As the founder of JV Electronics, Om Wadhwa spearheaded India’s electronics export drive at a time when the country’s electronics industry had just begun to take shape. His vision and leadership turned the company into a top exporter of electronic components to the US and Europe.
The year 2018 ended on a sad note for the Indian electronics industry, as the news spread about the passing of Om Wadhwa, chairman and managing director, JV Electronics, and a highly revered veteran of the industry. He passed away on the morning of December 29, 2018 at his residence. The late Om Wadhwa (1938-2018) was a visionary and a trailblazer in the field of India’s electronic components exports – and this was at a time when the nation’s electronics industry had just begun to take shape. His leadership and efforts made JV Electronics one of the top exporters of electronic components to the US and Europe.
A successful entrepreneur and a philanthropist, Om Wadhwa once told the Electronics Bazaar team that his journey of life had been one of pure luck, for he strongly believed that whatever he had achieved was because of meeting the right people and doing the right things at the right time.
A defining career
Born in 1938 in Malakwal village, in pre-Partition Punjab and what is today Pakistan, Om Wadhwa’s life was full of surprises and dramatic upheavals. From being the son of a rich zamindar in undivided Punjab, he was reduced to being a refugee in India, post-Partition. He did his education from Delhi and began his professional career at Mercury Travels at the age of 16, earning Rs 150 per month, which helped him support his education. In 1961, his life took a turn for the better when he met an American couple who offered to pay for his higher education in the US, as they were on the lookout for young and deserving people from around the world whom they provided scholarships to. Thus began his American Dream, in the course of which he was exposed to an international culture.
In 1971, he started his professional career with Associated Commodity Corporation (ACC). In 1974, ACC worked out a partnership with Sangmo Electronics Inc., a subsidiary of the US multinational firm, Schlumberger, which wanted finished goods like mica capacitors from India. To meet this demand, Om Wadhwa started his own company called JV Electronics in Faridabad in Haryana, in which he owned a 60 per cent stake and the American company owned the remaining 40 per cent. Becoming the managing director of JV Electronics at the age of 36, he helped his company get the first President’s Award for electronics exports. At a time when nobody actually knew what electronics exports were all about, his company became the first 100 per cent export-oriented firm, and then went on to expand its business operations from the US to Europe, and then to Japan and other countries.
Throughout his professional career, Om Wadhwa partnered closely with a large list of reputed brands, including the likes of Sony and Samsung, empowering manufacturing and production of electronics from within the country. After building a reputation in the US and Europe, he concentrated on expanding JV Electronics in a big way. He also kept on introducing new products like LED lamps and EMI filters into JV Electronics’ product range, in addition to the initial mica capacitors business. In 2018, the industry once again recognised Om Wadhwa’s tireless work and immense contributions to the Indian electronics ecosystem, awarding him the prestigious Special Jury Award for his Lifelong Service to the Electronics Industry at the ELCINA-EFY Awards 2017-18.
A close bond with the industry
With the firm belief that he had achieved all that he’d wanted to in his professional life, Om Wadhwa had been devoting his time to social work for the past few years. Although he had moved on from running his business, he still nurtured strong ties with the electronics industry. Through ELCINA, he worked for the cause of the industry. He was the president of ELCINA from 1980-82, 1986-87 and 1991-92 and also served as a mentor to many.
We, at EFY, are deeply saddened by the loss of a noble and positive soul like Om Wadhwa. “He was a great friend besides being the backbone of ELCINA. I will miss him greatly. The news has come as a shock to me,” said Ramesh Chopra, executive chairman and founder, EFY Group. We pray his soul rests in peace.
In remembrance of the late Om Wadhwa, a few ELCINA members share their regard and fond memories of him.
“Om Wadhwa’ s selfless public spiritedness is an inspiration for all of us. His contribution to ELCINA, especially during the early years, laid the foundation for an ideal industry association — one which has seen five decades of ‘no elections’, where consensus amongst members is still the key mantra.” – Vinod Sharma, managing director, Deki Electronics
“Om Wadhwa was the driving and cementing force for the entire electronics industry and especially so for ELCINA. I have been lucky to have worked very closely with him since the early eighties. He is the one who helped me become the youngest president of ELCINA in 1988-89. He was a very positive and forward-looking person, always keeping the interests of the industry above self. He has built ELCINA to what it is today by constantly identifying new talent, grooming it and then handing over the reins to emerging leaders. He was a dynamo who was always on the go. May God give him the very special place he richly deserves. He will be greatly missed by all of us as a friend and as an able guide.” – Sanjiv Narayan, CEO and managing director, SGS Tekniks Manufacturing Pvt Ltd
“Om Wadhwa was one of the pioneers of the electronic components industry and a true leader. His presence will be missed by the industry and by those in ELCINA. He was also a philanthropist, a side of his that very few were aware of. We will miss our guide and advisor.” – Pankaj Gulati, executive vice president and COO, Continental Device India Pvt Ltd
“Om Wadhwa, a legend within the electronics industry, has been the central pillar and torch-bearer of ELCINA. He was the guiding force behind the values ELCINA is known for and he stood by them till his last breath. A father figure to many, he was the face of ELCINA and it was through his initiative that ELCINA House became a reality. We will always remember him with love and gratitude.” – Subhash Goyal, director, Digital Circuits Pvt Ltd
“Om ji was a karmayogi! He worked very hard for the betterment of the electronics industry. I could learn a lot from him and his vision. I always looked forward to seeing him at ELCINA meetings. He will be greatly missed.” – Sanjay Agarwal, managing director, Globe Capacitors Ltd
“Om Wadhwa was a legend in the electronics industry. This has been a huge loss for the industry, right before the beginning of the new year. He was an integral part of the electronics association and young entrepreneurs like us always looked up to him as a mentor. I remember interacting with him about all the good things he was doing to help the poor and the underprivileged. In many aspects, he was truly a great stalwart and we will miss him.” – Vijay Gujarathi, COO and director, EOS Power India Ltd
“Shri Om Wadhwa is one of the founding fathers of ELCINA. He nurtured ELCINA during its formative and growth phases, transforming it into the sole voice of the electronics industry in India. He had eye for talent and also interacted affectionately with every member. He has brought the Indian electronics industry into the limelight through excellent PR and lobbying with the DoE and MeitY. I personally have fond memories of this fine gentleman during my presidency of ELCINA, and even subsequently – right up till the last AGM. Om Wadhwa is indeed the Electronics Man of the last five decades.” – Vijay Kumar Gupta K., CEO, Kwality Photonics Pvt Ltd
“Om Wadhwa was a gem of a person who always tried to unite all the members of the association.” – Kumud Tyagi, vice president, Bergen Associates Pvt Ltd
“I am truly shocked and saddened by the passing away of Om Wadhwa ji. He was truly a doyen of the electronics industry who treaded unchartered territories and established a business which was much ahead of the times. During my close association with him over the last decade, I found him ever willing to engage with and help industry colleagues. He was committed to the cause of establishing ELCINA as a fair and independent pillar of support for the electronics manufacturing industry and continued to do so till his last days. We have all lost a true friend and guide.” – Amrit Manwani, president, ELCINA and chairman, Sahasra Group
“ELCINA was blessed to have by its side a well-wisher and mentor such as Om Wadhwa. Espousing the values of transparency, fairness and impartiality, he was instrumental in establishing the values of the association which have stood the test of time. These values have kept the industry body free of controversies, maintaining a smooth succession process and have earned the respect of all industry stakeholders, including the government. I personally learned a lot from him, and will always remember him with respect as a true friend and guide of the industry.” – Rajoo Goel, secretary general, ELCINA