France confers highest civilian award on Azim Premji

Bengaluru: French Ambassador to India Alexandre Ziegler on Wednesday honoured global software major Wipro Chairman Azim Premji with the highest French civilian award Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur (Knight of the Legion of Honour) here, in recognition of his contribution to the Indian IT industry and philanthropy.

“The award has been bestowed on Premji for his contribution to developing the Information Technology (IT) industry in India, his economic outreach in France and his contribution to society as a philanthropist through the Azim Premji Foundation and Azim Premji University,” Ziegler said here.

The Legion of Honour, instituted in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte, is the highest civilian award given by the French Republic for outstanding service to France, regardless of the nationality of the recipients.

The President of France is the Grand Master of the Order of the Legion of Honour.

“I am honoured by the award bestowed on me. The vibrancy of the French democracy and its diversity is an inspiration to all across the world,” said Premji on the occasion.

The 73-year-old Bengaluru-based Premji is a billionaire with $15.6 billion net worth and gave the fifth-highest amount ($8 billion) to charity.

Wipro’s association with France spans over 15 years, with several French firms and organisations as its clients. Around 65 per cent of the company’s employees in France are locals.

As France is a key market for Wipro, the company is committed to continued investments there.

In a related development, Ziegler also met representatives of 30 French innovative firms in the city.

The firms include early stage and large technology firms specialising and developing digital solutions in artificial intelligence, big data, cyber security, cloud computing, connected devices, machine learning and super-computing.

Large French digital firms have a footprint in India, employing over 1,30,000 people at their research and development (R&D) centres and facilities.

“Ziegler’s two-day visit to India’s tech hub will foster the partnership between the two countries in IT and innovation,” said the statement.

The French envoy, who is on a two-day visit to the city, will attend the “Bengaluru Tech Summit” on Thursday and attend a leadership meeting in the campus of software major Infosys in the city’s southern outskirts.

In June, Infosys opened a digital centre of excellence at Marseille, expanding its footprint in France.