Kiran Karnik was born in 1947 in the Indian state of Maharashtra. He completed his BSc(Hons) in Physics from Bombay University and a graduated from Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad in 1968 from its flagship programme - Post Graduate Diploma in Business Management.
Graduating from IIMA, Karnik joined the Indian Space Research Organisation shortly after it was set up in 1969 and spent nearly 20 years in the organisation. He was part of the team that conceptualised the Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE), which won wide national and international acclaim, including the first UNESCO-IPDC Prize for rural Communication. Mr. Karnik was Director of the ISRO's Development and Educational Communicational Unit from 1983 to 1991.
Choosing a career path to create direct and substantial societal impact through education enabled by technology, Mr. Karnik left the ISRO and joined the Consortium for Educational Communication (CEC) as its first Director in 1991. CEC was set up by the University Grants Commission to co-ordinate and oversee the functioning of media centres in the universities.
In 1995, Mr. Karnik joined Discovery Networks as its managing director in India and oversaw the launch of Discovery Channel in South Asia in August 1995 followed by Animal Planet in 1999. He left the company in 2001
Kiran Karnik took up the position of President of NASSCOM in September 2001, after the sudden demise of its founder Dewang Mehta. He made the organisation into the preeminent association for the outsourcing industry and a prominent lobbying group for the concerns of the industry abroad. He left the organisation in 2008.
Post the biggest corporate fraud in Indian IT industry by Satyam computers Services, Mr Karnik was nominated the Chairman of Satyam Computer Services heading a three-member board by the government of India after it disbanded the Satyam board. As chairman of this interim board he was responsible for a transparent transfer of Satyam Computers to the new owners Tech Mahindra.
He has been a member of many government committees, including the Prasar Bharati Review Committee, and is currently a member of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister and the National Innovation Council.
He is currently the Chairman of the National Committee on Telecom & Broadband at the Confederation of Indian Industry.
Karnik has authored/edited a large number of publications, and lectures occasionally at major national institutes. He is the author of "The Coalition of Competitors: The Story of Nasscom and the IT Industry", 2012. He is a regular columnist with national newspapers, including the Economic Times.
· Awarded the “Padma Shri” in 2007, the fourth highest civilian award by the Government of India.
· Selected as 'Face of the Year' by Forbes magazine in 2003.
· Awarded the Franck J Malina Astronomical Medal for Space Education by the International Astronomical Federation in 1998