Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani and his wife Rohini have signed the Giving Pledge, committing to give away half of their wealth. After Wipro’s Azim Premji, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw of Biocon and PNC Menon of Sobha Developers, they are the next set of billionaires in India to give away at least half of their wealth, which according to a report in Forbes, is pegged at $1.7 billion.
The Giving Pledge was pioneered by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet in 2010, who along with 40 billionaires across the globe, have committed most of their wealth for philanthropy and to help fight issues such as poverty and promote growth and equality.
The announcement comes after some of the world’s richest philanthropists created Co-Impact, a global model for collaborative philanthropy and social change at scale. Co-Impact will create a pool of all proceeds from philanthropists to invest $500 million in three critical areas, health, education, and economic opportunity, to improve the lives of the less-fortunate population across developing countries. The initial core partners of Co-Impact are Richard Chandler, Bill and Melinda Gates, Jeff Skoll, Dr Romesh and Kathy Wadhwani, and The Rockefeller Foundation, according to a PTI report.
According to a report in Economic Times and Forbes, Nandan and Rohini wrote in their pledge that wealth comes with a huge responsibility and is best deployed for the larger public interest.
They added that their philanthropic efforts will be directed at societal platforms, which are open, technology-enabled ecosystems or nurturing networks. “Built on an elegant yet light digital infrastructure, they design spaces for co-creation and participation by all entities with a stake in positive change – from state institutions and entrepreneurs to non-profits or individual citizens.”
Nandan and Rohini have been actively involved in philanthropy over the last two decades. In fact, Rohini, who runs a foundation Arghyam, focusing on water and sanitation issues, has been named in Forbes Asia’s annual list of Asia’s Heroes of Philanthropy in 2010. Her philanthropic work is in the areas of accountability, transparency & Governance, Arts & Culture, Civil Society & Intellectual Capacity, Civil Society Enablers, Access To Justice, Mental Health, Environment, Ecology & Conservation, Gender and Independent Media.
“Our philanthropic journey of two decades has been led by Rohini’s passion and commitment!” Nilekani tweeted on Monday. Rohini is also the Co-Founder of EkStep, set up with her husband in 2014. EkStep is an education non-profit that is an open learning platform to improve and amplifiy learning opportunities for every child.
She also co-founded and funded Pratham Books, a non-profit publisher of children’s books in 2014. Pratham Books has touched the lives of millions of children with its captivating, locally-set stories in multiple Indian languages.
Speaking to ET, they said, “We have been doing philanthropy for almost 20 years. But signing the Giving Pledge helps us join many people who are coming together and thinking about how to solve the world’s large problems.”
“Nandan and Rohini are not only a great example of generosity, they are also putting their time and energy into philanthropy. A lot of stuff they are doing is very catalytic. Philanthropy is tough. It forces you to think about your death. It requires a family to get to a certain point where they feel that giving makes sense for them. 171 people have signed the Giving Pledge. This is way beyond what we thought we would ever achieve,” Bill Gates told ET.