2016 Jury Member

The Rolex Awards for Enterprise

Location: India

Rohini Nilekani

Hailed for her path-breaking initiatives in her native India, in areas ranging from water conservation to education, independent media, environmental sustainability and governance, Rohini Nilekani has been repeatedly named one of Forbes Asia’s “Heroes of Philanthropy”. Over the past 15 years, the wife of Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani has parlayed her wealth into championing philanthropic endeavours throughout the country. A former journalist and occasional columnist, Nilekani has taken on many leadership positions: she is founder and chairperson of Arghyam, a foundation, which, since 2005, has funded organizations that implement and manage water and sanitation projects in more than 7,000 Indian villages. The foundation also facilitates the India Water Portal initiative, a web-based interactive platform for sharing water-management knowledge. Nilekani previously chaired the Akshara Foundation, which focuses on elementary education, and is founder and former chairperson of Pratham Books, a non-profit children’s publisher that seeks to put “a book in every child’s hands”. She has served on several boards, including ATREE ─ the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment. Nilekani is on the Eminent Persons Advisory Group of India’s Competition Commission and, until recently, was a member of the Audit Advisory Board of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India. In 2014, she co-founded EkStep, an education non-profit that under her directorship has created a technology platform for early learning. Nilekani speaks out frequently about the responsibility of India’s newly wealthy to give back in a country where extreme riches and abject poverty co-exist. She is the author of Stillborn (1998), a medical thriller, and Uncommon Ground (2011), a non-fiction account of dialogues between social and corporate leaders that she moderated as a former TV anchor.

Other 2016 Jury Members