Nandan Nilekani is an Indian entrepreneur and one of the founders of the renowned Indian information technology business ‘Infosys’. He is a hero and an inspiration to the educated Indian middle class, who perceive in him a man who has risen to high heights in life only on the strength of his merit. He chose to be an entrepreneur during his formative years after watching his father’s repeated work moves and subsequent relocations. He developed from a little town youngster to a confident and mature young man as a result of his education at IIT, where he learned to work hard and perform as a team member. He also realized the value of giving back to society, a significant aspect of his personality that has remained intact over the years. After graduating and working in a firm for a few years, he decided to form his own company with a few of his colleagues, and thus ‘Infosys’ was formed, where he worked in various positions for the following 28 years. He served as chairman of UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India) after quitting his company, a national government scheme that intends to offer a unique identification number to all Indian inhabitants. As a philanthropist, he also generously supports causes like healthcare and education for neglected segments of society.
Childhood & Adolescence
He was born to Mohan Rao Nilekani and his wife Durga on June 2, 1955, in Bangalore, Karnataka, India.
He attended Bishop Cotton Boys’ School and St. Joseph High School in Dharwad for his early education.
He then enrolled at the Karnataka PU College in Dharwad and graduated with a B.Tech in electrical engineering from IIT Bombay in 1978.
Nandan Nilekani’s Career
In 1978, he was interviewed for his first job by N.R. Narayana Murthy was hired by Mumbai-based ‘Patni Computer Systems.
In 1981, he together with Murthy and five others, resigned their positions and formed their own company the name of ‘Infosys’.
He served in numerous capacities at Infosys for over two decades, including managing director, president, and chief operating officer.
He was appointed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Infosys in March 2002, a position he held until April 2007.
In 2007, after quitting as CEO, he was appointed co-chairman of the company’s board of directors.
He resigned from Infosys in July 2009 to become chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), a cabinet-level position.
Additionally, he published his book ‘Imagining India: The Idea of a Renewed Nation’ in 2009.
He entered politics in the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections, representing the Indian National Congress from the Bangalore South constituency, but lost by a margin of 228,575 votes against BJP candidate Ananth Kumar.
He now serves as the chairman of the ‘Technology Advisory Panel for Unique Initiatives’ (TAGUP), a government of India advisory group charged with examining the technology component of five big financial sector projects.
He is also President of NCAER’s governing body, the National Council of Applied Economic Research, India’s oldest and most prestigious autonomous economic research institute.
He is currently a member of the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations’ board of governors (ICRIER).
He also serves on various advisory boards, including those of the World Economic Forum and the Bombay Heritage Fund.
His Significant Works
One of his most illustrious accomplishments was co-founding ‘Infosys’ in 1981 with Narayana Murthy and a few other software specialists. With their hard work and outstanding talent, the company became the topmost name in the Indian IT industry over the next twenty years.
As head of UIDAI, he was tasked with the responsibility of developing a biometric database for the whole Indian population and issuing a unique identification number known as ‘Aadhaar’ to all Indian residents.
Over the years, as philanthropists, he and his wife made significant contributions to non-profit projects in water infrastructure, microcredit, and social research. Additionally, they invested in education and healthcare by contributing a proportionate share of their fortune to benefit society.
Awards and Accomplishments
He received the prestigious ‘Joseph Schumpeter prize’ in 2005 for his innovative contributions to economics, economic sciences, and politics.
He was selected ‘Businessman of the Year’ by Forbes Asia in 2006.
In 2006, he received the Padma Bhushan, India’s third-highest civilian honor.
In 2006, he became one of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Foundation Board’s youngest members, joining a group of twenty global leaders.
He was named to Time magazine’s Time 100 list of the ‘World’s Most Influential People’ in 2009.
In 2009, he became the first Indian to receive Yale University’s coveted ‘Legend in Leadership Award.’
He received the NDTV Indian of the Year’s ‘Transformational Idea of the Year Award’ in 2011.
In 2011, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.
Personal History and Legacies
He met Rohini at a quiz event and the two quickly fell in love and married. Nihar and Janhavi are their two children. Their children are both undergraduate students at the prestigious Yale University in the United States.
Estimated Net worth
Nandan Nilekani is a self-made Indian entrepreneur worth $1.3 billion. Mr. Nilekani first built his fortune as a cofounder and former CEO of Infosys, India’s third-largest information technology company (by sales), which provides business consulting, technology, engineering, and outsourcing services.