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Rohini Nilekani is Founder-Chairperson, Arghyam, a foundation she endowed to fund initiatives for sustainable water and sanitation across India. From 2004 to 2014, she was Founder-Chairperson of Pratham Books, a non-profit children’s publisher. She is Co-founder-Director of EkStep, a non-profit education platform.
A former journalist writing for leading publications, she is also the author of “Stillborn” and “Uncommon Ground”, both published by Penguin Books India. In 2017, she was inducted as Foreign Honorary Member of the AmericanAcademy of Arts and Sciences.
As signatories of the Giving Pledge, Rohini and Nandan Nilekani have committed half their wealth to philanthropy.
Popularly known as the Clothing Man and the recipient of 2015 Ramon Magsaysay award, Anshu Gupta founded Goonj with a mission to highlight some basic but ignored needs of people on the development agenda, using clothing as a metaphor. Anshu studied mass communication apart from doing a Masters in Economics and started as a freelance journalist. He left a corporate communication job in 1998 and initiated Goonj. Under his leadership Goonj has taken the alarming growth of urban waste and turned it into a tool to trigger large scale work on various rural development issues. An Ashoka and Schwab Fellow for entrepreneurship, Anshu is creatively and flexibly matching and seamlessly weaving urban surplus into the changing priorities & realities of rural marginalized communities. He has built the genesis of a parallel trash based economy by creating barter between efforts of rural communities and urban surplus material as two new currencies.
Using the discard of the cities and efforts and knowledge of the poor as a new resource for eliminating poverty, Anshu’s work offers the world a sustainable economic model. By prioritizing the dignity of the receiver and putting the decision making back into their hands. Anshu has also added ‘dignity’ as an important lens to define development for people.
Under Anshu’s leadership Goonj has done massive disaster relief and rehab work pan India, turning every disaster into an opportunity to reach resources and attention to the most ignored communities. Listed by the Forbes magazine as one of India’s most powerful rural entrepreneurs, Anshu and Goonj have received a series national and international
recognition on innovation, entrepreneurship, governance and public service including World Bank’s development Market place award, Changemakers Innovation award to Jamnalal Bajaj Award for Fair Business Practices.
A foody, an entrepreneur, a thinker, a doer, an avid traveler, photographer and a journalist by heart, Anshu often pens prose and poetry, giving vent to his feelings and opinions on the issues that bother him about the world around him. The citation of 2015 Magsaysay award, popularly known as the Noble Prize of Asia conferred on him says- “The Board of Trustees recognizes his creative vision in transforming the culture of giving in India, his enterprising leadership in treating cloth as a sustainable development resource for the poor, and in reminding the world that true giving always respects and preserves human dignity.”
Nalini Shekar is the co-founder of Hasiru Dala, an organization of wastepickers in Bangalore. She is also a co-founder of Kagad Kach Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP), a union of wastepickers in Pune in 1997. Before coming back to India, she worked on the issue of violence against women for over a decade in the USA.
Her main focus in Hasiru Dala is on the inclusion of wastepickers and other waste workers in the informal waste economy in the Solid Waste Management systems of Urban Local Bodies across Karnataka. Hasiru Dala is working on organising and skilling wastepickers to provide services in the waste management sector. Facilitation of access to social security entitlement offered by the government is another major goal of the organisation.
Nalini was awarded the Kempegowda Award in 2015 from the City of Bangalore, the “Vasundara Mitra” Award 2016 by Kirloskar Ferrous Industries Limited, and Jijabai Award from Shivaji College, Delhi University 2017. She was chosen as one of 100 women in India who make a difference in the society by BBC.com, and received several awards in the USA for her work with immigrants and women survivors of violence.