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Pitroda is PM's advisor on innovation

Last updated on: October 07, 2009 16:00 IST

Sam Pitroda IT czar Satyanarayan Gangarm Pitroda aka Sam Pitroda has been appointed advisor to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on infrastructure, innovation and information.

Pitroda, 60, who was appointed to the new post on Tuesday, will have the rank of a Cabinet minister.

Pitroda, who is also the chairman of National Knowledge Commission, will advise Singh on integrating information communication technology in the sectors of infrastructure, health, justice and information.

"I was appointed yesterday. We look at organising integration of national knowledge network and broadband connectivity for better service delivery to the citizens," Pitroda told PTI.

He said he would work for the promotion of ICT in all social sectors and in infrastructure.

"We will develop an action plan for the next decade which will be a decade for innovation and infrastructure," he said.

Pitroda's appointment is the second high-profile appointment made by the prime minister after roping in former Infosys co-chairman Nandan Nilekani to head the Unique Identification Authority of India.

Not many of us know that Pitroda, architect of telecom revolution in India, first used a telephone only after moving to the US.

By emphasising on accessibility rather than density, Pitroda succeded in introducing telephone to some of the remotest corners of India.

Pitroda is not only a technocrat but a visionary as well and has made strong case for food, clean water, and adequate shelter for the unprivileged section of the society. Pitroda is the chairman and CEO of World-Tel Limited, an International Telecom Union.

He is also the chairman of National Knowledge Commission, chairman and founder of Sevend high-technology, founding chairman of a non-profit Foundation for Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions in India. Pitroda holds over 50 patents.

As head of the NKC, Pitroda had submitted a series of reports for reforms in higher education, elementary education, health, agriculture, traditional medicine and ICT.

Government is considering most of his recommendations.

As recommended by NKC, the government has also started an innovative project, a National Knowledge Network, for giving broadband connectivity to about 100 science laboratories and research institutions.

Pitroda was awarded the Padma Bhushan this year for his contribution to Science and Engineering. He is also a recipient of the Rajiv Gandhi 'Global Indian' award.

Born in Titlagarh, Orissa, Pitroda did his schooling at Anand Vallabh Vidyalaya in Gujarat and Masters in physics and electronics in Baroda.

In 1964, he went to the US and did his Masters in electrical engineering in Chicago. Thereafter, he worked at GTE and formed Wescom Switching, Inc.

In 1984, Pitroda was invited to return to India by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. On his return, he started the Center for Development of Telematics (C-DOT), an autonomous telecom R&D organisation.

In 1987, he became advisor to Gandhi's successor, Rajiv Gandhi.

Pitroda lives in Chicago, Illinois, with his wife Anu, son Salil and daughter Rajal.

Image: Sam Pitroda