‘I am proud of the fact that my wealth is completely transparent’

A day before filing his nomination for the Bangalore South Lok Sabha constituency, the Congress candidate and the former Chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), Nandan Nilekani, declared on Thursday that he and his wife Rohini have assets worth Rs. 7,700 crore.

“I started out with Rs. 200 in my pocket, when I graduated from IIT,” a release said, quoting him. “We founded Infosys with Rs.10,000. Today, because of the success of a company built from scratch, Nandan and Rohini have assets of Rs. 7,700 crore,” it said.

Mr. Nilekani, who served Infosys in various capacities, including as Chief Executive Officer, before his stint as UIDAI Chairman, is pitted against the former Union Minister and senior BJP leader, Ananthkumar, a five-time MP from the constituency.

“Most of our wealth, almost 80 per cent remains in Infosys shares,” the statement said. Mr. Nilekani said he still owns 1.45 per cent and Rohini 1 per cent of Infosys. “This wealth was created while Infosys brought lakhs of jobs to Bengaluru. The company also shared a lot of wealth with our employees through Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs).”

“The biggest thing the money Infosys brought me,” Mr. Nilekani said, “is the freedom to do what I want. And what I want is to give millions more the opportunities I had.” The Infosys story, he said, inspired a generation of young Indians to start something on their own.

Since 1999, Rohini and Nandan Nilekani had donated almost Rs. 400 crore of their wealth for various causes and charities, the statement said.

“I have worked in the social sector for more than 15 years now,” Rohini is quoted as having said in the statement. “…And when I came into some money through the sale of Infosys shares, I was able to spend more on my philanthropy.” Nandan and Rohini Nilekani have prioritised some key areas in their philanthropy — water, governance and education.

“I am proud of the fact that my wealth is completely transparent,” Mr. Nilekani said, “I haven’t made any of my money illegally or hid it in investments outside the country. Nothing is hidden in someone else’s bank account. It is all completely transparent, and tax-paid.”

“There is a lot to be done for Bengaluru South,” Mr. Nilekani said in the statement.

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