CEO Insights Hall of Fame: 8 Pioneers Who Defined the Indian IT Industry

CEO Insights Hall of Fame: 8 Pioneers Who Defined the Indian IT Industry


F.C. Kohli: The Father of India’s IT Revolution


Often referred to as the ‘Bhishma Pitamaha’ of the Indian software company, F.C. Kohli was a gentle giant, a mentor, a master strategist, a visionary, and an exceptional entrepreneur. It will be difficult to fill the emptiness left by his passing. The tale of F.C. Kohli is one that can be told again and again.

Brought the Indian IT Sector Out of its Comfort Zone

Legends like F.C. Kohli, who drew out a bigger picture for the sector rather than operating inside their comfort zones, were largely responsible for the Indian information technology industry's establishment, which is now firmly established on the world map. He was the driving force behind India's Technology Revolution and a key figure in developing its multibillion-dollar IT sector. The IT sector was practically envisioned by F.C. Kohli. Others were merely carrying out and putting his concept into action.

Foreseer of Opportunities

Kohli foresaw an approaching revolution in which India would play a major part long before anyone had any idea how IT may empower enterprises. For example, TCS was offering computing services using outdated systems when he took over the company in the late 1960s. Computers were not given priority by the government, which strictly regulated foreign exchange. F.C. Kohli was not deterred by these obstacles.

He took on the issues head-on and set new standards for delivering cutting-edge technological services using a hybrid model that combines the newest hardware and software.


A brilliant strategist well ahead of his time, he was among the pioneers of the Global Delivery Model, which turned India into the global back office and served as the pivot for today's remote delivery of offshore IT services.

Kohli left TCS in 1999 after a distinguished career. However, he continued to work there as a consultant. He received multiple national and international honors for his groundbreaking work, including India's third-highest civilian honor, the Padma Bhushan in 2002. From the day he hired Mr. Kohli as a trainee at TCS, N. Chandrasekaran, chairman of Tata Sons, stated that he had the honor of working with and learning from the man.

His Influence on TCS Lives On

With its current massive growth, TCS employs skilled men and women from all social classes in India. In a manner, distributive fairness in the workplace was mostly brought about by Kohli. His leadership resulted in a work climate that was gender-neutral.

In a society like India, where discrimination is rampant on many fronts, Kohli created a completely new transparent platform that made top-notch professions available to people of all genders, castes, communities, and geographic locations. This aspect of his contribution was generally overlooked and needs to be recognized. This has resulted in a remarkable transformation in the thinking of the average Indian. In a sense, TCS, or rather the Kohli-led organization, was likely the first in the Indian business world to establish a fair and inclusive work environment.

How TCS Rubbed Off on Kohli

Kohli underwent a similar transformation at TCS, evolving from a management consultant to a technology evangelist and consultant. According to officials within Tata, the Centre's finance ministers have consistently sought his assistance before presenting their yearly budgets. His unique contribution to the field of policy, which is less well-known and acknowledged, was his crusading work in releasing the industry from government regulatory restraints. He helped to demystify the phrase "software," which was widely misinterpreted, and he persuaded the government to release a policy environment that was simple to understand. He was somewhat of a visionary who saw how computers and technology could change the way businesses, governments, and people aspire.

On the surface, Kohil appears to be a serious, bland, and mysterious professional. Kohli's successor, S. Ramadorai, called him a "benevolent dictator" on multiple occasions. But beneath Kohli's tough demeanor was a passionate and imaginative intellect. The depth of his knowledge astounded anyone who knew him. From stock trading to biology, Kohli could talk about anything. That may have given TCS the advantage; it is currently fairly well-represented across a variety of sectors. He was a trailblazer in the transformation of India, a modest idealist.