A lifetime of investing in the lives of others is a better way of living an impactful life, each year we discover lists of individuals with a peculiar mindset recognized and celebrated across nations for their charitable works.
Rohini Nilekani is an Indian philanthropist, who has consistently been recognized for her continued efforts in filling up vacuums in her society.
Rohini carries the billionaire’s mindset which is filled with spreading her wealth to others in a bid to build a society that she can be proud of. Her philanthropy investments cut across different areas of human needs including; health care, food, sanitation, microfinance, and education, to mention a few. Little wonder she has consistently been listed on the Forbes Asia’s list for “Heroes of Philanthropy” over the past fifteen years.
The irony of life that explains how people often think that wealth as a final destination to achievement is they fail to realize that “Wealth comes with huge responsibility and is best deployed in the larger public interest,” said Rohini.
According to one of Asia’s renowned female philanthropist, Mei Hing Chak from Southern China, what the above statement means is “that the value of life is actually not measured by the amount of wealth you possess but by the contribution you make to the society.”
Rohini is the beautiful wife of Nandan Nilekani the chairman of Infosys, and the couple has been engaged in championing philanthropic activities in the last decade all over India.
She is a journalist who has spent several years in journalism, working with India’s leading publications such as Bombay Magazine, India Today, MINT and The Times of India.
Under her journalism career, Rohini is a profound personality with various achievements to show for it. She sits on the Board of trustees of ATREE, the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, an environmental think-tank in pursuing sustainable development.
She is also on the Eminent Persons Advisory Group of the Competition Commission of India, and she served as a member of the Audit Advisory Board of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India from 2010 to 2012.
In 2017, Rohini was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
As a journalist, she understands the cries of the masses and she looks forward to meeting those needs the way she can.
She started out with giving long before she came into the spotlights as a philanthropy figure in Asia. With the little she had, she gave to the poor, less privilege and supported young girls with scholarships.
She was so crucial to her charity that she set out to create an organizational structure to channel her giving.
In 2004, Rohini and her husband experienced a major turning point in their business that led to a massive financial increase, after a concise thoughtful thinking, she was sure of what to do with her wealth.
She decided to re-brand her little foundation – Arghyam, into an organization that is concentrating on a particular goal, thereby carving a niche that is different and unique from other foundation and philanthropic movement.
Although Arghram has been in existence since 2001 but in 2005 Rohini redirected Arghyam’s focus on providing clean and portable water for the people of India. Since she was not familiar with the water sector, she took a while to study the sector and also got acquainted with its systems which enabled her to discover the best ways to leverage her resources.
Over the last six years, Arghyam has supported a large number of domestic water and sanitation projects and NGOs in 19 states. The foundation has also ventured substantial sustainable development activities in environmental sectors such as reviving traditional water bodies and rainwater harvesting. Asides the Arghyam foundation, Rohini also has other strategic charity channels that meet other human needs, which she funds with the sole aim of bettering the lives of many (if not all) in India.
Other channels of Rohini’s philanthropic endeavors include:
Pratham Books, a non-profit publishing house of children’s books cofounded in 2004. This organization has succeeded in touching the lives of millions of children by putting ‘a book in every child’s hand” which is the sole aim of the organization.
EkStep, Co-Founded in 2014 with her husband, is a non-profit educational organization that provides open learning platform targeted towards 200 million children in India between the ages of five and 10 years.
In the year 2000, Rohini also founded the Akshara Foundation – a charity organization that provides quality education for underprivileged children in Bangalore, India.
Beyond these above mention NGOs founded by Rohini, there are many more channels through which she spreads her fortune to the society.
We live in a world where there is a great imbalance between the ‘have everything’ and the ‘have-nothing’ which leads to so much discrimination among humanity.
However, there are also very few persons who want to live their lives on a continuous course of bridging such gaps.
Rohini’s greatest pursuit is to bridge the wide gap between the ‘have-everything’ and the ‘have-nothing’ in the society.
She believes that good governance starts from the people, and is the responsibility of the people to create a government of their own: “We cannot be mere consumers of good governance; we have to co-create it,” she argued.
She constantly reminds herself that she is lucky and she has a lot to do for the society.
This explains why Philanthropy is seen as a billionaire’s mindset, because all billionaires love investment, and philanthropy is investing in lives.