Nandan Nilekani

Nandan Nilekani

Nilekani at the World Economic Forum in Davos, 2007
Personal details
Born (1955-06-02) 2 June 1955
Vani Vilas Women and Children Hospital, Bangalore, Karnataka, India
Nationality Indian
Political party INC
Residence Bangalore
Alma mater Bishop Cotton Boys' School, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay
Occupation Former chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI)

Nandan Nilekani[1] (born 2 June 1955) is an Indian entrepreneur, bureaucrat and politician. He was the Chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).[2] After a successful career at Infosys, he headed the Government of India's technology committee, TAGUP.[3] He is a member of Indian National Congress but not active in politics[4] as of 2015.

Early life

Nandan Nilekani was born on 2 June 1955 at Bangalore, Karnataka.[5] His parents Durga and Mohan Rao Nilekani are from Konkani Brahmin community originally from Sirsi town in Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka[6] His father worked as a general manager of Mysore and Minerva Mills and subscribed to Fabian Socialist ideals that influenced Nilekani in his early years. Nilekani's elder brother, Vijay, works in the Nuclear Energy Institute.

Nilekani studied at the Bishop Cotton Boys' School and St. Joseph High School Dharwad, Karnataka PU College Dharwad and received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Mumbai.


Information Technology

Nilekani in 1978 started his career at the Mumbai-based Patni Computer Systems, where he met and was interviewed by N.R. Narayana Murthy. In 1981, Nilekani, Murthy, and five others left Patni to start their own company, Infosys. Nilekani became the chief executive officer of Infosys in March 2002 and served as CEO of the company through April 2007, when he relinquished his position to his colleague Kris Gopalakrishnan and became co-chairman of the board of directors. Before assuming leadership as CEO in 2002, Nilekani held various posts, including managing director, president, and chief operating officer. He served as its CEO from March 2002 to April 2007.[7][8][9] During his 5-year tenure as CEO, Infosys' topline grew sixfold to $3 billion.


Nilekani left Infosys in July 2009 to serve as the chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India, a cabinet-ranking position that he entered under the invitation of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.[7][8] As chair of the UIDAI he is responsible for implementing the envisioned Multipurpose National Identity Card, or Unique Identity card (UID Card) 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.[9] The identification method will be biometric, and the drive to create this government database of the entire population of India has been called "the biggest social project on the planet."[10]

He is a member of the board of governors of the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) and the president of NCAER (the premier independent applied economics research institute in India).[9] He also sits on several advisory boards, including those of the World Economic Forum Foundation and the Bombay Heritage Fund.[11]

Nilekani has appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to promote his book Imagining India: The Idea of a Renewed Nation [12] and spoke at a TED conference in 2009 on his ideas for India's future.[13]


Nilekani joined Indian National Congress in March 2014 and contested from the Bangalore South constituency where he lost by 228,575 votes[14] to BJP candidate Ananth Kumar in the 2014 Lok Sabha election.[15]

General Election 2014

Indian general election, 2014: Bangalore South[16]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
BJP Ananth Kumar 633,816
INC Nandan Nilekani 405,241
JD(S) Ruth Manorama 25,677
AAP Nina P. Nayak 21,403
BJP hold Swing


Nilekani is currently chairman of EkStep, a non-profit literacy and numeracy platform.[17] Set up by the Nilekanis with an initial commitment of $10 million (about Rs 65 crore), EkStep looks at solving the 'learning problem' by creating a technology-led platform to help children in improving their 'learning outcomes' quite early in their life. EkStep intends to do it using gamified apps, hosted in the Google playstore.[18]

Family and personal life

Rohini Nilekani

Nilekani is married to Rohini Nilekani (née Soman), whom he met at a quizzing event at IIT.[19] They have two children, Nihar and Janhavi, each of whom has received an undergraduate degree from Yale University.[20] Nandan Nilekani belongs to the Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmin community and his first language is Konkani. In addition to Konkani, he speaks Kannada fluently along with Hindi, Marathi, and English.

Honours and awards



  1. "Affidavit Information of Candidate". Retrieved 15 April 2014.
  2. Infosys Technologies Limited. "Nandan M Nilekani Appointed as Chairperson of Unique Identification Authority of India". Infosys.
  3. Special Correspondent (7 June 2010). "Finance Ministry sets up technology advisory group". The Hindu. Retrieved 10 April 2013.
  4. "BBMP polls: Nandan Nilekani says he's 'inactive in politics', asks voters to elect the best candidates". IBNLive. Retrieved 2015-12-22.
  5. Self. "About Nandan Nilekani". self. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  6. "Times of India".
  7. 1 2 "Rs. 100 crore for Unique Identification Project", The Hindu, Chennai, India, 17 February 2009, retrieved 26 June 2009, ... The Unique Identification Authority of India is being established under the aegis of the Planning Commission for which a notification has been issued in January 2009. A provision of Rs. 100 crore has been made in the annual Plan 2009–10 for this ...
  8. 1 2 "What exactly is the Unique ID project?",, 26 June 2009, retrieved 11 September 2012, ... The appointment of Nandan Mohan Nilekani, the co-chairman of Infosys, as the chairperson of the Unique Identification Authority of India is significant, not only because it marks a departure from the traditional government way of working... it shows that the government has actually put out effort to hunt the right person for the job ...
  9. 1 2 3 Background.
  10. Parker, Ian (3 October 2011). "The I.D. Man". The New Yorker. Condé Nast: 26–34. Retrieved 6 July 2013.
  11. 1 2 Nandan M. Nilekani | World Economic Forum – Nandan M. Nilekani. Retrieved on 13 December 2012.
  12. "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Official Website | Current Events & Pop Culture, Comedy & Fake News | Comedy Central". 18 March 2009. Retrieved 28 June 2009.
  13. TED2009. "Nandan Mohan Nilekani's ideas for India's future | Video on". Retrieved 10 April 2013.
  14. "Congress's first list for LS polls: Rahul, Sonia, Nilekani among 194 candidates named". The Times of India. PTI. 8 March 2014. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  15. "Constituencywise-All Candidates". ECI.
  16. "EkStep". Retrieved 2015-12-22.
  17. "Nilekanis' EkStep clicks education with its first app". Retrieved 2015-12-22.
  18. "School and IIT". Imagining India. Retrieved 28 June 2009.
  19. "Nilekeni's daughter to wed her Yale senior". The Indian Express. 17 August 2011. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
  20. "Watch Nandan Mohan Nilekani's address to Convocation". Retrieved 5 April 2014.
  21. "NDTV Indian of the Year 2011". Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  22. India Today Youth Summit 2010, 25 September, New Delhi. (25 September 2010). Retrieved on 13 December 2012.
  23. "The story continues". Imagining India. Retrieved 28 June 2009.
  24. The 2009 TIME 100 – Nandan Mohan Nilekani Time.
  25. Nandan Nilekani to be given Legend in Leadership award by Yale The Times of India
  26. Padma Bhushan Awardees – Padma Awards – My India, My Pride – Know India: National Portal of India. Retrieved on 13 December 2012.
  27. Nilekani as Businessman of the Year: Forbes Asia – Oneindia News. (1 December 2006). Retrieved on 13 December 2012.
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