In the past 15 years, India’s identity has undergone one of the biggest transformations that any country has ever experienced. It was once synonymous with poverty, snake charmers and the Taj Mahal.
But stop someone on the street in the West today and say “India,” and the words that come back at you are “brainy,” “software engineers,” “call centers” and “the country most likely to take my job”!
One of the Indian engineer-entrepreneurs
most responsible for creating the new
reality that has produced this
new Indian image is
Sseattle has Bill. Bangalore has Nandan. He was one of the founders and president, of Infosys Technologies Ltd., based in Bangalore India’s Silicon Valley. Infosys, Wipro and Tata Consultancy Services are the Microsoft, IBM and Sun Microsystems of India. What makes Nilekani unique? It can be summarized to one phrase: great explainer. Yes, he and N.R. Narayana Murthy, Infosys’ legendary chairman, have built a great global company from scratch. But the reason Nilekani, 54, is so sought out is that he has a unique ability not simply to program software but also to explain how that program fits into the emerging trends in computing, how those trends will transform the computing business and how that transformation will affect global politics and economics. It was his insight that the global playing field was being “leveled” by technology.
In this era of mounting complexitywith more people, systems and products entwined in a bewildering web of global networksexplaining is an enormously valuable skill and Nilekani is blessed with this inimitable power.
Nandan Nilekani was born in Bangalore. His father Mohan Nilekani was a manager in Minerva Mills. Nandan Nilekani had his initial schooling in Bangalore. Due to his father’s transferable job Nandan moved to his uncle’s place at Dharwad at the age of 12. This taught Nandan Nilekani to be independent. In 1973, at the age of 18, Nandan Nilekani got admission in IIT Mumbai. The stint at IIT Mumbai transformed Nandan Nilekani from a small town boy to a confident mature man. The lessons he learnt were-meritocracy; the ability to work as part of a team; hard work; and the importance of giving back to the society-have stood him in good stead.
After graduating in electrical engineering from IIT Mumbai in 1978, Nandan Nilekani joined Patni Computers. Here he worked under Narayan Murthy. Three years later in 1981, Nandan Nilekani along with Narayan Murthy and five other co-founders founded Infosys. While Narayan Murthy stayed in India, Nandan Nilekani shifted to the US to take care of Infosys’ interests there. He was the company’s marketing face.
In 1980s and 90s Nandan Nilekani and his team worked hard to build Infosys. Today Infosys’ success story has become a legend in India’s corporate history. Today, Infosys has an employee strength of 58,000, annual revenue of $2 billion and $21 billion capitalization.
Infosys is now looking to buy information technology (IT) firms in Europe, South America, Japan, West Asia and Australia that earn $450-500 million a year in revenue and cater to the healthcare and energy sectors. Nilekani, who could have conveniently been the possessor of his selfish goals, kept his heart inspired and ever afire with enthusiasm to live for a nobler cause and meaningful strife for the country.
With resolve sufficiently strong, desire exclusive and faith complete, Nandan Nilekani with his mind and senses, intellect and reason, all turn introvert and unflinchingly took the path of righteousness and struggled to achieve excellence in his every endeavor and today he is all prepared to serve the nation with modesty and magnanimity of the purpose.
Nandan Nilekani, one of the biggest brands of corporate India will head the national project for creating a database of citizens, took over as the chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIADI) on Thursday, July 23, 2009.
Nilekani will rig in as cabinet minister in his new responsibility. He has been inducted into the government by the Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh to head the Unique Identification Authority of India.
The man, who impressed everyone not only by his scientific imagination and inventive skill but by his pride and patriotism, while bidding adieu to Infosys said, “I am generally very articulate but this is not the day or place where I can be articulate. I have been wrapped up in Infosys for 28 years. My only identity is Infosys. I will be going to lead a programme to give identity to every Indian. But today I am losing my own identity”.
The simple and deep-seated conviction in Nilekani’s mind that there is a unitary whole which manifests as a manifold made the software czar Bill Gates believe in him and the new project when he expressed his keenness on partnering with India’s ambitious project of issuing national identity cards to one billion people, which he hailed as a “great initiative. “According to Gates, Nilekani has a “challenging task” on hand.
The necessity for a centrally issued ID is accentuated by the growing problems of illegal immigrants in various parts of the country. The ID is expected to serve as a unifying document to identify the citizens of India.
The events of 26 November in Mumbai have hastened the set up of the National Authority for Unique Identity. The body was set up on 27 January 2009. The initial phase of the project is expected to cover nine States and four Union Territories. The UID will be issued to people living in the coastal villages of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal. The Union Territories of Dadar and Nagar Haveli, Lakshadweep, Puducherry and Andaman & Nicobar Islands shall also be covered in this first phase expected to deliver the identity cards by early 2010.
Issuance of identity cards to 1.2 billion, certainly a Herculean task, will be accomplished in a meticulously planned way. The first set of unique identification numbers will be issued to the citizens within 12-18 months. These numbers will not only provide an identity to citizens but will also help them in obtaining benefits of government scheme and also undertake with ease other activities like opening bank accounts and availing electricity connection.
The objectives of the NAUID (MNIC) Project is to obviate need for multiple documentary proof; facilitate easy verification and easy availing of government or private services; help welfare programmes to reach intended beneficiaries and serve as basis for e-governance services.
The ID will effectively serve numerous purposes like the preparation of National Population Register (NPR); preparation of National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC); preparation of National Register of Residency (NRR) for non-citizens; to provide National Identity Number (NIN) to each person; provision of Multi-purpose National Identity Card (MNIC) to each citizen and also Multi-purpose Residency Card to non-citizens
Every individual citizen of the country is expected to be provided with a UID by 2012.
The UID authority shall work closely with the National Population Register proposed to be created by the Home Ministry through the Registrar General of the Census of India concurrently with the census 2011 in accordance with the provisions of the Indian Citizenship Act.
Unique Identification Authority of India will ensure every Indian with an identification proof in form of unique 16-digit number which also has the possibility to serve the individual with the same 16 digit mobile number as well. The smart card issued will have identification details like name, sex, address, marital status, photo, identification mark and finger biometrics of a person. Karnataka has been selected for the pilot implementations of its ambitious Unique Identity Number (UIN) project by Unique Identification Authority of India.
Nandan Nilekani is recipient of several honors and awards. In January 2006, Nandan became one of the youngest entrepreneurs to join 20 global leaders on the prestigious World Economic Forum (WEF) Foundation Board. He figures among one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine, 2006 & 2009. In 2005 he was awarded the prestigious Joseph Schumpeter prize for innovative services in field of economy, economic sciences and politics. In 2006, Nandan Nilekani was conferred the Padma Bhushan, one of the highest civilian honors of India.
A man who always believed in hard work and remained industrious throughout his career will now be instrumental in redefining nation building in an innovative way.