Rohini Nilekani – The Mistress Of Philanthropy

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Rohini NilekaniThey say about her that she has mastered the art of giving. Rohini Nilekani made news a few months back when she raised nearly 163 crores by selling of f her shares in Infosys for philanthropic work. She explained it away by saying it is her moral obligation to give the money away. Over the last decade she has invested in causes that span the environment, education and water.  A former journalist and the wife of former Infosys CEO and current chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India Nandan Nilekani, Rohini is known for being an activist in corporate circles. They both met many years back at an IIT quiz. She brought up her two children all by herself while Nandan dedicated all his time to setting up Infosys in its early years. Of the two of them, she is the one who makes him sensitive to the many causes that need attention.

The trusts and foundations set up by her are known for their exemplary work, including Arghyam, a charity that addresses water scarcity and Akshara Foundation and Pratham Books that work with children and education. At first uncomfortable with Infosys wealth, she has over the years, used her Infosys connection to further her philanthropic work and development agenda. She has inspired many others looking for solutions in corporate giving. Her biggest challenge remains to change mindsets, to convince people that wealth creation and distribution are meant to go hand-in-hand. But, Nilekani is hopeful for the future of philanthropy in India, about younger people coming in and changing mores. Though constantly inundated with her work, she finds time to write books, and is the author Uncommon Ground: Dialogues with Business and Social leaders and Stillborn, a medical thriller.

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