Faqir Chand Kohli, often called the ‘Father of the Indian IT industry, passed into the pages of history on Thursday. With this an era comes to an end. Kohli was 96. Born in March 1924, Kohli studied at Khalsa Middle School, and later National High School. He did his BA and BSc. Honours from Government College, Lahore. After completing his graduation at MIT, he worked with General Electric for some time and when he returned in 1951, India was divided. The Partition affected his family in numerous ways, but in the meanwhile, he got a job offer from the Tatas – a decision that made him decide to stay back in India.
Kohli initially joined Tata Electric Companies in 1951, and helped to set up the load dispatching system to manage the company’s system operations. But he truly shined after going on to become the first CEO of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), which in the 1970s was still struggling to get on its feet, primarily delivering punch card system services and archaic bank reconciliation solutions. Kohli, however, managed to turn it around, going on to help kick-start the country’s IT revolution and pitch for India as an IT superpower. Kohli stepped down as TCS’ CEO in 1996 and continued to play an active role in promoting technology to solve the country’s social problems.
Tata Sons Chairman N. Chandrasekaran said: “I am deeply saddened by the news that Mr F.C. Kohli passed away this afternoon. He was a true legend, who laid the very foundations for India’s spectacular IT revolution and set the stage for the dynamic modern economy we enjoy today.” He said that Kohli led innovations in areas far-ranging from adult literacy, water purification, software engineering, software automation, complex systems and cybernetics.
“I have had the honour and privilege of working with and learning from Mr. Kohli from the day he hired me as a trainee in TCS. Despite his momentous achievements, his simplicity and thoughtfulness is a lesson for us all. His enduring optimism and his ability to make ambitious bets leaves a legacy - one that has advanced a nation,” Chandrasekaran said.
“A pioneer who saw the future and built the IT industry in India, has many admirers in the industry. We were fortunate to capture his thoughts on building the industry and TCS through itihaasa app. Will miss his thoughts and advice for the industry,” said Kris Gopalakrishnan, Co-Founder, Infosys Ltd.
“Sad day for Indian IT. He was not just the first CEO of TCS but someone who laid the foundation of India’s greatest growth story,” CP Gurnani, CEO, Tech Mahindra said in a tweet.