July 06, 2020
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Nandan Nilekani

Infosys CEO & MD, a benefactor of the recently launched New India Foundation, on one of the most well-funded awards for social science in the country

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Nandan Nilekani
Nandan Nilekani
outlookindia.com
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What is the focus of the foundation?
To support genuine research and illuminate any aspect of post-Independence Indian history.

When and how did the idea germinate?
It was conceived by Ramachandra Guha, we had a chat at Koshys in Bangalore one day and found the idea interesting, that's how the whole thing began.

What was the response like in the first year?
Tremendous. We got about 250 applications, shortlisted nine for the interviews and chose five.

What's the fellowship amount?
A monthly emolument of Rs 50,000, for a year. The research will be published as books.

Who is funding the foundation?
There are many individual donors. I'm just one of them and a trustee. Infosys CFO Mohandas Pai, Ramesh and Swati Ramanathan of Janagraha, Prof Meenakshi Mukherjee and others have contributed.

How will the foundation meet its expenses?
It will run primarily on donations.

How different is this project from funding your alma mater IIT Bombay?
There the idea was pay back. It was at a larger scale.

An IT person interested in social sciences....
It's important to understand history and society. IT and business are part of the bigger story.

How keen are you on a sociological study of the Indian IT industry?
There is no IT bias in the foundation. If we get an interesting proposal, we will pick it on merit.

Do you visualise an active public role for the foundation?
The research should do the talking. We stress on intellectual rigour and accommodate all views.

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