Nilekani quits Infosys to head govt's ID project

IT czar gets Cabinet rank & status

Nilekani quits Infosys to head govt's ID project

The plan is to issue unique biometric identity card to every citizen.

The Centre on Wednesday announced that Nilekani would head the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the body that would supervise implementation of the IT-driven project to tag each citizen with a distinctive ID.

Hand-picked by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Nilekani would enjoy the status of a Cabinet minister.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said the Union Cabinet approved creation of the position of UIDAI chairperson. Soon after the Cabinet decision was announced, Infosys Technologies informed that Nilekani had resigned as the company’s co-chairman as well as from its Board of Directors.

An Infosys statement said the company’s Board of Directors had accepted his resignation, which would be effective from July 9, 2009.  Nilekani has been on the Infosys Technologies’ board since its inception in 1981. He served as Infosys’ chief executive officer and managing director between March 2002 and June 2007. He was later re-designated as co-chairman of its Board of Directors. He is the third among seven Infosys founders to leave the IT major. Ashok Arora was the first to quit as early as 1989, followed by N S Raghavan who retired in 2000.

Other founders, N R Narayana Murthy, S Gopalakrishnan, K Dinesh and S D Shibulal are still on Infosys’ board, with Murthy being the chairman and chief mentor.

Murthy said Infosys was happy as Nilekani had got an opportunity to add value to India as the head of UIDAI. 

“As a company that has always put the interest of society ahead of itself, Infosys will accept his (Nilekani’s) absence with a sense of duty to a larger cause,” he said.

Reacting to the government decision, Nasscom president Som Mittal said: “We are delighted by this appointment. This once again demonstrates the commitment of the UPA Government to fast track implementation of their election manifesto, which had UIDAI as a key project”.

Another reason for Nilekani’s resignation is that Infosys will surely be one of the bidders for the unique identity programme, estimated to be worth Rs 10,000 crore.
Nilekani and his family, however, may continue to hold 3.45 per cent stake in Infosys which is worth Rs 3,476 crore at Thursday’s market capitalisation.

An engineer from IIT-Bombay of the 1978 batch, Nilekani has been involved in various governance projects in Karnataka as well as at the Centre. He was part of the National Advisory Group on e-Governance.

He is a member of the review committee of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. He took over as the elected president of NCAER in April 2008. Nilekani also headed the Centre’s IT task force on power.

What’s UIC?

 *Every individual will be assigned a distinct identity number

*It will remain a permanent identifier right from birth to death of the individual 

* Availability: By early 2010 

* UIC will obviate need for multiple documentary proof

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