April 2015 | Cynthia Rodrigues

A pioneer all the way through

FC Kohli on the company where he made his mark as an information technology whiz, at a time when government permission was needed to get computers installed

I was with Tata Electric Companies (as Tata Power was known) for 18 years before I shifted to Tata Consultancy Services. We were the company that never shut down power to Mumbai.

Computers came to India in 1952 and I was very interested in this technology. In 1964 the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research [TIFR] installed a large CDC machine [the computer systems of old manufactured by Control Data Corporation]. I was working with Tata Power at the time and we wanted to put some of our operations on the computer: inventory control, purchases and some employee data. We had to punch cards and take them to TIFR. So, in a sense, it can be said that we started computerising Tata Electric in 1964.

In 1968 we asked the government to let us computerise the running of the Tata Electric systems. A few months later they allowed us to install online computers that worked in real-time mode. This was the first load dispatch centre in India. The system took instantaneous feedback. There was real-time communication with Khopoli and Trombay.

We were just the third or fourth country in the world to have this technology and we were ahead of many countries, including Britain and Japan. It was one of Tata Electric’s many pioneering moves.

FC Kohli, who went on to head Tata Consultancy Services, was with Tata Electric Companies from 1951 to 1969 in different capacities. He was on the Tata Power board from 1990 to 2000.

Know more about Tata Power's fascinating journey:
Overview: 100 years of high-wattage performance
A century ago, Tata Power ran a single hydroelectric project in India. Today it has grown to a $5.6-billion global enterprise, with coal mines in Indonesia, wind farms in South Africa, energy projects in Turkey and Zambia and technology partnerships in Australia. It is India's largest integrated private power producer, spanning power generation, transmission, distribution and trading
'We will continue to bring new technologies to India'
The path that Tata Power has chosen for itself is global and clean, as the company’s chief executive, Anil  Sardana, explains in this interview
'The consumer will reign'
Tata Power’s chief operating officer, Ashok Sethi, who has clocked 39 years with the company, shares his views on the organisation’s evolution
'We have to slog our assets'
There are challenges as well as opportunities on the path that Tata Power has chosen to take, says chief financial officer Ramesh Subramanyam
'A climate of respect is vital'
Chief culture officer and head of business excellence and transformation, Vivek Talwar, on what makes Tata Power a sustainable organisation
'People policies are linked to the company's strategy'
Employee engagement is critical to improve staff morale and the sense of belonging in the company, says human resources head Chetan Tolia
The going is green
A presence across hydro, wind, solar and geothermal makes it easier for Tata Power to target a cleaner energy portfolio
Chain of excellence
From renewable power to consumer friendliness, Tata Power’s associate entities have set the standard for the industry
For country and community, in the spirit of giving back
The corporate social responsibility initiatives of Tata Power have made a tremendous difference, in a wide variety of ways, to the lives of the countless people they have touched
'We were getting marginalised'
Tata Power had to think beyond Mumbai to stay relevant in a rapidly changing industry, and that’s what it did, writes Prasad Menon
From dependable to adaptable
Tata Power has grown spectacularly in scale and spread thanks to its ability to reinvent itself, says Adi Engineer
When 'farmers' became 'hunters'
Where once reliability and continuity were prized, Tata Power has moved on to find its balance and to flourish in a business arena rendered volatile, writes Firdose Vandrevala
'It was easier to run back then'
KM Gherda remembers the days of Tata Electric Companies, of ‘reasonable returns’ and a business where the big complexity was accounting for three rather than one