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Nandan Nilekani files nomination from Bangalore South

By The Assam Tribune

Bangalore, March 21 (IANS): Multi-billionaire Infosys co-founder and Congress candidate Nandan Nilekani Friday filed his nomination to contest from the Bangalore South constituency in the Lok Sabha polls.

Nilekani, who declared assets valued at a whopping Rs.7,770 crore (Rs.78 billion) along with wife Rohini, will be challenged by five-time Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) winner Ananth Kumar and social activist Lila Naik of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the crucial contest from an upscale suburb of this tech hub.

Elections across Karnataka will be held April 17.

"It (asset creation) all started with Rs.200 in my pocket when I graduated from IIT-Mumbai in the late 1970s. Then, we co-founded Infosys with just Rs.10,000 in 1981. Building a successful company from scratch has made us create assets worth Rs.7,700 crore," Nilekani said in a statement here.

Infosys chairman N.R. Narayana Murthy, vice-chairman S. Gopalakrishnan, chief executive S.D. Shibulal, former directors N.S. Raghavan and Dinesh were the other five co-founders of the $7.4 billion global software major.

Admitting that about 80 percent of their wealth was in the form of Infosys' shares, (with a notional value determined by the stock market), Nilekani said he still owned 1.45 percent (8.35 million shares) of the equity, while Rohini had 1.3 percent (7.5 million shares).

The IT bellwether's blue chip share of Rs.5 on par value ended Thursday at Rs.3,303 on the Bombay Stock Exchange.

"This wealth was created while Infosys brought lakhs of jobs to Bangalore. The company also shared a lot of wealth with its employees through stock options," Nilekani recalled.

Observing that the wealth the global firm brought had given him freedom to do what he wanted to, the former Unique Identification Authority of India chairman said he would now like to give millions of people the opportunities he had.

"The Infosys story has inspired a generation of young Indians to start something on their own, to take risks that created wealth for the country, as well as millions of new jobs," Nilekani said.

Since 1999, Nilekani and Rohini have donated about Rs.400 crore to various causes and charities.

"I have worked in the social sector for 15 years and was able to spend some money on philanthropy with the amount I got through sale of the shares," Rohini said.

The celebrity couple have also prioritised key areas in their philanthropy -- water, governance, education.

"I am proud that my wealth is transparent. I have not made any money illegally, or hid it in investments outside the country. Nothing is hidden in someone else's bank account and its all tax-paid," the 58-year-old techno geek said.

Stressing on the importance of dreaming big and doing big, Nilekani said every Indian has a dream for India and a vision for what the country should be.

"Each of us should do what we can, with what we have, to make a difference, and get us a little closer to what we envision," Nilekani added.

In contrast, Ananth Kumar Wednesday declared in his nomination papers he had Rs.75,000 in cash and a bank balance of Rs.6.39 lakh, while his wife Tejaswani had Rs.1 lakh in cash and a bank balance of Rs.1.42 lakh.

However, Tejaswani owns properties in the city valued at Rs.3.6 crore. Both of them also have LIC policies worth Rs.22 lakh and Rs.13 lakh while daughter Vijeta has a life insurance policy of Rs.4.33 lakh.

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