In 1945, Muhammed Hashim Premji incorporated Western Indian Vegetable Products Ltd, based at
Amalner, a small town in the Jalgaon district of Maharashtra. It used to manufacture cooking
oil under the brand name Sunflower Vanaspati, and a laundry soap called 787, a byproduct of
oil manufacture. In 1966, on the news of his father's death, the then 21-year-old Azim
Premji returned home from Stanford University, where he was studying engineering, to take
charge of Wipro. The company, which was called Western Indian Vegetable Products at the
time, dealt in hydrogenated oil manufacturing but Azim Premji later diversified the company
to bakery fats, ethnic ingredient based toiletries, hair care soaps, baby toiletries,
lighting products, and hydraulic cylinders. In the 1980s, the young entrepreneur,
recognising the importance of the emerging IT field, took advantage of the vacuum left
behind by the expulsion of IBM from India, changed the company name to Wipro and entered the
high-technology sector by manufacturing minicomputers in technological collaboration with an
American company Sentinel Computer Corporation. Thereafter Premji made a focused shift
from soaps to software.
Premji has been recognised by Business Week as one of the Greatest Entrepreneurs for being
responsible for Wipro emerging as one of the world's fastest growing companies.
In 2000, he was conferred an honorary doctorate by the Manipal Academy of Higher Education.
2006, Azim Premji was awarded Lakshya Business Visionary by National Institute of Industrial
Engineering, Mumbai. In 2009, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Wesleyan University
Middletown, Connecticut for his outstanding philanthropic work. In 2015, Mysore University
conferred an honorary doctorate on him.
In 2005, the Government of India honoured him with the title of Padma Bhushan for his
outstanding work in trade and commerce.
In 2011, he has been awarded Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award by the
Government of India.
In April 2017, India Today magazine ranked him 9th in India's 50 Most powerful people of
In 2018, Premji was conferred with Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur (Knight of the Legion of
Honour) – the highest French civilian distinction by the French Government.
In December 2019, Premji was cited by Forbes magazine as one of the 'Heroes of Philanthropy
of 30 altruists' in the Asia-Pacific region. In 1978 Modi received a Bachelor of Arts degree
in political science from School of Open
University of Delhi, graduating with a third class. Five years later, in 1983, he received a
Arts degree in political science from Gujarat University, graduating with a first class as
distance learning student.