Ajai Chowdhry, known as the ‘Father of Hardware in India,’ embarked on a journey that would shape the technological landscape of the country. Graduating with an engineering degree from Jabalpur, Chowdhry’s humble beginnings offered no inkling of the pivotal role he would play in India’s tech revolution.

Born into a family that had migrated from Pakistan during Partition and settled in a refugee camp, Chowdhry’s father was an esteemed IAS officer. Despite his challenging background, Chowdhry’s determination led him to a significant role in the annals of India’s IT sector. He bid adieu to his Rs 600 per month job and embarked on a path that etched his name in the inspiring success stories of the industry.

One of the six founding members of HCL Technologies, Chowdhry collaborated with stalwarts like Arjun Malhotra and business magnate Shiv Nadar. Amidst these luminaries, he embarked on his career journey after completing his engineering degree from Jabalpur, a decision that would ultimately shape the technology landscape of India. Beginning in sales at DCM Data Products, a prominent player in India’s computer industry, Chowdhry’s monthly earnings of Rs 600 held immense significance. It was during this tenure that he crossed paths with the likes of Nadar and Malhotra, setting the stage for transformative collaborations.

The company’s initial moniker was ‘Micro comp’, with other visionary founders including DS Puri, Subhash Arora, and DS Puri. However, in 1970, the company underwent a transformation, reemerging as HCL – an acronym for Hindustan Computers Limited. With a modest starting capital of Rs 1.8 lakh, the company would later emerge as a tech giant, boasting a market capitalization exceeding Rs 320,000 crore.

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Chowdhry’s early days at HCL were marked by his leadership in the realm of sales, particularly in South India. Based in Chennai, he and his dedicated team made remarkable strides in capturing the business landscape of Chennai and later Coimbatore. His vision extended beyond national borders, driving the company’s expansion into international territories like China and Hong Kong. From 1999 to 2012, Chowdhry also held the esteemed position of Chairman at HCL, steering the company towards new horizons.

Ajai Chowdhry contributions did not go unnoticed, as demonstrated by his recognition with the prestigious Padma Bhushan Award in 2011. Post his corporate journey, Chowdhry transitioned into roles as a mentor, educationist, and activist. His impact extended to institutions like IIT Hyderabad and IIT Patna, where he served on the board. As the Chairman of FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry), he continued to shape India’s economic landscape. Notably, Chowdhry’s association with the Union Ministry of Electronics and IT, as a member of the semiconductor advisory board, underscored his ongoing commitment to the sector’s growth.

In 2021, he co-founded the EPIC Foundation, a non-profit organization, further solidifying his dedication to societal betterment. Ajai Chowdhry’s journey from a modest beginning to a technology luminary serves as a testament to the potential that lies within the Indian tech ecosystem.