Shiv Nadar   

By Nidhi Shrivastava
Name Shiv Nadar
Occupation Businessman, philanthropist and founder of the Shiv Nadar Foundation
Category Business
Country of Residence India

Why we felt he needed to be included in this list: Shiv Nadar founded the Shiv Nadar Foundation, which has played a key role in eradicating illiteracy in India through their numerous academic institutions and programs across India.

Born in 1945 in Tamil Nadu, India, Shiv Nadar graduated with a degree in electrical and electronics engineering from the PSG College of Technology in Coimbatore. His career began in 1967 when he joined Cooper Engineering in Pune. Inspired to start his own business, Nadar, with six of his colleagues from Delhi Cloth and General Mills, started a company that manufactured products designed for the office.

After IBM decided to move out of India, Nadar’s entrepreneurial spirit took advantage of the vacuum that was left and he launched HCL Technologies Limited in 1976 to make personal computers. The first computer was made in 1982. Headquartered in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, it is a multinational information technology service and consulting company.

In 1991, the company entered the software service business. Today, the company has expanded to 42 countries including France, the United States, and Germany. It also has partnerships with several Fortune 1000 firms and provides services to numerous industries including media and entertainment, life sciences and healthcare, aerospace and defense, and travel.

We created the foundation with the purpose of transforming the social fabric by creating leadership academies. While building the foundation, we kept the model of how we would operate the values of integrity, values of passion, values of commitment. They all stay constant. What varies is whether we follow creative philanthropy or corrective philanthropy. What we are doing in the foundation are things that will stand beyond the lives of the founder and way beyond the success as well.

Shiv Nadar Foundation

Despite experiencing accolades of success, Nadar is also one of India’s leading philanthropists. In 1994, he established the Shiv Nadar Foundation to help bridge the socio-economic divide by empowering individuals through education and merit. To date he has donated $662 million US dollars to his foundation.

There are a few institutions and initiatives under the umbrella of the Shiv Nadar Foundation. The SSN College of Engineering or SSN, established in 1996 in Chennai, was the first ever initiative of the foundation to set up an educational institution. Consistently ranked amongst the top 10 private engineering colleges of India, the institution continues to make great strides in the field of higher education. In pursuit of excellence in higher education and research, the SSN institutions (SSN College of Engineering, SSN School of Management, SSN School of Advanced Software Engineering, SSN School of Advanced Career Education, and SSN Research Centre) are known as one of the best for higher education in the country and are known for establishing one of the largest scholarship programs in India. SSN has offered scholarships worth $7 Million US benefiting over 5,000 students, and over 2,000 first-generation learners.

Shiv Nadar University is a philanthropic multi-disciplinary research institution established in 2011, in Greater Noida, Delhi-NCR, offering a range of undergraduate, post-graduate and doctoral programs that focus on an inter-disciplinary research approach to transform students into well-rounded professionals.

Established as the K-12 urban education initiative of the Shiv Nadar Foundation, there are currently three branches of the Shiv Nadar School at Gurgaon, Noida, and Faridabad, in Delhi-NCR. VidyaGyan, another educational initiative launched by the foundation, identifies potential leaders from across 75 districts of Uttar Pradesh and exposes them to a world-class education for free in a fully-residential campus. 

The foundation introduced the Shiksha initiative in 2012 to eradicate illiteracy from India by creating a model which is easy to replicate, scaleable and measurable. The initiative works with the mission to create lifelong learners, by enhancing the learning process and utilizing a technology-enabled learning program. It enhances the classroom environment and equips the teachers with an innovative high-engagement teaching mechanism to boost learning effectiveness and retention among children.

The foundation has changed many lives including the life of Hemlata Sharma who was born in Uchagaon, a remote village in Uttar Pradesh. Sharma grew up in a large family, her father worked as a farmer, and she considered public school education a privilege. Although she was an average student in the beginning, she was one of the lucky few who was selected by the VidyaGyan platform, which provided her with mentorship, academic counseling, and set her academically on par with urban students who had received a good quality education. In Class 11, she was selected to be a US-India Education Scholar. She scored well on her SATs and was awarded a full scholarship to study computer science at Bryn Mawr College, in Pennsylvania.

I am a strong believer in creative philanthropy. It is an approach that allows sustained institutionalized philanthropy for long-term high impact socio-economic transformation. The avenues of transformation can be many but I believe that education has the power to be the single-largest tool for socio-economic transformation. Education empowers individuals and is vital to reap our demographic dividend.

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Most recently, The Shiv Nadar Foundation is working with the Cobalt Blue Foundation on a project that focuses on personality development through art therapy. The foundation is celebrating and reframing new forms of education with unique methods to encourage creativity and development of young minds. Their current project is to create a community which combines the techniques of storytelling, art and cognitive science.

Nadar was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Institute of Company Secretaries of India in 2013. The following year, he received the Golden Peacock Award for Social Leadership in 2014 from the Institute of Directors in India and he was awarded the AIMA Managing India Corporate Citizen Award for his efforts in philanthropy. He was named the Forbes Outstanding Philanthropist of the Year in 2015, and in 2018 he was honoured as Philanthropist of the Year by The Economic Times.

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