F.C. Kohli, father of Indian IT industry, passes away

Faqir Chand Kohli, (F.C. Kohli), known as the father of Indian Software Industry, passed away in Mumbai on Thursday afternoon following cardiac arrest, Bombay House executives said. He was 96. He is survived by his wife Swarn and other family members.

Mr. Kohli was the founder-CEO of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). He joined Tata Electric Co. in 1951 where he helped set up the load despatching system to manage system operations. He became director of Tata Electric in 1970. As the first CEO of TCS, he pioneered India’s IT revolution and helped the country build the $190-billion IT industry.

Be it the propagation of computerisation in India at a time when no one realised its potential, or bringing the benefits of IT, Mr Kohli saw IT as an instrument of national development, the Tatas said. A visionary and pioneer by nature, he was a recipient of Padma Bhushan from the Government of India.

Mourning his passing away, TCS said Mr. Kohli joined the company in 1969 at the behest of JRD Tata. He pivoted first into management consultancy, and then, over the next two decades, into software development, helping the organisation navigate multiple technology waves over two-and-a-half decades by continually investing in people and staying relevant to customers.

He stepped down as CEO in 1996 and continued to play an active role in promoting technology to solve the country’s social problems.

N. Chandrasekaran, chairman, Tata Sons, in a statement, said,“Mr. Kohli led innovations in areas far-ranging from adult literacy, water purification, software engineering, software automation, complex-systems and cybernetics.”

S. Ramadorai, former CEO and former vice-chairman, TCS, said “Faqir Chand Kohli was a brilliant technocrat and a business leader with varied interests.The nation has lost a legend today.”

In a statement Rajesh Gopinathan, CEO and MD, TCS, said, “Over the nearly three decades that he led TCS, his sense of purpose, his clarity of vision, strength of character and unwavering belief in investing in people left an indelible stamp on the organization’s culture.”

“As we move forward on the path he charted out for us,we continue to draw inspiration from Mr. Kohli’s passion for technology, intellectual rigour, community spirit and his relentless drive until the very end.”

“Mr. Kohli was the visionary leader who foresaw the opportunity of India in technology services and built TCS many decades back when almost nothing existed in the tech sector in India,” said industry body Nasscom.

As chairman of Nasscom in 1994-95, Mr. Kohli led the industry and Nasscom build global partnerships in key markets, showcase the opportunity for IT services from India and build a culture of collaboration in the industry members.

Ashok Soota, founder of Happiest Minds, said, “He is a giant among giants. A true leader who did his job incredibly well for a long period. He came across extremely supportive whenever I reached out to him for any industry related guidance.”

Mr. Kohli got active support from Mr. JRD Tata to build TCS into a company which had a market capitalsation of ₹10,20,967.59 crore on Thursday. TCS is the most valuable company of the Tata Group.

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