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For any lesser mortal, an achievement of this magnitude and at that tender age would have him marked for more than a lifetime. The man responsible for bringing high-speed internet into our homes by inventing Fibre Optics Technology, Dr. Narinder Singh Kapany took it only as a first rung on ladder to innumerable achievements of gigantic significance to community development is no more amongst us.

S. Kapany was just 28 when his curious scientific instincts revolted to believe his matriculation professor’s seemingly innocuous assertion that light travels straight. He went on to prove otherwise on way to his world famous discovery of Fibre Optics in 1954, merely two years after he had touched down on UK shores in search of higher educational pursuits. Also, Dr. Charles K. Kao was awarded Nobel Prize in 2009 for his discovery of how light can be transmitted through fibre-optic cables.


More than 120 patents were under his belt, the Father of the Fibre had taken birth in Moga town of Punjab in October of 1926 and after completing Bachelor of Science Degree from University of Agra started working as an Indian Ordinance Factories Service Officer. His pioneer work has introduced path-breaking initiatives in the field of biomedical, laser, solar energy and pollution monitoring sectors.    

S. Kapany planned to return to India to commence his own business after finishing course at London Imperial College but as the destiny would have it, a fellowship from Royal Society of Engineering in 1954 fired up his precocious scientific temper further incentivizing him to stay in the foreign land and history beckoned. During his research, he presented various insightful articles demonstrating transmission of light and images through glass fibres. Avowed with his unmatched passion and talent, Professor Harold Hopkins nudged and almost convinced Kapany to research further and even persuaded University of London’s Senate to approve latter’s name for Ph.D.  program. S. Kapany’s research pursuits trooped him to USA where he finally ‘settled’ in California before joining Illinois Institute of Technology where he taught for some time.


S. Kapany, a born scientist but a self professed entrepreneur had other plans and his burning desire to lead his own venture into the field of independent corporate  research finally started to take shape in 1960. Being Chairman, President and Director of Research at newly founded Optics Technology, S. Kapany lent his heart into the project leading the company towards numerous corporate acquisitions and joint ventures in USA and other countries. In 1973, he founded Kaptron, a venture he presided over till 1990 before selling the stakes to Accelerated Memory Production (AMP) and heading its Entrepreneur & Technical Expert Program for the next nine years as an AMP fellow besides serving as the Chief Technologist for Global Communications Business. S. Kapany who also served on the boards of many companies including the Young Presidents Organisation and the World Presidents Organisation, had recently also set up his new firm K2 Optronics.

The publisher of over 100 scientific papers and four acclaimed books on optoelectronics, he wears many feathers in his already crowded cap. Besides being a world reputed scientist, successful entrepreneur and lecturer S. Kapany’s heart beats loudest for the welfare of his community and humanity at large. Endowed with a deep sense of gratitude towards his religion and its followers, he has been instrumental in inspiring, educating and engaging the world and disseminating knowledge about the principles of Sikh Religion. S. Kapany and his late wife Sdn. Satinder Kaur cherished their love for the motherland and collectively did their best to pay back in whatever way they could. The couple has a son and a daughter who are both settled abroad. Government of India (GOI) felicitated S.Kapany with the Parvasi Bhartiya Samman in 2004 in recognition of his stupendous contributions He was also conferred Excellence Award by USA Pan-Asian American Chamber of Commerce in year 2000.


In addition to heading Chair of Sikh Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, S. Kapany himself an efficient painter donated US$5,00,000 to Asian Art Museum of San Francisco to establish a gallery displaying his works from Sikh art he had donated. His works adorn the walls of San Francisco, Chicago, Monterey, Palo Alto, and Stanford. In addition to his service in science where he should have been granted Nobel Laureate, his work for the Sikh Community will always be remembered.  

About the author:
Prabhleen Singh

Prabhleen Singh Prabhleen Singh is an Administrative Officer in Punjabi University, Patiala. He’s a doctorate in management and has written two books on prominent Sikhs. He is also an office bearer of a number of non-government organizations. He heads Young Progressive Sikh Forum.

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