By N Chandrasekaran

I am deeply saddened by the news that Mr FC 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. Mr Kohli led innovations in far-ranging areas from adult literacy, water purification, software engineering, software automation, complex-systems and cybernetics.

It’s taken for granted now, but if we rewind to 1968, the concept of computing itself was brand new. India had just a handful of computers and everyone was talking about hardware manufacturing. To grasp the potential for a strong services-led economic future through IT services required several leaps of imagination.

I had the pleasure of working with and learning from Mr Kohli from the day he hired me as a trainee in TCS. He was soft at heart, coupled with an unparalleled clarity of thought. Many may not be aware of this, but even during his years with the Tata Electric Companies in the 1960s, he pioneered the use of computers to balance loads and regulate the power grid. His focus on engineering education continues to benefit software companies all over India today.

Mr Kohli’s enduring optimism, pursuit of inquiry and his ability to make ambitious bets holds lessons for us all. Throughout his life, Mr Kohli’s conviction that technology can solve everyday challenges in places like rural India shines a light on how to further his legacy. As always, he has left us a set of next steps to pursue.

(The writer is the chairman of Tata Sons)


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