He is one of the giants that shaped the Indian IT Industry and took it to the levels it stands currently, amongst the top nations in the world. He is not only a top businessman and investor but also a philanthropist, all these roles being adequately played whilst being Chairman of Wipro Limited. Let us wish, Azim Premji, born 24th July 1945, a very Happy Birthday.

Azim Premji was born in Bombay (now Mumbai) to reputed businessman Muhammed Hashem Premji and doctor and social worker, Dr. Gulbanoo M H Premji. Hashem had registered a company called Western Indian Vegetable Products Ltd in Jalgaon District of Maharashtra and manufactured a cooking oil, branded Sunflower Vanaspati along with laundry soap called ‘787’ from the by-product. Such was his reputation that Mohammed Ali Jinnah personally invited him to shift to Pakistan following the partition; but he refused. Hashem unfortunately passed away in 1966 and Azim, who was at that moment pursuing his Electrical Engineering at Stanford University, had to give up his studies and come back to India to take charge of the company. He actually went on to complete his graduation from Stanford after 30 years.

Premji diversified the business set up by his father and they came out with new products including toiletries manufactured from ethnic ingredients, beauty and baby care products, lighting items as well as hydraulic cylinders. In the early 1980s, Premji realized the emerging importance of IT industry and decided to become an early mover, taking full advantage of the fact that IBM had just been expulsed from the country. The company was renamed Wipro and it started the manufacturing of Mini-Computers partnering with US Based Sentinel Computer Corporation for technological collaboration. The rest as they say is history as Wipro Limited is recognized as one of the pioneers in the IT Industry, and he has been dubbed as the ‘Czar’ of the Indian IT Industry.

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It is not being just one of the top Industrialists of India that defines Premji. His philanthropic work is also unparalleled. He set up the Azim Premji Foundation in 2001 and by 2019 has transferred 39% of his stake in Wipro to the foundation to be used for non-profit social work. His commitment and work towards improving school education in India is exemplary. He was the first Indian business tycoon to sign up for “The Giving Pledge” campaign and has till date almost donated USD $21 Billion for charity work.
He has been recognized and awarded not only in India but across the world for his industrial leadership as well as his Philanthropic work. Universities across the world have conferred him with honorary Doctorates. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2005 for his epoch-making contribution to Indian trade and commerce. He was further awarded the Padma Vibhushan (second highest Civilian Award in India) in 2011. He has also been conferred with the “Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur”, the highest award given to civilians in France, in the year 2018.

Premji is married to Yasmeen Premji and the two of them are parents to two sons – Rishad and Tariq. Rishad has since 2019 taken over the mantle of Chairmanship of Wipro after serving as Chief Strategy Officer in the organization for close to a decade. Tariq takes care of the philanthropic side of work in the Azim Premji foundation, whilst also heading the consumer care and lighting divisions.

In the challenging times of today, India needs leaders like Azim Premji to guide us through one of the toughest economic crises that we might face, owing to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
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Management graduate with 20 years experience serving in Senior Management role, from Guwahati but currently based in Mumbai, writer by passion regularly blogging on happenings across the world!

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