Shiv Nadar tells HCL’s success story

By : |January 14, 2011 0

What made you to choose your company name as HCL? Who selected the name? Can you remember the date and venue of selecting the name? Which are the other names that were shortlisted?

It was 34 years ago on August 11, 1976 that I, with my 5 fellow founders, left a secure corporate job with a dream that the microprocessor would change the world. With around Rs 1.8 lakh, a fire in the belly and a desire to truly impact an emerging Indian business and economic landscape, we set out for this journey.

We got into a joint venture with the UP Electronic Corporation. It was a sort of first, being a Public-Private Partnership (PPP), as it was then easier for PSUs to get a licence to do business.


The company was formed as a ‘private limited’ company with the Uttar Pradesh Government holding a 26 per cent stake. This therefore enabled the company to use the name “Hindustan” Computers Limited.

We wanted a brand of a national reckoning, which would have been difficult to achieve in a completely private setup. Another name which the UP government had proposed was “Uttar Pradesh Computers Limited”; however, we went with the former choice because it had a nationwide resonance.

Your company name was Hindustan Computers Ltd. Why it was changed to HCL then?

Dr. TG Subhash, email:

Hindustan Computers Limited was the mother company established in 1976. At that time the name of the game was hardware and our business was focused on manufacturing world’s first computers. As we evolved into more areas of operations we came out with multiple businesses — HCL Infosystems, HCL Insol, NIIT, HCL Consulting, HCL Perot, HCL Deluxe, HCL Comnet, HCL Peripherals, HCL OA.

With this diversification it was essential to retain the original identity of the company. Therefore it was only logical to go ahead with the abbreviated version — HCL.

If you look at companies like HP, IBM, the trend has been to evolve into abbreviated name forms as you grow into many domains. However, all our businesses have today come under 2 listed entities — HCL Technologies and HCL Infosystems.

Why HCL took the route of product development and continued, while some of the companies shifted to services?


HCL is a pioneer of modern computing. Even before the world had any cognizance of India as an economy, HCL had made a mark with its microprocessor in the 1980s. Since its inception, HCL’s core focus area has been technology and product development and hence we continued to remain in the high end of technology throughout the 1990s.

We were a late entrant in the services domain; however, in 2000, as soon as HCL Technologies was listed, we emerged as one of the top 5 IT players of India of the 21st century.

Since then, there has been no looking back. In the long term the focus on high-end technology has worked well for HCL. Most of our peers are in the IT / application-based business while HCL has a more robust service portfolio. India continues to see HCL as a technology major vis-a-vis most of our peers, who fall in the IT sphere.

How do you look at the journey of HCL since its inception in 1976, and where is the group standing now? What are your future plans to make HCL the top-most company? Also, I would like to know why did you stop your development in testing?

Praveen R

We are not just in the business of technologies; we are in the business of building lasting institutions of excellence. Therefore both HCL Technologies and HCL Infosystems have emerged as institutions in their own right, which will last beyond the lifetime of their founders and their technologies will continue to touch lives for many years to come.

At this point, both the companies are professionally managed and run by an extremely competent board of directors and their respective CEOs at the helm. As for me, I had stepped back and handed over the reins in the 1980s to Ajai Chowdhry for HCL Infosystems, and to Late Shri S. Raman, and then Vineet Nayar, for HCL Technologies.

This has given me time to do what I do the best — reflect and strategize for the future; however, my involvement with the group companies has come down.

Now I am increasingly spending time on the Shiv Nadar Foundation where I am building institutions of excellence of a different sort, whose impact will perhaps be equal, if not larger, to that of HCL. Many people are aware of what the Shiv Nadar Foundation is doing — my vision is to empower individuals with transformational education to mould leadership. At these institutions, education isn’t about literacy, numeracy or self sufficiency alone, but the kind that builds world changers.

The key initiatives of the Shiv Nadar Foundation, the SSN Institutions and VidyaGyan, have today come to become India’s top private engineering college and school respectively. Their core focus is to provide access to world-class education to extremely challenged but meritorious sections of the country.

What made you open an art museum?


Kiran Nadar Museum of Art is being driven by my wife — Kiran. Kiran has been passionately collecting art since the past two decades. Eventually she decided to set up an art museum as she always felt that art should receive its appreciation for what it is. On January 23, 2010, we launched the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA), India’s first philanthropic private museum, to instill a deep appreciation and enjoyment of art, by making it visible and accessible to the global public in a world-class museum.

While the Shiv Nadar Foundation is focused on the area of transformational education, it is certainly not limited to classroom training. The focus of Shiv Nadar Foundation is rather on the underdeveloped disciplinary areas in India related to philanthropic transformational education, creativity and art.

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