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What Nilekani wants: white Amby without the red beacon

business Updated: Jun 27, 2009 11:05 IST
Gautam Chikermane
Gautam Chikermane
Hindustan Times
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A white Ambassador, yes. But a red light on top, no.

For Nandan Nilekani, the move from being co-chairman and founder of Infosys Technologies Ltd to becoming chairman of the National Unique Identification Authority (NUIA) is more than just a transition from the private sector to the public.

It is equally about moving from the entrepreneurial Bengaluru, where he has spent the past three decades, to the political New Delhi.

“The biggest change is that I’ll have to change my email ID,” Nilekani said. “For the last 30 years I’ve been wedded to one company, been associated with it from its birth and I’m completely in my comfort zone. This is completely different world, with far more ambiguities.”

Will the move from the hub of technology to the hub of power mean moving around in a white Ambassador with a red light flashing on top? “I may get the white Ambassador — I like the car — but without the light or siren,” he said.

As the IT guru morphs into an ID guru, he talks about his new assignment — July 9 is his last day at Infosys — with passion. “If it is done well, this project has enormous transformational implications,” he said. “Identity is something that empowers and identity inclusion is something that can bring access to infrastructure and services to the poor.”

What does he plan to do after his two-year term ends in 2011? Politics? “This (the NUIA project) is the mother of all problems,” he said. “I like to solve problems and it’ll take a long time to solve this. I’ve no time for anything else.”

How about a book (his Imagining India: Ideas for the New Century is gathering momentum in policy and business circles alike)? “No way,” he said. “I’ve no more time to write books anymore.”