‘Father of Fiber Optics’ Kapany been awarded with Padma Vibhushan


On Monday, 25 January, India honored the prominent Indian-American Narinder Singh Kapany with Padma Vibhushan, the second-highest award of the country. Known as the ‘father of fiber optics’, he coined the term fiber optics.

Calling him a “pioneering Indian-American Scientist popularly known as the Father of Fiber Optics”, official Indian government release announcing the honor said he “laid the foundation for today’s high-speed internet technology.”

He was born on October 31, 1926 in Moga of Punjab, died recently on December 4 at California in the US. He was 94.

After completing his graduation in India from Agra University and pursuing advanced studies in optics from London, he had migrated to the US.

This award was honored to him posthumously.

On receiving the award, his daughter Kiran said, “On behalf of my children, Ari and Misha, and my brother Raj Kapany and his children, Tara and Nikki and myself, I would like to thank the Government of India for bestowing the Padma Vibhushan award on our dear father.”

Adding, “We are truly humbled and grateful by all the warm wishes and condolences we are receiving from all over the world honoring and remembering our dear father. We have been overwhelmed by this tremendous outpouring of emotion.”

On his work on Fiber Optics, she said, “We realize how deeply he touched so many lives and how he laid the groundwork for so many to know that they could also reach for the stars. We thank you with all our hearts.”

Kapany has also been honored in the past with Pravasi Bharatiya Samman by the Indian government.

With more than 100 patents throughout his career, his research works lasers, fiber optics, solar energy etc, Kapany was a distinguished Indian-American Sikh scientist who also had great interest in Sikh art and philanthropy activities.

He became a member of the US National Inventors’ Council and also founded a company Optics Technology Corporation where he led research projects in fiber optics for over 12 years. Later he also supervised research works at universities such as the University of California and Stanford University.

He was the author of more than 100 scientific research papers and four books.

To continue with his passion for promoting and preserving Sikh art, education, and other philanthropic activities, Kapany had started the Sikh Foundation and funded the preservation of several prized Sikh artworks.

He also started the Chair of Sikh Studies at the University of California in memory of his late mother.