On July 24, 1945, Azim Hasham Premji was born in a Muslim family in erstwhile Bombay. Interestingly, his father established Western Indian Vegetable Products Ltd in the same year. After two years, when India was divided, his father refused to go to Pakistan.
With more than 1700 employees, the Foundation is active in more than 48 districts of six states and one union territory. These states include Karnataka, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Puducherry. After the festivities as we prepare to unwrap our Diwali gifts, it is interesting to know who gifts most of the smiles in the country. Finding the name of India’s biggest philanthropist is no brainer. Anyone who follows the news cycle can name the person whose first name ‘Azim’ indicates greatness. He is Azim Premji.
Recently, EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2021 found Premji as India’s most generous philanthropist for the second consecutive year. The septuagenarian industrialist has an annual donation of Rs 9,713 crore, which comes down to Rs 27 crore every day.
On this occasion, it will be nice to know some unknown facts about the 76-year-old Azim Premji.
It was the year 1966 when his life took a big turn. He was pursuing his degree in engineering at Stanford University when his father breathed his last. He postponed his graduation. After returning to India, he took the reins of the family business and took it to a new level.
Soon after getting into the driving seat of his family business, he diversified and entered into consumer products like shoes, light bulbs, soap and also hydraulic cylinders.
After 11 years of taking the family business in his hand, he renamed it – WIPRO in 1977. A big turn in life was waiting for him. In 1979, IBM shut its operation in India after a tussle with the Indian government. Getting leaf from this episode, Premji began to steer the company towards the computer business.
Initially, the company was into computer hardware and had established a number of successful international partnerships. However, its global fortunes clicked with the software development.
This was the time when India was registering its presence in software development globally. Three big names Infosys, Tata Consultancy Service along with Wipro showed their presence worldwide and caught the imagination of Indian youths.
Premji was unique here too. Despite his vast personal wealth, Premji continued to be known for his modesty, lack of extravagance, and charity.
In 2001, he established the nonprofit Azim Premji Foundation, which is supporting lakhs of marginlised to improve their life standard even now. The Foundation is active in improving elementary education in rural region across the country. By the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the foundation had extended computer-aided education to more than 16,000 schools, with child-friendly content increasingly available in local languages.
By 2010, the Foundation realised that working on a “project” mode was inadequate and it takes continuous effort over many decades for any deep-rooted change to happen. Subsequent to this, it got into setting up District Institutes in field locations.
In 2010, the Foundation established a university in Bengaluru. It aims to run teaching programs and conduct research to contribute to the social sector in India, and to be an exemplar higher education institution – with inclusion and quality.
Premji is the only living Indian who has featured in Edelgive Hurun India Philanthropists of the century.