While the Tata group is searching for an able successor to Ratan Tata, Azim Premji is the most suitable successor to JRD Tata - not as Tata Group Chairman, but as a Corporate who does "nation building" as a passion. JRD, in my opinion did more for nation building than all political leaders worth his salt, put together, today. He started Tata Airlines which became Air India, set up world class premier institutions like Tata Institute for Fundamental Research (TIFR), Tata Memorial Hospital, Tata Institute for Social Sciences (TISS), & the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA), to name a few. Azim Premji is the closest who qualifies, as I see it.
While continuing to lead one of India's best known IT companies, he has set up a foundation years ago, the Azim Premji Foundation, which focuses on education. This foundation has transformed the lives of many rural school children and teachers in rural Karnataka. They have dramatically improved the pass percentage of the schools in which they work and have inspired children to continue their education. Education is one the key sectors which need transformation in our country today and Education is the key to getting millions of Indians out of the poverty trap, their families face.
This current academic year, his foundation has set up a University that will offer PG courses in education, social work etc. This in my opinion, will be one of a kind of University, where Education is the main focus and not commercial interests, unlike many other Universities that dot the Indian skies, today.
Unlike many of his contemporaries, Azim Premji keeps to himself and rarely speaks out on National issues. But, when he does speak, the Nation listens. His article on the Commonwealth Games in the Times of India and Economic Times front pages in August 2010, is one such example. He does not brag about his foundation work and instead lets the transformation do the talking. I really salute this simple man who has achieved and contributed to nation building like no other in his generation.