A Conversation with Nandan Nilekani

Mr. Nandan Nilekani is an Indian entrepreneur, technocrat and author who has also stood for political office. Mr. Nilekani is a co-founder of Infosys Technologies set up in 1981, an Indian multinational corporation that provides business consulting, information technology, software engineering and outsourcing services.  Before assuming leadership as CEO in 2002, Mr. Nilekani held various posts, including managing director, president, and chief operating officer.  He served as its CEO from March 2002 to April 2007.  Mr. Nilekani was the first Chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) from June 2009 to March 2014.  As chair of the UIDAI, he was responsible for implementing the envisioned  Unique Identity number (Aadhaar) project in India.  This initiative aims to provide a unique identification number for all residents of India and will be used primarily as the basis for efficient delivery of welfare services and serve as a platform for innovation. To date over 700 million Indian residents have been issued their Aadhaar number.

Mr. Nilekani is  President of NCAER (the premier independent applied economics research institute in India).  He is also on the Board of ICRIER and a new initiative to start a University for sustainable urbanization – The Indian Institute of Human Settlements (IIHS). He stood for the Indian Parliamentary elections in April 2014 from the Bangalore South Constituency as a Congress candidate.

Mr. Nilekani received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Mumbai.  Nilekani was awarded one of India's highest civilian honours, the Padma Bhushan, in 2006. In 2006 and 2009, Time magazine placed Mr. Nilekani in the Time 100 list of World's Most Influential People and was presented the Legend in Leadership Award by Yale University, the first Indian to receive this honor. His book ‘Imagining India’ was one of the finalists of the FT-Goldman Sachs Book award in 2008. In 2009 he was on Foreign Policy’s list of 100 Global Thinkers. In 2011, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Law degree by the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. In 2014 he won The Economist Social and Economic Innovation award for his leadership role on Aadhaar.

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