Azim Premji  |  Photo Credit: PTI
- Azim Premji was born in 1945 in Mumbai the same year that his father Mohamed Hashem Premji had begun a cooking oil business in Amalner (Jalgaon) a small town in Maharashtra
- Premji’s father was a noted and successful businessman and was known as the Rice King of Burma in the pre-Independence days. Pakistan’s founder Jinnah wanted Premji senior to choose Pakistan as his nation but he refused
- Azim Premji’s simplicity and high values have earned him huge respect across India.
Indian tech magnate Azim Premji, born on 24 July 1945, turns 75 today. The Chairman of Wipro Limited has a Real-Time Net Worth of $6.6B as on 24 July 2020.
Education and entry into business:
Wipro, the IT company he founded, at a revenue of $8.4 billion, is India’s fourth-largest outsourcer. Premji was born to an entrepreneur father Mohamed Hashem Premji and was good at studies. He was studying at Stanford (US) in 1966 when he had to abandon studies midway (at the age of 21) to look after the family’s cooking oil business when his father died suddenly. But though it took him 30 years to be able to shell out time to study again, he did complete the Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University.
Seizing the opportunity, riding the IT wave:
Azim Premji took over his late father’s business ( Western Indian Vegetable Products Ltd began in 1945) and diversified into other products such as hydraulic cylinders, soaps, and lighting products. In 1977, he renamed his company as Wipro. After IBM withdrew its business from India, Premji’s company started with manufacturing microcomputers under a technology-sharing agreement with US-based Sentinel Computers and soon diversified into providing software solutions in addition to its hardware operations. In 1999, Wipro became the only Indian computer manufacturer to receive Y2K-compliant certification from the National Software Testing Laboratory in the US.
Simple living, high thinking:
Premji is known to live a simple frugal lifestyle. His employees speak about his honest, modest, frugal ways of dealing in office. Wipro has an innovation centre in Silicon Valley, which is focused on developing new technologies and collaborating with startups. 75-year-old Premji has two sons – Rishad and Tariq. In July 2019, Rishad succeeded his father as Wipro’s executive chairman. Premji would have been the second richest man in India after RIL’s Mukesh Ambani, had he not donated 75% of his wealth.
Azim Premji’s philanthropic arm ‘Azim Premji Foundation’ was founded in 2001 and it works in the area of elementary education, focussing on rural areas to enhance the quality and equity of school education. Not only that, in April 2020, as the coronavirus swept across the world, but the foundation also pledged $134 million towards providing aid for the COVID-19 pandemic in India. Premji is known as one among the world’s most generous billionaires after having given away $21 billion to his charitable foundation earlier.
Seeks fairer treatment of the underprivileged:
When the government had to resort to lockdown to stall the march of the global pandemic, thousands of stranded migrant workers began walking back to their home states by taking to the highways and some followed the silent train tracks. In one such humongous tragedy, 16 of them were mowed down by an oncoming train as they slept on tracks that they trusted will see no train traffic. Premji had been deeply moved by the incident. In a long piece he wrote for the Economic Times, he writes:
“Those sixteen young men died because we have almost no social security and too little protection – not because we have too much of it. Which is also why the lives of hundreds of millions have been torn asunder in the tsunami of the pandemic, not only because of structural poverty and inequality…”
The views expressed by the author are personal and do not in any way represent those of Times Network.