Thursday, June 25, 2009

Will the IT industry miss Nanadan Nilekani?

Infosys Technologies' Co-Chairman Nandan Nilekani was today appointed as Chairman of an Authority with Cabinet minister's rank to steer the ambitious scheme for creating a multi-purpose unique identification database of citizens.

54-year-old Nilekani, the co-founder of the leading IT firm along with N R Narayana Murthy 28 years ago, will head the Unique Identification Database Authority of India (UIDAI) under the aegis of the Planning Commission.

He will have the rank and status of the Cabinet minister, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni told reporters after a Cabinet meeting.

The scheme is aimed at providing a unique identity to the targeted population of the flagship schemes to ensure that the benefits reach them, she said.

A visionary and a thinker, Nilekani, who gets an annual compensation of over USD 1.75 lakh and whose net worth is USD 1.3 billion, resigned his membership of Infosys Board of Directors following his appointment.

His colleagues in Infosys top management Mohandas Pai and Kris Gopalakrishnan said his exit from would be a loss to the organisation but a gain to the country.

Announcing his appointment, the PMO said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has invited Nilekani to chair an authority that will create a unique identification database of the country's citizens.

Nilekani, born in Sirsi in Uttara Kannada in northern Karnataka, did his early education in Bangalore and Dharwad before moving to Mumbai to study Electrical Engineering in IIT, Bombay.

The PMO said The functioning of the authority and activities to be performed by the UIA would serve multiple objectives.

The authority shall have the responsibility to lay down plans and policies to implement the unique identification scheme in the country.

It shall own and operate the unique identification number database and be responsible for its updation and maintenance on an ongoing basis.

Sonia said the Authority shall have responsibility to lay down plans and policies to implement the Unique Identification Scheme (UID), shall own and operate the Unique Identification number database and be responsible for its updation and maintenance on an ongoing basis," Soni said.

The Authority will identify the targeted groups for various flagship programmes, she added.

The flagship schemes of the UPA include the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan, National Rural Health Mission and Bharat Nirman.

The unique identification number would ensure that any lacuna in these schemes is removed so that the benefits do not reach those they are not meant for.

The Government had earmarked Rs 100 crore in the interim Budget presented by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in Parliament on February 16 to kickstart its ambitious Unique Identification Project.

The government has been working on improving arrangements to ensure that development deliverables reach the intended beneficiaries, Mukherjee had said.

People may not be screaming his name out in offices, but he has his own fan following and enjoys rock star-like fame. Nandan M Nilekani has clearly emerged as the most famous of those who created India's widely idolised IT company - Infosys.

N R Narayana Murthy has probably had more media coverage but as the key people behind Infosys prepare to hand over control to the next generation of business leaders, it is Nilekani who looks all set to enjoy a great solo career.

Nilekani, 54, is already credited with repainting India's image globally and will now head an authority that will create a unique electronic database of the country's citizens - a project that many see as key to plugging loopholes in implementation of welfare schemes.

As chairperson of the country's Unique Identification Authority, Nilekani would enjoy the rank of Cabinet Minister.

The electrical engineer from IIT, Bombay, who is the Co-Chairman of the Board of Directors of Infosys Technologies Limited, was named among Time magazine's world's 100 most influential people of 2009 - an honour he secured in 2006 too.

From March 2002 to June 22, 2007, he served as Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director and has previously held the posts of President and Chief Operating Officer of the company that he founded, along with Murthy and others, in 1981.

Economictimes & Agencies

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