IIT Madras Alumnus Sunil Wadhwani Donates Rs. 110 Crore To Institute

Indian colleges continue to benefit from the largesse of their successful alumni.

IIT Madras alumnus Sunil Wadhwani has donated Rs. 110 crore to his alma mater. The donation will be used to set up the Wadhwani School of Data Science and artificial intelligence (AI) in the institute. The school will aim to advise the Government and policymakers on data science and AI-related policy areas. This gift is one of the largest given by an alumnus to create a school at an educational institution in India.

“With the advancements in science and technology, India holds immense potential and can be a world leader in AI and allied sciences,” Sunil Wadhwani said. He added that he sees a strong need for a dedicated Data Science and AI school focusing on foundational and applied research.

“IIT Madras has started this highly interdisciplinary school involving faculty from many departments joining hands to work on niche areas, including Responsible AI,” IIT Madras Director V. Kamakoti said. He said that the need for a school for Data Science and AI is critical with the advent of Industry 4.0 wherein AI and Data Science are the main movers.

Sunil Wadhwani, 70, is the founder of US-based IT services companies IGATE and Mastech Digital. He’d graduated from IIT Madras in 1974, and then moved to the US for his Masters from Carnegie Mellon University. He’d ended up being a serial entrepreneur, first founding UroTec Systems Corp in 1981, and then had founded Mastech Digital, which had made it to BusinessWeek’s Hot 100 Growth List in the 1990s. IGATE had started off as a subsidiary of Mastech Digital, but rapidly grew its IT services business. By the 2000s, IGATE had expanded to 34 countries across North America, Europe and Asia. Under Wadhwani’s leadership, IGATE recorded revenues of $1.2 billion, and had 34,000 employees. IGATE was acquired by Capgemini in 2015 for $4 billion, which is one of the largest deals in India’s IT services sector.

Wadhwani has now used his considerable personal fortune to help out his alma mater, joining a growing list of Indian businesspeople who’ve donated substantial sums to their colleges. Mindtree founders Subroto Bagchi and NS Parthasarathy have donated Rs. 425 crore to IISc Bangalore, while Nandan Nilekani has donated Rs. 400 crore to his alma mater, IIT Bombay. Meanwhile, Indigo’s Rakesh Gangwal has donated Rs. 100 crore to IIT Kanpur, Happiest Minds’ Ashok Soota has donated Rs. 20 crore to IIT Roorkee, and Reckitt Beckinser’s Rakesh Kapoor has donated Rs. 10 crore to BITS Pilani.

And it’s involvement from alumni like this that’ll propel India’s colleges to truly world-class status. India has plenty of top institutes that produce thousands of very capable graduates, but none of the them are ranked in the top 50 globally. It’s perhaps through initiatives like these that these institutes can spend money on original research and development, which will enable them to compete with the best in the world.