|Bill Gates of India
|157 cm (5′ 2”)
| July 24,
Indian business tycoon in the software industry who lead Wipro Limited for over four decades, making it one of the most profitable companies in all of India. He is also a recognized philanthropist, and was the first Indian to join the Giving Pledge, created by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.
In 1967 he returned home from Stanford University, where he was studying engineering, to take charge of Wipro.
In 1945, Muhammed Hashim Premji incorporated Western Indian Vegetable Products Ltd, based at Amalner, a small town in the Jalgaon district of Maharashtra. It used to manufacture cooking oil under the brand name Sunflower Vanaspati, and a laundry soap called 787, a byproduct of oil manufacture. In 1966, on the news of his father’s death, the then 21-year-old Azim Premji returned home from Stanford University, where he was studying engineering, to take charge of Wipro. The company, which was called Western Indian Vegetable Products at the time, dealt in hydrogenated oil manufacturing but Azim Premji later diversified the company to bakery fats, ethnic ingredient based toiletries, hair care soaps, baby toiletries, lighting products, and hydraulic cylinders. In the 1980s, the young entrepreneur, recognising the importance of the emerging IT field, took advantage of the vacuum left behind by the expulsion of IBM from India, changed the company name to Wipro and entered the high-technology sector by manufacturing minicomputers in technological collaboration with an American company Sentinel Computer Corporation. Thereafter Premji made a focused shift from soaps to software.
In 2000, he was conferred an honorary doctorate by the Manipal Academy of Higher Education. In 2006, Azim Premji was awarded Lakshya Business Visionary by National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai. In 2009, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut for his outstanding philanthropic work. In 2015, Mysore University conferred an honorary doctorate on him.
In 2001, he founded Azim Premji Foundation,a non-profit organization.
In 2005, the Government of India honoured him with the title of Padma Bhushan for his outstanding work in trade and commerce.
In December 2010, he pledged to donate US$2 billion for improving school education in India. This has been done by transferring 213 million equity shares of Wipro Ltd, held by a few entities controlled by him, to the Azim Premji Trust. This donation is the largest of its kind in India. In March 2019, Premji pledged an additional 34% of Wipro stock held by him to the foundation. At a current value of about US$7.5 billion, this allocation will bring the total endowment from him to the foundation to US$21 billion.
In 2011, he has been awarded Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award by the Government of India.
In April 2013 he said that he has already given more than 25 per cent of his personal wealth to charity.
In July 2015, he gave away an additional 18% of his stake in Wipro, taking his total contribution so far to 39%.
In April 2017, India Today magazine ranked him 9th in India’s 50 Most powerful people of 2017 list.
In 2018, Premji was conferred with Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur (Knight of the Legion of Honour) – the highest French civilian distinction by the French Government.
In December 2019, Premji was cited by Forbes magazine as one of the ‘Heroes of Philanthropy list of 30 altruists’ in the Asia-Pacific region.
The first Indian to sign the Giving Pledge, his lifetime giving now stands at US$21 billion. In April 2019, Azim Premji became the main Indian philanthropist.
In May 2020, the Azim Premji 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 topped the list of “India’s most generous” released by Hurun India and EdelGive on 10 November 2020. He donated ₹7,904 crore in financial year 2019-20 which is a 17-fold jump from the ₹453 crore donated in FY19. Education is the primary cause for his donations.
Currently, Azim Premji is 76 years, 2 months and 28 days old. Azim Premji will celebrate 77th birthday on a Sunday 24th of July 2022.
Find out about Azim Premji birthday activities in timeline view here.