Visionary technocrat, industry mentor and institution builder K P P Nambiar, 86, died in Bangalore on Tuesday evening. He has been indisposed for quite some time.
Nambiar, a native of Kannur in Kerala, had been credited with establishing India’s first state run electronics venture Keltron and Inda’s first IT park Technopark, both in his home state. Nambiar, who had served as Secretary, Department of Electronics when Rajiv Gandhi was the prime minister, had been the force behind establishing C-DAC, STPI, CEDTI and VLSI laboratories under the Department of Electronics. As the secretary at the Department of Electronics, Nambiar had given a new perspective and direction for country’s research and development in the area of electronics.
Born and brought up at Kalliassery in Kannur, Nambiar had his higher studies in Mumbai and London. He had his masters in electronics and communication from Imperial College of Science and Technology, University of London. His area of research was semi-conductor technology. After a stint with Texas Instruments USA, Nambiar returned to India in 1963 to join as projects manager with Philips India. After a stint at IIT, Delhi as a faculty, Nambiar joined Tata Group. A key force behind taking Tata to electronics and communications, Nambiar founded the Industrial Electronics Research and Development Labs under Tata Power Company.
In 1973, Nambiar returned to his home state to establish India’s first state government run electronics enterprise, Keltron. The Keltro success story was later replicated elsewhere in the country even as the Kerala venture grew to a major player in electronics and household name in electronic goods. He also took the initiative to establish the research and development centre of Keltron, which was later taken over by Department of Electronics.
In a bid to take electronics revolution to villages, he formed women co-operatives to manufacture consumer durables under the brand of Keltron. As many as 50 such groups were established in Kerala.
In early 80, Nambiar left Keltron after mentoring it for a decade. Then he joined as the Managing Director of the Indian Telephone Industries, Bangalore. It was while serving as ITI MD that Nambiar moved to the Department of Electronics as its secretary. He served in that post until his retirement in 1989.
Post-retirement, Nambiar returned to Kerala, where then state chief Minister E K Nayanar invited him to prepare the project for Technopark, which is now the single largest IT park in the country. Nambiar had hailed from Kalliassery, the native of village of Nayanar. Nambiar was the first chairman of Techno-park in Thiruvananthapuram. Later, he became the chairman of governing body of IIM-Kozhikode.
When the CPI (M) was in power from 1996 to 2001, Nambiar mooted a power project for North Kerala, Kannur Power Project. But, the project did not take off. He had running feud with V S Achuthanandan, who had been then the LDF convener. The CPI (M) was against the project over Nambiar’s proposed tie-up with Enron. He later established a telecom venture Namtech in Bangalore.
In 2006, the country had honoured him by conferring Padmabhushan. Even after he suffered a stroke that confined him to a wheel chair, Nambiar had been active until recent years.