Shiv Nadar, a name that resonates with innovation, entrepreneurship, and philanthropy, is an iconic figure in India's business landscape. Born on July 14, 1945, he has played a pivotal role in shaping the IT industry and educational institutions in India.
In the mid-1970s, Shiv Nadar embarked on a journey that would redefine India's IT landscape. He founded HCL Technologies, initially an IT hardware company, and over the next three decades, transformed it into a global IT enterprise. His visionary leadership turned HCL into a formidable player in the technology sector, earning him accolades and recognition both in India and abroad.
One of the most notable honours bestowed upon Nadar was the Padma Bhushan in 2008, a prestigious award recognising his outstanding contributions to the IT industry. His friends affectionately referred to him as "Magus," a term derived from Old Persian, meaning "wizard," signifying his visionary capabilities.
While his achievements in the IT sector are remarkable, Shiv Nadar's true legacy lies in his commitment to education. Since the mid-1990s, he has channelled his efforts into revamping India's educational system through the Shiv Nadar Foundation. This foundation is dedicated to making quality education accessible to all, regardless of their background.
Shiv Nadar's journey began in the village of Moolaipozhi in Tamil Nadu, where he was born into a Tamil Hindu family. His parents, Sivasubramaniya Nadar and Vamasundari Devi, instilled in him the values of hard work and perseverance. Notably, his mother, Vamasundari Devi, is the sister of S. P. Adithanar, the founder of the renowned Dina Thanthi newspaper.
Nadar's educational path took him through various institutions, including Town Higher Secondary School in Kumbakonam, Elango Corporation Higher Secondary School in Madurai, and St. Joseph Boys Higher Secondary School in Trichy. His academic journey eventually led to him obtaining a degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore, following a pre-university degree at the American College in Madurai.
Shiv Nadar's professional journey commenced in 1967 when he joined Walchand Group's Cooper Engineering Ltd. in Pune. However, his entrepreneurial spirit soon led him to venture into his own enterprise. He partnered with friends and colleagues, including Ajai Chowdhry, Arjun Malhotra, Subhash Arora, Yogesh Vaidya, S. Raman, Mahendra Pratap, and DS Puri, to establish Microcomp. This company focused on selling teledigital calculators in the Indian market and marked the initial steps of Nadar's entrepreneurial career.
In 1976, Nadar, armed with an investment of Rs. 187,000, founded HCL, setting the stage for a remarkable journey. What started as a small enterprise soon evolved into a global IT powerhouse.
In 1980, HCL made its international debut with the establishment of Far East Computers in Singapore, specialising in IT hardware sales. The venture achieved remarkable success, reporting Rs. 1 million in revenue in its inaugural year. Shiv Nadar remained the largest shareholder, even as he relinquished management control.
In July 2020, a historic transition occurred when Shiv Nadar passed the baton to his daughter, Roshni Nadar. She became the first woman chair of a listed Indian IT company, a momentous achievement in the history of Indian business. In July 2021, Nadar further stepped down as the managing director of HCL Technologies, succeeded by C Vijayakumar, HCL Tech CEO, for a five-year term.
Shiv Nadar's commitment to education is not limited to the Shiv Nadar Foundation; it extends to various educational institutions and initiatives across the country. In 1996, he founded the SSN College of Engineering in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, in honour of his father, Sivasubramaniya Nadar. He actively participated in the college's activities, including a generous donation of Rs. 10 lakh worth of HCL shares to support its growth.
In 2006, Nadar announced the college's expansion into research and collaborations with foreign universities, ensuring students benefitted from global exposure. His involvement in education extended to joining the executive board of the Indian School of Business in 2005.
In March 2008, Nadar's SSN Trust made a significant announcement— the establishment of two Vidyagyan schools in Uttar Pradesh. These schools offered free scholarships to 200 rural students from 50 districts in the state, reaffirming Nadar's commitment to education at all levels. His dedication even extended to his alma mater, as he visited Town Higher Secondary School in February 2011, donating computers and equipment worth Rs. 80 lakh.
Shiv Nadar's contributions to education were not limited to Chennai. He served as the chairman of the board of governors at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur (IIT Kharagpur or IIT-KGP), a technical institute, until 2014.
In recognition of his exceptional contributions to the IT industry, the Government of India honoured Shiv Nadar with the Padma Bhushan in 2008, marking his enduring impact.
The accolades continued with an honorary doctorate degree from Madras University in 2007 and the E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year 2007 award (Services). Forbes acknowledged his philanthropic endeavours by including him among its 48 Heroes of Philanthropy in Asia Pacific in 2011.
In April 2017, India Today magazine ranked Shiv Nadar 16th on India's 50 most powerful people list, further highlighting his significant influence. His philanthropic contributions have surpassed $1 billion, affirming his belief in giving back to society.
In a world driven by technology and education, Shiv Nadar's legacy stands as a shining example of how one individual's vision, determination, and philanthropy can transform industries and change lives. His contributions to both IT and education continue to inspire generations, and his family carries forward this remarkable legacy of innovation and giving.