Nandan Nilekani led panel formed by RBI
by Times of India
“IT has obviously come a long way—from something seen as a threat to people to something people are demanding as a way of protecting their rights. For Indians, it has become an enabler.”
Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani will be heading the operations at the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) panel on digital payments, the central bank announced on Tuesday. Nandan Nilekani, the man behind setting up the Aadhaar system in the country, will be assessing a committee studying the digital payments in the country with an objective to accelerate digitisation of the economy and boost financial inclusion.
Nilekani will head the panel to "review the existing status of digitisation of payments in the country, identify the current gaps in the ecosystem and suggest ways to bridge them". It will also assess the current levels of digital payments in financial inclusion and undertake cross-country analyses to identify best practices that can be adapted to accelerate digitisation of the economy and financial inclusion through greater use of digital payments.
An alumnus of Electrical Engineering IIT Bombay ‘78 batch, Nandan Nilekani is an Indian entrepreneur, bureaucrat and politician. While at college, he was part of the Mood Indigo Core Group Team, the cultural fest at IIT Bombay. After his graduation, Nandan Nilekani aspired to be accepted at Indian Institute of Management and thus was looking forward to writing the CAT exam. But fate intervened while he was still on the fork. Right before CAT, the entrance examination to MBA course at IIMs, Nilekani had a fever. He missed CAT and an IIM degree that would have been his passport to success.
He took the road less travelled and went to Patni Computer Systems in Mumbai where he was interviewed by the man who would become his mentor, NR Narayana Murthy.
Had Nilekani not fallen ill before his CAT, he would have been a senior executive at a well-known company—but not the founder of India's most popular tech company and the man who gave Indians 12-digit unique identity number.
Narayana Murthy took him down the path of entrepreneurial glory in 1981, when Nilekani, Murthy and five others left Patni to start their own company, Infosys, the second-largest Indian IT company by 2017 revenues and 596th largest public company in the world in terms of revenue with a market capitalisation of $44.32 billion as of September 28, 2018. Nilekani became the chief executive officer of Infosys in March 2002 and served as CEO of the company through April 2007. During his five-year tenure as CEO, Infosys' topline grew sixfold to $3 billion.
“The biggest thing the money Infosys brought me is the freedom to do what I want. And what I want is to give millions more the opportunities I had.”
Nilekani left Infosys in July 2009 only to be brought back in 2017. In the meantime, he served as the chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India, a cabinet-ranking position that he entered under the invitation of the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. As chair of the UIDAI, his responsibility was to implement the Multipurpose National Identity Card, or Unique Identity card (UID Card) project in India, an initiative which 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. He also headed the Government of India’s technology committee, TAGUP, a government of India advisory group to look into technology part of 5 large financial sector projects.
Nilekani has devoted himself to philanthropy and backing startups. Estep, his non-profit education-focused effort, has developed a mobile phone-based interactive platform to address learning problems among young children. His next book, Rebooting India: Realizing a Billion Aspirations, has been released in November 2015.
“Slowly, ideas lead to ideology, lead to policies that lead to actions.”
Nandan Nilekani received the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1999. He was named the 'Corporate Citizen' of the Year at the Asia Business Leaders Award (2004) organized by CNBC. In 2005 he received the prestigious 'Joseph Schumpeter prize' for innovative services in the economy, economic sciences and politics. In 2006, Nandan received one of India’s highest civilian honours, the prestigious 'Padma Bhushan.' Forbes Asia named him `Businessman of the Year’ in the same year. Time magazine listed him as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2006 and 2009. He is the author of 'Imagining India', which was one of the finalists for the FT-Goldman Sachs Book Award for the year 2009. Foreign Policy magazine listed him as one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers in 2010.