Nandan Nilekani Biography: The Person Behind Indian IT BOOM

Nandan Nilekani Biography: Career, Politics, and Achievements

By Ava Smith Apr 25 2021 10:29PM 4053 Read
Nandan Nilekani Biography: Career, Politics, and Achievements

India is often recognized as the IT hub of the World, and the credit goes to a handful of gems. One of them is Nandan Nilekani, the person who co-founded Infosys. He is the man who proposed the “Aadhar Cards” in India and got 1.14 billion people registered to the system. He is the significant person behind India’s IT boom and started back in 1978 when Microsoft was not even started.

Today, in this article, we’ll throw light on the inspiring journey of Nandan Nilekani. We would read the complete life biography of him, starting from his education & early life to his current journey.

Early Life

Nandan Nilekani was born in Bangalore, Karnataka, on 02nd June 1955, & his parents Manohar Rao & Durga Nilekani, were from Sirsi town, situated in Uttara Kannada. His father was the GM of Mysore & Minerva Mills, while his elder brother, Vijay Nilekani, works in the USA at the NEI (Nuclear Energy Institute).

Nandan also was a bright student from his childhood and studied at the Bishop Cotton Boy’s School & St. Joseph High School Dharwad, Karnataka. He further went on to do graduation in electrical engineering from the prestigious IIT-B.


In 1978, Nandan Nilekani started his professional work life with Patni Computers Systems, Mumbai, after passing out of IIT-Bombay. Today’s Infosys founder, N.R. Narayan Murthy took his interview.

In 1981, NR Murthy, Nandan, and five other employees left Patni Computers and started their IT firm Infosys. Nandan became the company’s CEO in 2002 but assumed several different roles in Infosys during his tenure, including COO, MD, & President. He was the Infosys CEO from March 2002 to April 2007, for five years, and then left the company in July 2009. As per the Infosys succession policy, Nandan gave away his CEO post to Kris Gopalkrishnan and took the co-chairmanship seat till 2009 before leaving.

However, in 2017, he returned to the company to become a chairman after CEO Vishal Sikka took an exit.

Fun Fact: Nandan is an active investor of India and has his money invested in 12+ startups.

UIDAI Chairmanship

Nilekani’s foremost reason for leaving Infosys in July 2009 was to serve as the chairman of UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India), which is a administration cabinet ranking position. He joined the chairmanship after the invitation of then Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh. During his tenure as chair on UIDAI, he implemented the Unique Identity Card (UID) or Multipurpose National Identity Card project in India, thus, helping the government create the population database digitally. The methodology was biometric, and the project was also called “The Biggest Social Project on the Planet” by experts.

“When India got Independence, entrepreneurs were seen as bad a lot, as people who would exploit.”Nandan Nilekani


Nilekani also tried his hand at politics and contested in the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections. He joined Indian National Congress Party in March 2014 and was a candidate from the Bangalore South constituency. However, on heavy ‘MODI effect,’ he lost 228,575 votes to Ananth Kumar, the BJP candidate.

Apart from it, Nandan also is a significant sitting member of several national advisory boards, including the Bombay Heritage Fund and the World Economic Forum Foundation.

Fun Fact: Nandan Nilekani declared assets worth Rs 7710 crore in his affidavit filed for the election commission, making him the wealthiest candidate in the 2014 Lok Sabha election.

Nandan Nilekani Biography – Achievements & Awards
  • Nandan was also the co-founder of NASSCOM;
  • Nilekani was among the TIME Magazine’s top 100 influential people globally;
  • He was also the co-founder of the “The Indus Entrepreneur” (TIE)’s Bangalore chapter;
  • He also received an honorary Doctor of Law Degree from the “University of Toronto”;
  • He was awarded Padma Bhushan, the highest civilian award, by the Indian government in 2006;
  • Nandan Nilekani was named the “Businessman of the Year” by Forbes for Asia in 2007, ‘Asia’s Businessman of the Year 2003’ by Fortune Magazine, and the Corporate Citizen of the Year by CNBC in 2004 at the Asia Business Leader Awards (2004);
  • Nandan has been awarded “Legend in Leadership” in 2009 by Yale University
  • He also received the Joseph Schumpeter Prize in 2005 for innovative services in politics, economic sciences, and economy;
  • He was one of the youngest invitees in the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2006, among the top 20 global leaders;
  • He is the author of ‘Imagining India,’ & the book was listed FT-Goldman Sachs Book Award Final list in 2009.
  • He also received ‘Distinguished Alumnus’ in 2001 by IIT Bombay;
  • He is the president of NCAER;
  • Nandan is also a member of ICRIER (Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations)’s board of governor.

Nandan Nilekani Charity: In 2017, Nilekani & his wife pledged to donate more than 50% of their total wealth to the “Giving Pledge” movement, organized by Bill Gates.

Final Words

So, this was the detailed Nandan Nilekani biography and his inspirational journey from Patni Computer Systems to become a prominent national advisory member. He showed immense leadership, risk-taking, hard working, and consistently working qualities during his tenure, and the youth of India should learn from him closely.

Ava Smith
Ava Smith View More Posts

With over 2+ years of experience in the field of pathology and more than 5 months of experience in the field of writing, I, a pathologist & co-author of 10+ anthologies, compiler of two anthologies. I previously have worked with top online news portals and travel blogging companies.

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