Sam Pitroda biography, family, wife, career, and controversy.

Satyanarayan Gangaram Pitroda,  also known as Sam Pitroda, is a telecommunication engineer and entrepreneur.

Sam Pitroda
Sam Pitroda

Who is Sam Pitroda

Satyanarayan Gangaram Pitroda, better known as Sam Pitroda, is an Indian entrepreneur and telecommunication engineer. Born into a Gujarati family, he inherited a business mindset. Pitroda was also the chairman of the Indian Overseas Congress, but he resigned from the position after making a racist remark recently.

Sam Pitroda Family

Sam Pitroda, born to Gujarati parents in Titlagarh, Odisha, was the third child among seven siblings. His family, deeply rooted in the Gandhian principles of simplicity and hard work, belonged to a lineage of carpenters and blacksmiths.

Sam’s family had been carpenters and blacksmiths for generations. They lived simply and believed in living a life of honesty and hard work. When Sam was six years old, he saw his mother cry when she heard the news of Gandhi’s death. This showed how much they admired Gandhi and his teachings.

Grandfather: Kalyanji Pitroda

Kalyanji Pitroda grandfather of Sam Pitroda was a farmer who also worked as a blacksmith.

Father: Gangaram Pitroda

Gangaram Pitroda was born in January 1916. In his childhood, he used to entertain his children with interesting stories. One such story was about his journey with Sam Pitroda’s mother from Gujrat to Odisha when they were young. They travel by train and camel, facing many adventures along the way.

He also told them how they made a living after settling in Titlagarh. Despite their challenges, Gangaram worked hard as a carpenter to provide for his family. His stories entertained his children and taught them valuable lessons about perseverance and resilience.

When Sam Pitroda was a child, his father’s salary was 20 rupees per month, making it difficult to meet the family’s needs with so many children. His father started a business making nails for the railways to fulfill these needs. To support this venture, his mother, Shanta mortgaged her gifted jewellery. His father then began making nails and sold them to the British.

Mother: Shanta

Shanta was born in June 1918 near the village of Tikar. She had one older brother, Yashesh, who lived in Baroda, Gujrat. Shanta studied there with her brother.

Wife: Anju Chhhaya

Sam Pitroda married Anju Chhaya on December 26, 1966. They had a love marriage, which initially faced disapproval from Anju’s parents due to caste barriers. The story of their marriage, considered exotic in India, was even featured in Chicago News. Anju gave birth to their first child, a son named Salil, in 1975, and their daughter Rajal was born in 1978.

Read about Radhika Merchant


Manjula(Sister)Married to a businessman in Raipur, Madhya Pradesh
Manek(brother)He has a daughter Hina.
SatyamHimself Sam Pitroda
Pravin(Brother) He also called Pinu, Studied biotechnology.
Jashu(Brother) He also called Pinu, Studied biotechnology
Indira(Sister)Her husband’s name is Girish Makwana


Early Education                 

Attended school in Titilagarh, Odisha, until age eight.

Secondary Education

Sent to Vallabh Vidyanagar’s Sharda Mandir boarding school in Gujrat with his brother Manek.

Higher Secondary Education

After tenth grade, joined M.S. University’s Kalabhavan Technical School in Vadodara.

University Education

Earned a Master’s degree in Physics and Electronics from Maharaja Sayajirao University in Vadodara.

 He also actively participated in extracurricular activities during college

Graduate studies in the United States:

Moved to the United States in 1964 on a scholarship for higher education

Obtained a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.

Sam Pitroda’s Journey of Names

  • An acquaintance who had admitted Satyan to school in the 1950s had mistakenly given his surname as “Suthar.” Upon finishing school and joining college, Satyan corrected this error by changing his surname back to “ Pitroda.”
  • Later, when Satyanarayan secured his first job at the Chicago-based company Oak Electric, a lady handling the payroll found the name “Satyanarayan” complicated and thus changed it to” Sam.” This change marked yet another instance in Satyan’s life where his name underwent an unintended transformation from Satyanarayan Pitroda to Sam Pitroda.


Sam Pitroda began his Career at Oak Electric, a local electrical company in Chicago. He then worked at GTE (General Telephone and Electronics) in Chicago for about ten years. During his tenure at GTE, he specialized in designing and developing computer control and digital switching systems. Pitroda became a senior scientist and innovator in digital electronic switching systems, receiving approximately 40 patents related to these technologies.

Sam Pitroda shifted to Wescom Switching Inc., where he headed a project to produce the 580 DSS switch and held 10% shares of the company. In 1975, he invented the Electronic Diary and developed the 580 DSS switch. Following the acquisition of Wescom by Rockwell International, Pitroda became Vice President of Rockwell International.

In 1981 H.C. Sarin, a former civil servant suggested him to came Delhi and meet Mrs Indira Gandhi for telecom modernization. In 1981 when he was 38 he landed in Delhi to meet Mrs Indira Gandhi but the meeting got canceled many times because of heavy rain and other unclear reasons.  So he returns to Chicago. In 1984 he returned to India and started the Centre for Development of Telematics C-Dot, an autonomous telecom R & D organization.

Sam Pitroda became the founding chairman of India’s Telecom Commission, which was established in 1987. When Rajiv Gandhi became the Prime Minister after Indira Gandhi’s assassination, Pitroda became his advisor. During the 1980s, he headed six technology missions focused on telecommunications, water, literacy, immunization, dairy, and oilseeds. Pitroda played a pivotal role in transforming India’s telecommunications sector, with a mission to connect everyone. His goal was to enable widespread internet connectivity across India in the 1980s.

In the 1990s, Sam Pitroda went back to Chicago to focus on his business ventures. In May 1995, he was appointed as the first chairman of the WorldTel initiative by the International Telecommunication Union.

After the United Progressive Alliance government took office following the 2004 Indian general election, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh invited Sam Pitroda to lead the National Knowledge Commission of India. In July 2009,  the government of India appointed him to lead an expert committee on ICT in Railways. By October 2009,  Pitroda was also appointed as an advisor to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Public  Information  Infrastructure and Innovations, with the rank of Cabinet Minister.

In 2004, Sam Pitroda returned to India for a second time, focusing on enhancing the Knowledge Institutions Commission, a prestigious advisory body to the Prime Minister of India. The commission was tasked with providing policy recommendations to improve various aspects of knowledge-related institutions and infrastructure across the country. The National Knowledge Commission submitted approximately 300 recommendations covering 27 key focus areas throughout its tenure.  

In 2010, Sam Pitroda founded the National Innovation Council and was appointed as the Advisor to the Prime Minister with the rank of cabinet minister for Public Information Infrastructure and Innovation. In August of the same year, he became the Chairman of the National  Innovation Council.

In 2017, he became Chairman of Alpha-En Corporation. He also founded and served as Chairman of C-SAM, with offices in multiple countries. Pitroda holds around 2,000 technology patents and has been involved in numerous start-ups.  He has also served as an advisor to the United Nations.

Sam Pitroda biography by Mayank Chhaya
Sam Pitroda biography by Mayank Chhaya

In 1992, his biography “ Sam Pitroda: A Biography” was published and became a bestseller on The Economic Times list for five weeks.


Sam Pitroda got into trouble because of something he said about how people look in different parts of India. He tried to explain that India is very diverse and each region has its own unique culture. But, some people felt offended by what he said. They thought he was being racist because he compared people from different regions to other races, like Africans and Arabs. Even though Pitroda said he didn’t mean to hurt anyone, his comment upset a lot of people. This incident showed how important it is to be careful with our words, especially when talking about race and where people come from.

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