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Rohini Nilekani

Chairperson, Arghyam

Rohini Nilekani is founder-chairperson of Arghyam, a foundation she has personally endowed to fund initiatives in “safe, sustainable water for all.” Since 2005, Arghyam has supported projects in water and sanitation all around India. Arghyam also facilitates the India Water Portal, which has become a singular resource for the sector. In 2004, Rohini co-founded and funded Pratham Books, a non-profit children’s publisher, which aims to democratize the joy of reading with “a book in every child’s hands.” By the time she retired as chairperson on Dec. 31, 2013, Pratham Books had reached millions of children with indigenous, attractive books in multiple languages. Rohini has served on several boards including ATREE—Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment—and SRFS—Sanghamithra Rural Financial Services. She is on the Eminent Persons Advisory Group of the Competition Commission of India. Until recently, she was a member of the Audit Advisory Board of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India. Earlier, she spent several years as a journalist, and has worked or written for many leading publications such as Bombay Magazine, India Today, the Sunday Times, and the Times of India. Her first novel, “Stillborn,” a medical thriller, was published by Penguin Books. In 2008, she anchored a television show called “Uncommon Ground” for NDTV, which created a rare dialogue between top leaders of the corporate and social sectors. A book based on the show was published by Penguin Books India. Rohini is also the author of several books for young children, including the popular Sringeri Srinivas series, published by Pratham Books. As a committed philanthropist, she continues to fund work in areas such as governance and accountability, independent media, education and research, and environmental sustainability. Rohini is an active advocate for Indian philanthropy.