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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Edition6: F C Kohli: Father of Indian IT


F.C. Kohli is universally regarded as the father of the Indian software industry. He carried the title of vice-chairman of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) for years (Nani Palkhiwala was nominally chairman then). Kohli has been the architect and the driving force of TCS' phenomenal success. It is the first real Indian multinational, and led the way for every other software company to follow. It continues its leadership position and grows year on year in sales and profits without any surprises. Its blue-chip roster of Western clients makes it the envy of every other company, and it has a large domestic base too. However, the goal of TCS going public eluded Kohli till he stepped down as chairman in 2000. Kohli continues to be hyperactive, focussing his energies on education. His current brainchild is to use computer aided sounds and images to impart basic literacy, particularly to illiterate adults, in a matter of months.
Dr. Kohli was born on February 28, 1924. After obtaining a BA and BSc (Hons) at the Punjab University, Lahore, he came to Queen's where he obtained a BSc (Hons) in Electrical Engineering, and went on to complete a MS Electrical Engineering Degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In 1951 he returned to India and started working for the Tata Electric Company, advancing until he became Director of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), India's premier information technology organization in 1974.
By encouraging research and development, introducing advanced technology and advocating for progressive changes in the industry at the government level, Dr. Kohli transformed the company from a 10-person operation to one with 10,000 consultants working in 20 countries around the world.
He is attributed with creating, nurturing and growing India's software industry from scratch.
Dr. Kohli received numerous national and international awards and honours, among them an honorary doctorate in Engineering from University of Waterloo in 1990 and India's third-highest civilian honour, the Padma Bhusan in 2002.
Since retiring in 1999, Dr. Kohli continues as a consultant with TCS, encouraging an increase in hardware availability in India to support the Indian software industry and improved access to technology in rural areas. He is currently using multimedia technology to increase literacy standards in India through a unique 'Functional Learning' concept.
Dr. Kohli credits Queen's Applied Science program with providing him the skills in management and strategic planning that proved invaluable preparation for his future. He continues to inspire generations of young people with his commitment to give back to society something of what he has received from it.
Kohli started off as an engineer with Tata Power Company and rose through the ranks to become the deputy general manager. Was offered the reigns of Tata's fledgling IT company, TCS, in 1969. Over the next two decades and more Kohli shaped the destiny of TCS. He was the first to talk about Tandem, first to import an IBM 3090, to maintain that mainframes are not dead, and to question the openness of open systems-even before most of the world addressed these concerns. He continues to work on projects that will spread computing in the country, and in recent years has been focusing on hardware and micro-electronics. Widely credited as the father of Indian Software Industry, F.C.Kohli has secured a place in the Indian IT annals of history. Its thanks to him that, TCS defined the offshoring phenomenon, and established rules, which hundreds of firms entre-preneurial as well as established one shave followed since then.

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