There have been 48 Bharat Ratna Awardees till date. The majority of the awardees (65%) have been Politicians and Activists. There has been only 1 Industrialist / Entrepreneur in this list and that is the great J.R.D.Tata
Here is the break up of the 48 Bharat Ratna awardees till date
- Independence Activists / Politicians / Former PM’s / Presidents – 31
- Sports / Musicians / Movie Makers – 7
- Social Reformers – 4
- Scientists – 2
- Economists / Scholars of Repute – 2
- Entrepreneurs / Industrialists – 1 .
This list does not do justice to the Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs of our country who have transformed Brand India form a land of snake charmers to the IT Powerhouse of the world.
Rather than debate a Bharat Ratna for Veer Savarkar (No doubt he was a great man) can we live in the present and honour 3 good men and the companies they built. Men who have transformed the image of India, created millions of jobs and helped the economy grow in the last three decades. And they have done it tirelessly for the last 40 years . These are men who successfully started the Make in India mantra in the 1970’s.
Its time we corrected this anomaly . TCS, Infosys & Wipro have a cumulative revenue of ~ 45B USD and employ over a million people. They in turn generate subsidiary jobs for 8 million people. In total just these 3 companies directly & indirectly provide sustenance to ~ 45M people (Assuming average family size of 5).
They are the foundation on which the great Indian IT industry has been built. These companies over the years have transformed the way we live and contributed immensely to the success of the country. In 2019 the Indian IT Industry contributed 8% to the GDP.
Credit for this needs to be given to the visionary founders F.C.Kohli (Father of the Indian Software industry), Narayana Murthy (Considered to be among the 12 greatest entrepreneurs of our time) and the legendary Azim Premji.
If anybody in India deserves the Bharat Ratna – these 3 definitely do.
Here are a few reasons on why they need to be recognised with India’s highest Civilian Honour
They changed the perception of Brand India. The Indian IT Industry generates a colossal revenue of 175 Billion Dollars every year. Very profitable. I cant even put a number to the cumulative Foreign Exchange it has generated over the last few decades. Its thanks to the efforts of these 3 great men and their companies which spearheaded this movement. They were the leaders who got going against strong headwinds and built organisations on the foundation of Integrity & professionalism making India proud.
Created employment in Millions – Just these 3 companies employe nearly 1M people. For every job in the IT Industry an additional 8 jobs are created in the ancillary industries like Training / Transport / Food / Logistics / Maintenance. It created a construction boom – not just for offices but for residences and apartments. Automobile sales and tourism took off thanks to the high paying IT jobs. The rub off effect could go on and on.
Empowered Women – TCS, Infosys & Wipro were amongst the first companies in India to employs 30 – 40% of their workforce with women. There was no bias – growth was purely based on performance and many grew to leadership roles.
Created wealth – These companies not only created high paying jobs, but they also shared their wealth. India Inc heard of Employee stock Options (ESOP’s) and Restricted Stock Units (RSU”s)from them. Not just the employee but millions of shareholders who invested in these companies have made an unbelievable amount of money.
Lets me now share a brief overview of these visionary leaders and the companies they built. Each one of them were simple, genuine, extremely hard working people who were hands on. They led from the front. The built organisations on rock solid values. Stories about their lifestyle and philanthropy is legendary. They built organisations on the fundamental principle “Respect the Individual – People are our Greatest Assets”
Faqir Chand Kohli – Born March 19th, 1924 he went on to become the 1st CEO of TCS. When TCS was started in 1969 he was the GM. He became Director In Charge and then the Deputy Chairman in 1994. (Ratan Tata was Chairman of Tata Sons from 1990 – 2012)
TCS Today is a global conglomerate with a revenue of 22B and Market Cap of over 100B Dollars. It is the worlds largest IT Services company and operates from 149 locations in 46 countries. 70% of Tata Sons Dividend is generated by TCS.
Azim Premji fondly called as AHP needs no recognition. He was born on July 24th, 1945. (That is why many Wiproites say he works 24/7). Taking over the reigns of Wipro as a young 21 year old after his fathers sudden death he transformed a Vegetable Oil company to a global IT powerhouse. Wipro started its IT Business in the mid 70’s and became a leading Global Software player in the late 80’s. Premji is known for his simple life and strong business ethics. In a country where corruption is rampant he has built an organisation on a strong foundation of integrity and values. There is a famous quote attributed to Premji ” The idea of integrity, in his own words, is black and white. And he says it has to be black and white, because if you play around, and in between black and white, there are many shades of grey”. Wipro with revenues of ~ 10B is respected the world over for this quality.
Narayana Murthy or NRN as he is fondly called is India’s poster boy of a successful entrepreneur. Born on Aug 20th, 1946 the story of how he built Infosys from an initial capital of $250 is legendary. Mr. Murthy conceptualised, articulated and implemented the Global Delivery Model (GDM) which has become the backbone of the Indian software industry. GDM is based on collaborative distributed software development principles and has resulted in the delivery of superior quality software to global customers delivered on time and within budget. Mr. Murthy also introduced the concept of 24-hour work day to the world. Infosys is India’s biggest success story till date.
He is again a simple man and practises what he preaches. At last count Infosys had revenues of 12B +.
Here are 3 good men who truly deserve the Bharat Ratna. They have touched and transformed the lives of millions of middle class Indians – more than any social reformer till date. They may not be a vote bank, they may not help in getting brownie points from any caste – but every Indian will give you a thumbs up for this decision and it will make Brand India shine better in the global arena. It may just be a coincidence that the rules of Bharat Ratna allow 3 awards / year.