5 Learnings From The Life Of Philanthropist Rohini Nilekani

Rohini Nilekani is an Indian author and philanthropist. Here are 5 lessons to learn from her inspiring life.

Rohini Nilekani is an Indian author and philanthropist, who currently chairs the Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies. She has also co-founded EkStep, a non-profit education platform, and Pratham Books, a non-profit children’s publisher. Arghyam is another foundation that she set up for sustainable water and sanitation initiatives across the country.

In her early career, she worked as a journalist for notable media houses such as Bombay Magazine, India Today, MINT, and The Times of India. As an author, her body of work includes fiction and non-fiction topics, including children’s books in the Sringeri series of Pratham Books.

Her passion for philanthropy is nothing short of inspiring. Here are 5 learnings from her life:

Married women need to make independent financial decisions

Rohini and Nandan Nilekani were newlyweds when he started Infosys with 6 other software engineers in 1981. She mentions that she invested all that she had, a sum of Rs. 10,000 in the company. This made her wealthy independently of Nandan when the company became phenomenally successful. It shows how her decision to maintain a personal share in the company generated money that solely belonged to her.

Books are the best way to connect with children

When Rohini co-founded Pratham Books in 2004, her dream was to see a book in every child’s hand, especially among the underprivileged. Some of their books are bilingual and they publish books tailored for the Indian child. They have tackled complex topics such as gender stereotypes, climate change, and disability to name a few, through their books. Apart from this, they also write books on topics such as bullying, body positivity, and life-changing events such as the separation of parents, to help them deal with it in an age-appropriate way.

The feminist movement will benefit from including men in the conversation

Rohini calls herself a feminist and believes that patriarchy also affects men. She speaks of how young men in India are thrust into gendered roles and often don’t receive the space they need to talk about gender barriers and issues that affect them. Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies has initiated research into how young men and boys can be a part of the gender equality movement in India. Through this research, they tackle key issues such as CSA, gender sensitivity, and challenging gender-based stereotypes. The ultimate aim is to move towards a gender-equitable society. This requires working with young men to free them from the shackles of patriarchy.

Social issues are deeply interconnected

Rohini talks of how the different issues supported by her are all interconnected. She makes an excellent case of how education and water are interlinked, citing that girls from underprivileged backgrounds often drop out of school as they do not have access to clean toilets. Some of them also lose out on school as their families make them fetch water from remote areas.

Women can be changemakers

Rohini’s philanthropies are proof that women can tackle pressing social issues and positively impact society through their work. She has chosen issues such as climate change, education, and water, that need urgent attention in our country. For an average Indian woman, this may seem like a far-fetched dream, but Rohini mentions how women have played a greater role in philanthropy than merely giving wealth away. As a society, we often don’t consider time, energy, and talent as worthy enough contributions. For many women, this is a reality they will attest to, as the labor they do daily for their families largely goes unnoticed. But it is time we change this mindset and take pride in our contribution to our families, workplaces, and society.

Never miss real stories from India's women.

Register Now

Image Credit: Image from the website of RNP.


About the Author

Jayashree Ravi

An engineer turned SAHM of two who wants to be known beyond that. Passionate about words, parenting, making eco-friendly choices, feminism and lifelong learning. read more...

26 Posts | 20,154 Views

Stay updated with our Weekly Newsletter or Daily Summary - or both!

All Categories