Meet Rohini Nilekani, Philanthropist Named India's Most Generous Woman

Rohini Nilekani has been named India's most generous woman according to EdelGive Hurun's Top Philanthropist List 2023 based on her donation of Rs 170 crore. She has taken the 'Giving Pledge,' a commitment to allocate at least half of her wealth to causes.

Julisha Moraes
New Update
Rohini Nilekani

Image Credits: Open Magazine

Rohini Nilekani has been named India's most generous woman according to EdelGive Hurun's Top Philanthropist List 2023 on the basis of her substantial donation of Rs 170 crore. Nilekani is now in the top ten list of India's philanthropic elite. Nilekani's noteworthy contributions have earned her the 10th position on Hurun's list.


Rohini Nilekani is married to Nandan Nilekani, and their daughter, Janhavi Nilekani, actively participates in the family's philanthropic legacy as the founder of the Aastrika Foundation, particularly involved in maternal health initiatives. Her husband, the co-founder and non-executive chairman of Infosys, also occupies a spot on the list at the 8th place. Their combined annual donations reflect their commitment to philanthropy, totalling a staggering Rs 360 crore.

Both Rohini and Nandan Nilekani have taken the 'Giving Pledge,' a significant commitment to allocate at least half of their wealth to philanthropic causes. Their philanthropic endeavours encompass a wide range of initiatives, reflecting a deep-seated belief in the power of giving back. This power couple's commitment transcends mere financial contributions and extends to ecosystem building, contributing to a more inclusive and equitable society.

Who Is Rohini Nilekani?

Rohini Nilekani, born in 1960, is a multi-faceted Indian personality renowned for her roles as a writer, author, and most significantly, as a dedicated philanthropist. In 2001, she laid the foundation of the Arghyam Foundation, a non-profit organisation that concentrates on addressing water and sanitation concerns in India. Another feather in her cap is her chairmanship at the Akshara Foundation, an institution that prioritises elementary education. Furthermore, Rohini contributes to the noble cause of education by co-founding and serving as the co-director of EkStep, a non-profit educational platform. As the chairperson of Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies, she continues to spearhead philanthropic initiatives.


Hailing from a middle-class Mumbai family, Rohini's academic journey led her to graduate in French literature from Elphinstone College. Her professional career commenced as a reporter at Bombay Magazine in 1980, later transitioning to work with the Sunday magazine in Bangalore.

In 1998, Rohini unveiled her literary prowess with her debut novel, "Stillborn," a medical thriller published by Penguin Books. Her versatile talent extended to children's literature, evident in the Sringeri Series published by Pratham Books, a non-profit children's book publisher co-founded by Rohini in 2004.

Beyond her literary achievements, Rohini has made an indelible mark in the field of philanthropy. She founded the Arghyam Foundation in 2001, focusing on water and sanitation issues, and chairs the Akshara Foundation, emphasizing elementary education. Rohini's contributions further include co-founding and co-directing EkStep, a non-profit educational platform.

Her philanthropic commitment is truly remarkable. She retired as the chairperson of the Arghyam Foundation in September 2021, leaving behind a legacy of impact. Currently, Rohini supports around 80 civil society organizations, addressing a broad spectrum of issues, from climate change to gender equity, governance, justice, and animal welfare.

Her dedication is mirrored in significant financial pledges, including ₹50 crores to the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE). In 2013, she and her husband, Nandan Nilekani, donated ₹50 crores to the National Council of Applied Economic Research. Further financial contributions included the sale of 5.77 lakh shares in Infosys in 2013, raising ₹164 crores for philanthropic causes.

Rohini's philanthropic journey has earned her accolades, such as being named one of Asia's Heroes Of Philanthropy by Forbes Magazine in 2010 and 2014. Her remarkable journey was further acknowledged with the Best Grassroots Philanthropist award at the Forbes India Leadership Awards in March 2022. In 2020-21, she received the Philanthropist of the Year Award from the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).


In October 2022, she led the EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2022, with a donation of ₹120 crore during the financial year 2022, primarily focused on education and environmental sustainability. The spirit of philanthropy continues as Rohini donated ₹100 crore to the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) in Bengaluru in April 2023, furthering research and treatment in the domain of mental health.

Her life's journey is a testimony to the transformative power of philanthropy and dedicated efforts to make a lasting difference.

Women In Philanthropy: Leading By Example

Rohini Nilekani's philanthropic endeavours epitomize the power of giving back and the influence of women in business in shaping a better future for society. Her remarkable presence on Hurun's top Philanthropist List 2023 underscores her commitment to creating a positive impact and serving as an inspiration to others. As more women like her rise to the forefront of philanthropy, we can anticipate a more inclusive and equitable world for all.

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Rohini Nilekani philanthropy women in philanthropy