A Chronicle of Enlightened Citizenship Movement in the State Bank of India

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

‘Every paisa is spent carefully’

Path to philanthropy

For Rohini Nilekani (50), wife of Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of Infosys Technologies, activism started in college. Later, being a journalist was her way of being in the socio-political space. With Infosys, wealth came her way and she began doing her small bit in education, microfinance and health sectors. But April 3, 2005, was the day when she experienced her moment of epiphany and realised that it had to be water that she had to support. That’s how Arghyam’s water connect happened. “I came into big money in 2005 through the Infosys ADR and decided to give it toward building up one sector. I started research on where it could be invested most strategically to make a difference.” Soon, she found that there were no Indian foundations that were exclusively focusing on the water sector. “Most people accept that there is a crisis ahead of us and unless we do things to repair our current trajectory, India will be in a tight spot in terms of water,” she says. In hindsight, Arghyam seems to be the right decision for her. It is now working in more than 800 villages and supports everything from hygiene training, groundwater management to rainwater harvesting.

Rohini chairs Arghyam and Pratham Books and, by own admission, is a hands-on chairperson for both. “That’s all I do. I don’t have to run a company and am no longer a journalist, even though I continue to write an occasional piece. This is my day job and that’s all I know best.” For Pratham Books, the motive is to create quality content for children, which is accessible, affordable and attractive. Nilekani has full-fledged teams running both the organisations on a daily basis. “I am very proud and lucky to have Sunita Nadhamuni in the team. From one to 35 members, our team is growing fast.”

For Arghyam, she created an Rs 100-crore endowment and has topped it up with another Rs 50-crore this year from her...

courtesy: sarika malhotra / financial express

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