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Nilekani: Infosys’ loss or government’s gain?

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India’s Silicon Valley is saying goodbye to Nandan Nilekani, the engineer-entrepreneur who co-founded Infosys Technologies and helped put India on the global IT map.

Nandan NilekaniA statement from the country’s No. 2 software exporter on Thursday said Nilekani has been invited by the prime minister to head the government agency Unique Identification Authority of India in the rank of a cabinet minister.

Nilekani’s exit throws up several questions — what prompted this co-chairman with a spotless past to take up a government responsibility? In a nation of billion-plus people where corruption is seen putting the brakes on most government initiatives, can Nilekani replay a corporate story of success? Can he bring the same professionalism in the corridors of power at Raisina Hill?

Nilekani, who was honoured with the Padma Bhushan in 2006, joins a list of corporate stalwarts who are making way for a younger crop being groomed for higher responsibility.

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