November 26 marks the first death anniversary of the Indian IT titan FC Kohli, the first CEO of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). He pioneered the growth and construction of the $100 billion+ Indian IT behemoth TCS, taking it to new heights. The company, which, as of 2021, is the largest IT services company in the world by market capitalization, has come to define not just the Tata groups but India’s Information technology sector as well.
Kohli was also instrumental in bringing IBM to India, under the 1991 Tata-IBM joint venture, which aimed towards the extension of hardware manufacturing and support in the country. Notably, TCS, which began with a few hundred professionals under his leadership, has now grown to a 5,28,000 strong network of employees.
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The father of India’s software industry, Kohli, who passed away in 2020, constantly emphasised the need for evolution, not just in terms of learning, but also for acceptance of new technologies. FC Kohli, who joined Tata Electric Co in 1951 to set up the country’s first load dispatch center, was asked by JRD Tata to establish TCS in 1969.
In an interview with Moneycontrol earlier, the technocrat who held JRD Tata in very high regard, mentioned, “Changes occur constantly and are not specific to one period but the way that technology is moving and the way people are gaining knowledge is vastly different from my time. The educational institution is very different from what I got and it means that it is easier today to gain knowledge and then build your career. It's not a starting point with an ending point. This country has to update education and teaching methods—one has to learn how to change.”
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Post retiring in 1999 at the age of 75, Kohli remained quite active well into his 90s as well, working on an adult literacy program in multiple languages, which he calls his “biggest contribution” to the country. Designed especially for those who had no prior experience in reading, the program reportedly benefited the concerned individuals, leading to a rise in the literacy levels overall.
On his advice to younger cadres of CEOs and individuals, Kohli believed that the whole world is open for learning and one must keep learning and studying for the future so that one can contribute effectively not just to the industry they belong in, but also to the country in general.
On the occasion, Mr. K. Ananth Krishnan, Chief Technology Officer said “I have learned so much over the last 32 years from the legendary Mr. Faqir Chand Kohli. I used to run into him often while working out of our office in the Air India Building at Nariman point, in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He was a courteous host and would personally pour the tea for you when you visit his office.
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He was amazingly updated on technology and very passionate about several things like the Indian language, computing, hardware, electronics, using technology for social good, and helping the smaller academic institutions. And of course, his humor was remarkable! He has done so much and inspired so many people. But there is one specific area that I would call out, which is dear to my heart- TCS Research & Innovation. He was the primary mover behind the setting up of TCS Research and Innovation. It would be my pride if we can live up to his expectations, and make his vision come to life”.