Wealth comes with huge responsibility and is best deployed in the larger public interest. Through my philanthropy, I look to support ideas, individuals and institutions that enable a strong samaaj (society), and that have integrity, ethical leadership, clarity of ideas and accelerated impact.

In the continuum of samaaj, bazaar (market) and sarkaar (government), only a strong society can keep markets and state accountable to the public good. We cannot be mere consumers of good governance; we have to co-create it.

Today’s technologies allow people to connect, to access knowledge and to drive action as never before. Yet, they also allow people to recede into comfort zones, to shut out ideas and people who are different.

Through my work, I hope to enable more creative collaborations across divides and silos. Today’s complex social issues demand participation from all entities that have a stake in positive change. As a citizen and a philanthropist, I wish to be vested in that positive change.

“Karmanye Va dhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana, Ma karma phalaheturbhurma Te Sangostvakarmani”

We have a right to do our duty but no automatic right to the fruits from the doing. It is critical that we do not slip into inaction fearing that we may not be able to reap direct reward.

Rohini advocates the idea of Societal Platform, a systemic method to resolve complex societal challenges with speed, at scale, sustainably. Societal Platform is an initiative of EkStep Foundation.


Rohini is the Co-Founder and Director of EkStep.

Set up with her husband, Nandan Nilekani in 2014, the education non-profit is an open learning platform that improves and amplifies learning opportunities for every child.


Rohini Nilekani is the Founder-Chairperson of Arghyam, a foundation that strives to provide safe, sustainable water for all.

Since 2005, Arghyam has funded numerous groundwater management and sanitation projects across the country. It has also set up India Water Portal, a knowledge bank that has grown to be a crucial resource for the sector.


In 2004, Rohini co-founded and funded Pratham Books, a non-profit publisher of children’s books. The organisation seeks to democratize the joy of reading and put ‘a book in every child’s hand.’

By the time she retired as Chairperson in 2014, Pratham Books had touched the lives of millions of children with its captivating, locally-set stories in multiple Indian languages.


An active advocate of Indian philanthropy, Rohini believes that dialogue has the power to de-risk our future. Through her work, she seeks to address the extreme inequality between the ‘have-everythings’ and the ‘have-nothings.’

Rohini sits on the Board of ATREE, the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, an environmental think tank. She is also on the Eminent Persons Advisory Group of the Competition Commission of India.

Between 2010 and 2012, she was a member of the Audit Advisory Board of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

Rohini has spent several years as a journalist, working with leading publications of the time, including Bombay Magazine, India Today, MINT and The Times of India.

In 2017, Rohini was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

As signatories of the Giving Pledge, Rohini and Nandan Nilekani have committed half their wealth to philanthropy.

Rohini Nilekani - Uncommon Ground

In 1998, Rohini released her first novel, Stillborn. The medical thriller was published by Penguin Books and was well received.

Rohini is also a prolific author of children’s books. Written under the pen name ‘Noni,’ and published by Pratham Books, these include the popular Sringeri Series.

In 2008, Rohini conceptualised and hosted the television show, ‘Uncommon Ground’ for NDTV.

The show served as a bridge across perceived divides and offered a platform for reasoned discourse between leaders of the corporate world and representatives of the social sector. A book based on the show was published by Penguin Books India in 2011.

Areas of Work

Accountability, Transparency & Governance

Arts & Culture

Civil Society & Intellectual Capacity

Civil Society Enablers

Access To Justice

Mental Health

Environment, Ecology & Conservation


Independent Media

Current Grantees

Rohini Nilekani - Grantees - a Tree Rohini Nilekani - Grantees - Bangalore Literature Festival Rohini Nilekani - Grantees - Dakshin Rohini Nilekani - Grantees - Equal Community Foundation Rohini Nilekani - Grantees - Giving Tuesday Rohini Nilekani - Grantees - In the field Rohini Nilekani - Grantees - Independent and Public Spirited Media Foundation Rohini Nilekani - Grantees - Nature Conservation Foundation Rohini Nilekani - Grantees - Nyaaya Rohini Nilekani - Grantees - Vidhi Rohini Nilekani - Grantees - Takshashila Foundation

Past Grantees

Rohini Nilekani - Grantees - Ashoka Rohini Nilekani - Grantees - CHRI Rohini Nilekani - Grantees - CUPA Rohini Nilekani - Grantees - Daksh Rohini Nilekani - Grantees - FEJI Rohini Nilekani - Grantees - Landscape Wizards Rohini Nilekani - Grantees - Smriti-Nandan Rohini Nilekani - Grantees Rohini Nilekani - Grantees - PfA Wildlife Hospital Rohini Nilekani - Grantees - Prerak Trust Rohini Nilekani - Grantees Rohini Nilekani - Grantees - Rang De Rohini Nilekani - Grantees - Ranga Shankara Rohini Nilekani - Grantees


Rohini writes and speaks extensively on a wide range of subjects including Philanthropy, Environment and Water, Civil Society and Governance among many others. Her archives serve as a repository of these works.

To access the archives click here