France in a rare honour has bestowed IT czar and philanthropist Azim Premji with the highest French civilian distinction Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur (Knight of the Legion of Honour). He now joins the elite list of other Indians who had got the honour. They include the likes of – renowned scientist and Bharat Ratna awardee C N R Rao, Tamil actor late Sivaji Ganesan, actor Kamal Haasan, Bengali actor Soumitra Chatterjee and Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan.
The Legion d’Honneur (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 award was bestowed on Azim Premji for his outstanding contribution to developing the information technology industry in India, his economic outreach in France, and his laudable contribution to society as a philanthropist through the Azim Premji Foundation and Azim Premji University,” Ziegler said.
In his acceptance speech, Premji said, “I am extremely honored by the award bestowed on me. The vibrancy of the French democracy and its diversity is an inspiration to all across the world.”
Premji, who is the chairman of Bengaluru-headquartered IT major Wipro, received the distinction from the Ambassador of France to India Alexandre Ziegler here, Wipro said.
The President of the French Republic is the Grand Master of the Order of the Legion of Honour.
Wipro said its association with France spans over 15 years and the company enjoys a close relationship with several French organisations.
Nearly 65 per cent of Wipro’s employees in France are locals.
France is a key market for Wipro and the company is committed to continued investments there, it added.
Premji’s wife Yasmeen Premji and son Rishad Premji and Francois Gautier, Consul General of France, were present on the occasion.