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Azim Premji: A Legendary Rich Reaches The Hearts

A character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and error can the soul be strengthened, ambitious, inspired, and successful. Here is the similar story of Azim Premji, Indian business entrepreneur who served as chairman of Wipro Limited, guiding the company through four decades of diversification and growth to emerge as a world leader in the software industry. This business tycoon is these days perhaps more known for his philanthropy than his wealth or business skills.

By Pallabi Ghatak

Azim Premji: A Legendary Rich Reaches The Hearts

Azim Premji is certainly one of the forerunners in expanding the IT industry in India and which is making the world see India's hold on the IT sector. In 2010, he was voted among the 20 most powerful men in the world by Asiaweek. He has twice been listed among the 100 most influential people by TIME Magazines. His net worth according to India's Richest 2019 list by Forbes named him the 19th richest person in India with an estimated net worth of US$6.5 billion.


In 1945, Muhammed Hashim Premji incorporated Western Indian Vegetable Products Ltd., dealt in hydrogenated oil manufacturing, based at Amalner, Maharashtra. It started with manufacturing cooking oil with the brand name 'Sunflower Vanaspati', along with laundry soap called 787, a byproduct of oil manufacture. In 1966, after getting the news of his father's demise, Azom Premji, 21-years old returned home from Stanford University,  from where he started studying engineering, to take charge of the company. A man's worth is no greater than the worth of his ambition - Azim Premji later enlarged the company for manufacturing bakery fats, ethnic ingredient based toiletries, hair care soaps, baby toiletries, lighting products, and hydraulic cylinders.


In 1977, the company was officially renamed as Wipro after Azim Premji officially took over, treading cautiously when it came to the IT industry. At that point, IBM was a strong competitor but when the IT company left India for good in 1980, Premji struck when the iron is hot! Wipro's entry into the IT world opened an array of possibilities for the new company.

Byu 1980, Wipro successfully established a number of successful international partnerships that help it build computer hardware for sale in India. Wipro collaborated with US-based Sentinel Computer Corporation. This was the beginning of the Indian IT revolution that transformed the entire nation, especially post-liberalization.

Wipro-GE manufactured medical imaging and diagnosis devices. In 1999, they worked with Acer to produce personal computers for the Indian market. In addition, in 1999, Wipro became the first Indian computer manufacturer who received Y2K-compliant certification from the National Software Testing Laboratory in the US. It also provided internet services in India with Royal Dutch Telecom (KPN).

Wipro has metamorphosed from an Rs.70 million company in hydrogenated cooking fats in providing globally integrated business, technology, and process solution. Wipro Technologies is among the top 100 technology companies globally and is the largest independent R&D service provider in the world.

The Giving Pledge: There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up. Premji became the first Indian and the third non-American to sign up for The Giving Pledge, a campaign led by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, to encourage the wealthy people to donate for philanthropic causes. He gave away one-fourth of his wealth.

Azim Premji Foundation: Premji began addressing the social causes, focusing on the grass-root level the "Indian Education System"; thus, in 2000, he started Azim Premji Foundation which now also runs Azim Premji University.

In December 2010, he pledged to donate US$2 billion for improving school education in India which is the largest of its kind in India. In March 2019, gave 34% of Wipro stock held by him as a security to the foundation which will bring the total endowment from him to the foundation to US$21 billion.

In May 2020, this foundation collaborated with the National Centre for Biological Sciences and the Institute for Stem Cell Science and Regenerative Medicine for augmenting testing infrastructure to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.


Azim Premji has received numerous tributes to date, the best one being, India's second-highest civilian honor, Padma Vibhushan, for his contribution to the business world. In 2005, Premji was given the title of Padma Bhushan for his exceptional effort in trade and business by the Government of India.

In 2018, Premji was conferred with Knight of the Legion of Honour - the highest French civilian distinction by the French Government. In December 2019, he was cited by Forbes magazine as one of the 'Heroes of Philanthropy list of 30 altruists' in the Asia-Pacific region

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