Sikh Art & Film Foundation


Dr. Narinder S. Kapany - Father of Fiber Optics & Philanthropist

Born in India and educated in England, Dr Narinder Singh Kapany has lived in the United States for fifty-two 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 PhD from the University of London in 1955.

His career has spanned science, entrepreneurship and management, academia, publishing, lecturing, and farming. His personal interests include philanthropy, art collecting, and sculpting. As a scientist, Dr Kapany is widely acknowledged as ‘the father of fibre-optics’, which has changed the world in multifarious ways. His research and inventions have encompassed fibre-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 specialised 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 Intrapreneur & Technical Expert Programme and serving as chief technologist for Global Communications Business. He recently founded K2 Optronics. He has also served on the boards of various companies. He was a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization and is presently a member of the World Presidents’ Organization.

As an academic, Dr Kapany has taught and supervised the research activity of postgraduate students. He was a Regents Professor at the University of California, Berkeley and at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC). He was also director of the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Development 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 one hundred 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 active in education and the arts. He has been the founding chairman and major funder of the Sikh Foundation and its activities for over thirty years. In collaboration with international institutions and publishers, the Foundation runs programmes in publishing, academia, and the arts. In 1998, Dr Kapany endowed a chair of Sikh Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His gift in 1999 of $500,000 plus one hundred Sikh art objects to the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco established a gallery in its building displaying the works he has donated from his collection of Sikh art. In 1999, he endowed a chair of Opto-Electronics at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He has also served as a trustee of Menlo School in Menlo Park, California.

As an art collector, Dr Kapany has specialised in Sikh art. 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 follows Splendours of the Punjab: Sikh Art and Literature, organised by Dr Kapany in 1992 in collaboration with the Asian Art Museum and UC Berkeley to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Sikh Foundation. He assisted in a long-term Sikh arts exhibition set up in 2004 at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and a Sikh arts exhibition called I See No Stranger: Early Sikh Art and Devotion at the Rubin Museum of art in New York, which ran from September 2006 through January 2007.

As an artist, Dr Kapany has created forty ‘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 Bay Area with his wife, Satinder. His son, Rajinder, is a hi-tech executive, and his daughter, Kiren, is an attorney and filmmaker.


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Sabrina Dhawan