Ajit Shelat, 1 Sept 2010

(Pune based serial entrepreneur, Ajit Shelat, passed away yesterday. This article and photo are by flickr user drona and are taken from this page. They’re reproduced here under the terms of the Creative Commons (BY-NC) license under which that page is published.)

Ajit Shelat

My friend Ajit Shelat passed away today. He was driving on the Mumbai-Pune Highway, and had an accident at about 530pm September 1, 2010.

He was a fellow alumnus and contemporary of IIT-Mumbai.

Trained entirely in India, he was perhaps the first Indian engineer who designed and developed a very complex LAN security chipset at Nevis Networks, entirely based out of Pune, India.

He was a co-founder of RIMO technologies, Switch-on Networks(with Moti Jiandani), and Nevis Networks. Switch-On Networks was sold to PMC-Sierra for $300M+.

He supported a wide variety of environmental causes and an avid hiker and naturalist. A prolific entrepreneur himself, he generously gave his time and money to his favorite causes: The environment, education and entrepreneurs.

Said Yatin Mundkur, a venture capitalist at Artiman Ventures, who used to work for Ajit at Godrej Industries, in the mid-eighties: “I am who I am today, because of Ajit. And a lot of us who reported to him at Godrej would gladly say that.”

I will fondly remember the many hikes I took with him, and particularly the many discussions I had with him during the early X Window System days.

He is survived by his wife Radha Shelat and daughter Arundhati, and mother and sister.


(Ajit Shelat was most recently the President and CEO of Nevis Networks, a company that he was trying to turn around after he and his partners had acquired the assets of the company from the previous investors. PuneTech had interviewed Ajit just before this. He is survived by his wife, Radha Shelat, (VP Engineering, and India MD of Librato, previously CTO of Symantec Pune & Veritas Pune), and daughter.)

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30 thoughts on “Ajit Shelat, 1 Sept 2010

  1. I never met Ajit personally but always always heard great things about him from people. It’s very unfortunate day. Life is so unpredictable. My deepest sympathies for his family.

  2. He was my uncle. It was he who motivated me to join IITB for studies. I am proud of the fact that we share our family name.

  3. Was shocked to read about Ajit’s untimely demise. May his soul rest in peace & may the almighty give his family the courage & strength to overcome this untimely loss.

  4. Ajit and myself had only few interactions, but due to Nevis’s location in ITPark Pune, I used to get lot of news around. We had bumped into each other at ATM suddenly and never thought that would be the last in person exchange. I was infact thinking of discussing some HPC related startup idea with him, but seems like some other plans were in place. May his sould rest in peace, and I am sure IIT B communit, which is strong in Pune will help his family members for anything and everything.

  5. It was a two hour journey alongwith Ajit on a flight back to Pune. It was about a book I was reading and he overread the word Rawalpindi there and a mention of K2. He immediately asked what are you reading and there our discussion started around trekking, books, India, Pakistan, culture of small company vs big, his passions. Never ever, I realized that he is someone who has achieved so much in life because he was bit too humble to reflect any of those achievements on me. We exchanged business cards in the end and then I realized who he was and I was full of respect for this gentlemen. I invited him to my company (ThoughtWorks) to give a talk and he said any time but it would be something around technology and might bore people.
    Not a long association but he left an everlasting impression on my mind and heart.

    Don’t know but I am feeling lost.

  6. We were not only batch mates but also hostel mates too.A person of his calmness and his intelect can be rarely seen. I for one was in deep shock when I got this shocking news through our common friend Abhay Dandekar. I am emotionaly chocked to write further. I pray God for resting departed soul in piece and courage to his family to bear this irepairable loss.

  7. Ajit was my mentor at Godrej and the best mentor one could have. He was a great man. I have known him personally and been in touch since last 19 years. This news comes to me as a shock. May his soul rest in peace. God give strength to his family to bear this great loss.

  8. I had the privilidge of seeing Ajit Sir once when i was working in Radha mams company, this news really upsetted me today.

  9. “.. if you disagree, argue, fight, brain storm, convince; but don’t give up..”
    I have seen him live by those last three words, during the few years I spent at Nevis Networks working for him. His demise creates a vacuum in the industry.

    Just can’t believe he is no more.

  10. This sudden and untimely demise of “Ajit Shelat” on 1 st sept 2010 has left us deeply shocked. He was a great force to reckon with.
    He was a distinguished alumnus of IIT-Mumbai, and an IT-evangelist.I had the opportunity to work with him.
    We worked together in Delhi on many occasions.

    Rajeev s verma-Nevis Networks

  11. I have known Shelat way back since early 1980’s. He and his family (including his Mother) were a very close friend, not only to me, but also to my Mother, while we all worked together in Godrej, Vikhroli, Mumbai. His Wife and my Mother share the first name Radha.

    I was not much of a mountain climbing guy, but when we met later somtime in UK, he convinced me to climb a mediate hill in UK. That spirit still lives in me, which I am trying to pass on to my children.

    He was a great kind guy, and very resourceful.

  12. Ajit was a extraordinary person. My firm Blue Run were investors in his company Nevis and then i invested again in the company in its new avatar through Mumbai Angels. I am just devastated. we exchanged emails past 5 pm and i think he passed away just a few minutes later. I will always remember our telephone chats and his quick wit even in the most trying circumstances. His optimist and his fabulous kind smile. RIP my friend you were were class act.

  13. I got this sad news today morning from Daminiben and Sharadbhai.i never saw him but heard so many thing about him from his mother. we all are just shocked and the only prayer i can do is to give lots of spirit to all to bear the sad demise of Mr.Ajit shelat.

    My sister Amita,Pappu,and my parents Jayshree pandya and Ramesh pandya ,we are always there with the family.Bhanukaki , we all are praying for his soul.may his soul rest in peace.and god give a strength to bear this great loss to all of us.

  14. I was devastated on hearing this sad news yesterday evening. While working with VXL I had the privilege to interact with Mr.Ajit on Terminal Server technology. He was a networking guru who was able to guide his team fix any issues or bugs and come up with new developments within the project timeline specified. Highly intellect yet had a great heart to accept anyone. After sailing to great heights in career success he was humble and gentle in approach, that sets him apart from the rest. I was always moved by this approach of his. It is an irreplaceable loss to IT industry.
    I pray God give peace and comfort to the family at this hour.

  15. Out of the many fortunes my life has presented me with, Ajit Shelat has been like a precious jewel. I had the good fortune of being the part of the Godrej EBE team which had Ajit Shelat and many others such as RS Iyer, Ramesh Kamath, Shenoy, whos technical brilliance and strong personal character had blessed me with a positive imprint on my life. I shall continue to be guided by their passion for engineering excellence and their greatness as human beings. With respect to this particular incident, I am shocked beyond words.

  16. It is shocking to hear of this. I had been discussing with Ajit almost every other day over the last 2 months relating to partnership between Nevis and my new start-up. He was a very good strategic thinker and a very warm, wonderful person. I do feel very fortunate to have known him, albeit for a relatively short time.

  17. I had not met Ajit, but knew about his great track record as an entrepreneur as well as his support and keen interest in ecological causes. This is a significant loss for Pune. His legacy in both these fields will live on.

  18. Ajit Shelat Was my cousin.Highly talented and brilliant.We shared a lot in scientific views since we played together as children.Though I had a strong aptitude for biology, his Physics and engineering traits were a marvel when we made mechanical toys out of scrap in 1960s at Surat.His loss is grief unparalled to us from SHELAT family.

  19. Ajit and I only had a few interactions, nevertheless he left a lasting impression on me. I was particularly impressed with his intimate grasp of technology and the level of enthusiasm and zeal he brought to whatever he was doing. I knew there was a lot that I could learn from this man.

    We had been out of touch for some time but I was looking forward to re-connect with him soon. I saw in him a great mentor and guide, who I could look up to for advice.

    When I learnt of this unfortunate event, I was truly shocked and saddened. My heartfelt condolences go out to his family at this difficult hour.

  20. I haven’t had a chance to meet Ajit personally, but I always heard about Ajit through my superiors, who worked with him in Godrej and Nevis. They would talk enthusiastically talk about him, and I always wondered if I could meet him.

    My deepest condolences to his family.

  21. The two things I will always remember about Ajit, who hired me at Godrej EBE, are his calm and cool management style and his love for nature and hiking. May his soul rest in peace.

  22. I remember Ajay well

    In a time of madness he was a sobering influence

    He was great

    May his soul rest in eternal peace

    If I can help family in any way, please let me know

  23. Ajit was my hostelmate, a year junior to me in H4, IITB. Never met him after leaving IIT, but had recently heard about his laudable enterprises from a mutual friend. I remember him as a quiet, no-fuss, amiable chap. Perhaps he was naturally tranquil, and the look in his eyes in the photo above reflects that. His passing away is a great loss. May his soul rest in peace, and may his family have the strength to bear the loss of a loved one.

  24. Maybe I am the last person to hear about his sad demise, but I am quite devastated, and just can’t believe that this could have happened.

    I have been interacting with Shelat since his Godrej days (1983), and always have been at awe at his magical influence on the colleagues for motivating them and finding out solutions for tough problems.

    A technical genius, he more than deserved the Distinguished Alumni award from his Alma Mater, IIT Bombay. He showed his acumen in the high-tech companies which he founded, doing those path-breaking things which people in Silicon Valley would dread.

    He sailed through the glorious times and tough times with equal ease and determination. A year back, he had visited us with his talented wife Radha, and vivacious 11 year old daughter, Arundhati.

    He talked about his continuing love for jogging, and participations in Marathons. All this while shuttling around the Metros, trying to raise orders for his new network security products and finances for his company.

    He of course, had been a great motivation for me and whole lot of colleague for hiking, mountaineering etc. He showed the way of how technology and nature complement each other.

    It is therefore, absolutely tragic, that a great person like him should be a victim of an accident. A personality who, if destiny had spared, would have brought India to the forefront of Innovation.

    We all have an obligation to continue on the path he has shown and ensure that his example makes the lasting difference.

  25. It’s going to be almost 3 months since this happened. Only now I have gathered the courage to respond to these posts. I really appreciate what has been said about him. We miss him every day, every morning, evening and through the day. It still unbelievable that he is not around and he is never going to show up. He has been around for everything, for me, for his daughter, for his parents, his friends.

    The loss is not only ours, it is much more than that. I wish such people were given more time and not taken away so abruptly.

    We still can’t explain to ourselves how the car accident happened and what really caused it. I have been to the accident site many times, keep analyzing the accident pictures but nothing makes sense to me. I wish there was someone who had seen it happen and could tell us. It is almost like a plot, planned and executed so precisely, he could not even make a phone call!!

    The goodwill that he has left behind is amazing; we have received tremendous support and affection from all our friends, family, colleagues and lot of people who have one way or the other known us/him. That is one thing that has kept us going to so far.

    1. Hi Radha,
      I am not quite sure how to say this. I was just looking for Ajit – to add him to my FB as a friend and i just saw this article from Sept 2010. Words cant describe what and how i feel. I am so very sorry at your, Arundhati’s and the rest of your families tragic and untimely loss. :-(.
      Ajit was a great mentor for us at Godrej and i wish i had kept up with him and y’all.
      Please accept my very late condolences.

      God Bless you and Arundhati.

      Vijay Banga – ex. Godrej’ite.

  26. I just learnt of Ajit’s sad demise today while browsing the net and was deeply shocked.
    Ajit was my classmate and friend upto the 5th standard in Maria Assunta Convent and I think his mother and sister will probably remember me. We were very close friends and spent all our free time together.
    As time passed, we went to different schools and while I joined Poona Engineering college, he joined IIT Bombay. If I remember right he took up Chemical engineering in the first year while I took up Electrical Engg.
    We met around that time and I can’t remember exactly what transpired, but somehow he went away convinced that he also should switch to Electrical Engg. He lost a year but made the change and look what heights he rose to from there!
    I would like to think that I was playing the role of destiny and somehow instrumental in aligning him in the right direction, though God knows my innocence and ignorance about the fields of engineering at the time hardly qualified me to be in any way more knowledgeable than him.
    I left Poona later to do my ME in IISc and lost all further contact with Ajit.
    I had no idea what happened to him after that
    and never guessed that some of those Terminal servers made by Godrej that we were using in Tata Electric in the 80s were designed by my own ex-classmate.
    I never went back to Poona since 1976 and so never had an opportunity to reestablish contact with Ajit and was completely unaware of his exploits and success in his ventures.
    Only a few months back when I joined Facebook and started considering it as a great tool for rediscovering old friends, I came across Ajit’s name again.
    I always kept planning to get in touch with Ajit one of these days, now that I had discovered him again, but alas, God has snatched him away before I could do that.
    My sincere condolences and regards to his mother (who, if memory serves me right, used to teach Hindi those days) and to his sister and his wife.
    My mother also remembers her very well and conveys her condolences and regards to Ajit’s mother.

    Jagdish Rao
    (formerly of No. 6, Tadiwala Road, Poona)

  27. Dear Radha mam,
    I was associated with Shelat Sir in a very junior position. I have observed him at close quarters. I used to borrow his Kinetic as well as M800 for official work.

    May God bless his Soul!

  28. Hello

    I was searching Ajit Shelat in FB today. I was shocked to read about this news so late. I am really sorry to learn about this sad demise. I was working with Godrej during 1983 to 1986 in the same department. Last we met was in the train when travelling from Pune to Mumbai. Indeed very very sad news.

    Pradeep Joshi

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