India’s first free sms service)
- Ajit Balakrishnan who created rediff.com
- Ajay Bhatt who co-invented the USB and is also known as the Intel Rock Star
- Sabeer Bhatia who co-created Hotmail.com
- Vinod Dham who is the Father of Pentium Chip
- Sashi Reddi who is the founder of Applabs and FXLabs
- Sam Pitroda who is well known as The Father if India’s Communication Revolution
- Pranav Mistry for his work Sixth Sense Technology
- Narinder Singh Kapany who is the Father of fiber optics
- Krishna Bharat who created Google News
- Vinod Khosla who co-founded Sun Microsystems
I bet as the world keeps on changing the IT experience for everyone, more and more Indians will definitely be involved in the future success of any IT related products and services in the market. It is what they (we) are known for I guess. Thus the world expectations become higher, and we need to deal with it. Everyone in the world actually.
Most of the names included in the list above have two things in common as I did notice. One, in the interest to gain more knowledge, they chose to further their studies abroad. This is understandable, not that I am saying the education quality in my native country is nothing, perhaps it could just not afford the resources in the old times. I believe it gets better and recognized these days. The second thing makes me shiver, by knowing the fact that most of them are philanthropists and choose to give percentage of share of their income to help my country or the less fortunate people in my country to improve their living. That takes a lot of dedication to make. Hence, it really is inspiring to know and witness that wealth is just something you achieve but the love for humanity is something that all of us should set a goal for.