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The Sikh Foundation

June 2002

Dr. Narinder Singh Kapany

Dr. Narinder Singh Kapany is widely acknowledged as the father of fiber-optics, the technology behind devices from endoscopy to high-capacity telephone lines that has changed the medical, communications and business worlds. He was named one of seven ‘Unsung Heroes’ by Fortune magazine in their ‘Businessmen of the Century’ issue (Nov. 22, 1999).

Born in India and educated in England, Dr. Narinder Singh Kapany has lived in the United States for forty-five years. A graduate of Agra University in India, he completed advanced studies in optics at the Imperial College of Science and Technology, London, and received his Ph.D. from the University of London in 1955.

His career has spanned science, entrepreneurship and management, academia, publishing, and farming. His personal interests include philanthropy, art collecting, and sculpting.

As a scientist, Dr. Kapany’s research and inventions have encompassed fiber-optics communications, lasers, biomedical instrumentation, solar energy and pollution monitoring. He has over one hundred patents, and was a member of the National Inventors Council. He has received many awards including ‘The Excellence 2000 Award’ from the USA Pan-Asian American Chamber of Commerce in 1998. He is a Fellow of numerous scientific societies including the British Royal Academy of Engineering, the Optical Society of America, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

As an entrepreneur and business executive, Dr. Kapany has specialized in the processes of innovation and the management of technology and technology transfer. In 1960, he founded Optics Technology Inc. and was Chairman of the Board, President, and Director of Research for twelve years. In 1967 the company went public with numerous corporate acquisitions and joint ventures in the United States and abroad. In 1973, Dr. Kapany founded Kaptron Inc. and was President and CEO until 1990 when he sold the company to AMP Incorporated. For the next nine years, Dr. Kapany was an AMP Fellow, heading the Entrepreneur & Technical Expert Program and serving as Chief Technologist for Global Communications Business. He three years founded K2 Optronics. Dr. Kapany has also served on the boards of various companies. He was a member of the Young Presidents Organization and remains a member of the World Presidents Organization.

As an academician, Dr. Kapany has taught and supervised research activity of postgraduate students. He was a Regents Professor at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB), and at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC). He was also Director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Development (CIED) at UCSC for seven years. At Stanford University, he has been a Visiting Scholar in the Physics Department and Consulting Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering.

As an author and lecturer, Dr. Kapany has published over 100 scientific papers and four books on opto-electronics and entrepreneurship. He has lectured to various national and international scientific societies.
As a philanthropist, Dr. Kapany has been very active in the academia and the arts. In 1999, he endowed a Chair of Opto-Electronics at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is also trustee of the University of California, Santa Cruz Foundation. He has served as a trustee of the Menlo School in Menlo Park, California.
He is the founder and chairman of the Sikh Foundation, a non-profit organization founded in 1967 having its officers in Palo Alto, California. In collaboration with international institutions and publishers, the Foundation runs programs in publishing high quality books on Sikhism, endowing permanent Sikh Studies Chairs and Fellowships in leading universities in North America and establishing long-term and permanent Sikh art exhibits. In 1998, Dr. Kapany endowed a Chair of Sikh Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara in the memory of his beloved mother – The Kundan Kaur Kapany Chair in Sikh Studies.
In the arts, he was the prime mover and provided a major loan of paintings for the internationally acclaimed ‘Arts of the Sikh Kingdoms’ exhibition. The exhibition started in March 1999 at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, proceeded to the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco with the Sikh Foundation as its major sponsor, and opened in May 2000 for four months at the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada. The exhibition followed ‘Splendors of the Punjab: Sikh Art and Literature in 1992’ organized by Dr. Kapany in collaboration with the Asian Art Museum and UC Berkeley to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Sikh Foundation.
His gift in 1999 of $500,000 to the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco has helped them establish the first-ever permanent Sikh Arts gallery in North America. This gallery has been named in the honor of Dr. Kapany’s wife – The Satinder Kaur Kapany Gallery of Sikh Arts. Over 100 historical and rare Sikh artworks and objects have been donated by Dr. Kapany from his personal Sikh Arts collection that are now exhibited in this permanent Sikh Arts Gallery. He is also donating a similar number of historical and rare Sikh artworks to the Sikh Heritage Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. scheduled to open on the 24th of July, 2004. Under the leadership of Dr. Kapany, the Sikh Foundation has and continues to undertake many pioneering and most needed projects for the Sikh community worldwide including broadening the Sikh Studies Chairs program by endowing three more permanent Sikh Studies Chairs in the University of California Campus (Riverside, Irvine and Berkeley). In order to truly broaden the Sikh Studies program, Dr. Kapany is also currently negotiating a Sikh Studies Chair with the San Jose State University. Additionally The Sikh Foundation has been sponsoring Punjabi Language Studies program at Stanford University and U.C. Berkeley. Finally in academia and education, currently business plans and project reports are being drawn at The Sikh Foundation to start a world class quality Sikh High School that will aim to produce the Sikh leaders for tomorrow. This project is currently on the drawing board. In the Arts, plans are underway at The Sikh Foundation to inaugurate the Sikh Heritage Gallery in July, 2004 at the Smithsonian Institution. Additionally Dr. Kapany is trying to negotiate an agreement with the Victoria & Albert Museum, London to endow a permanent annual lecture series on Sikh Arts. The Sikh Foundation also hopes to embark upon a long-term and consistent public relations program to counter the current problem of mistaken identity of the Sikhs in America sometime in the near future. This has led to several hatecrimes on Sikh Americans following the tragic events of September 11th
Lastly The Sikh Foundation recently partnered with a group of Sikhs in Toronto, Canada to organize the first-ever Sikh Film Festival.
As an artist, Dr. Kapany has created 40 "dynoptic" sculptures, which were first, displayed in a one-man show at the Exploratorium of the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco in 1972. Since then, the collection has been viewed at museums and art galleries in Chicago, Monterey, Palo Alto, and Stanford.

Dr. Kapany lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, Satinder. His son, Rajinder, is a hi-tech executive; and his daughter, Kiran, is an attorney and a film maker.