During the early days of the unique identification project, its chairman Nandan Nilekani once got a strange request from a taxi driver outside an airport – don’t issue an Aadhaar card to a fellow cabbie as he was rash driving.
Nilekani along with his wife Rohini was crossing a pedestrian walkway at the airport when a car heedlessly rushed by, forcing them to jump back to the pavement.
As they were recovering from the shock, a taxi driver nearby shouted: ”Sir aap usko Aadhaar card mat dena (Sir, don’t issue him an Aadhaar card.” This amusing incident finds mention in Rohini’s new book ”Samaaj, Sarkaar, Bazaar: A Citizen-First Approach”, which is slated for release on August 4.
In the book, she stresses on the need for a dynamic balance among the three sectors of society, state and markets as she showcases her learnings from her civic engagement and philanthropy work of over three decades.
”If we forget that we are members of society first and foremost, and instead see ourselves as mere beneficiaries of the state or as mere consumers of the market in search of a better material life, then we endanger the foundational supremacy of ‘samaaj’. And that inevitably will endanger our own interest over time, both as individuals and as communities,” Rohini writes.
She says her book is an invitation to thinkers, researchers, writers, civic leaders, and all citizens to join the important public discourse around the changing role of these three sectors.
She advocates that the quest for a good society begins with positioning ‘samaaj’ as the foundational sector in order to keep the state and markets accountable to the wider public interest.
”Given the complex societal problems of contemporary India, we need all three sectors to work in tandem and with mutual respect,” she writes in the book.
According to Rohini, she has penned this book as a concerned citizen and not as a scholar.
From her early work on the responsibilities of citizens, the issues within the justice system, and the challenges of sustainability to the potential offered by the digital age along with key takeaways from the Covid pandemic, she discusses the intricate equilibrium between the state, society, and markets.
The self-published book will be available at select bookstores and e-commerce platforms. Any proceeds will go to the civil society organisations that Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies supports. It will also be freely available on www.samaajsarkaarbazaar.in.
Rohini has previously authored books like ”Stillborn” and ”Uncommon Ground” besides several children’s works.