Lifetime Achievement Awards

Skoch Challenger Award 2015 - Yashwant Sinhaalt

View Biographical Film: Mr Yashwant Sinha, Former Finance Minister Government of India

India is promising an ambitious, third-generation economic and governance reform agenda. This should be the time to remember those who strove hard to illuminate the path of the country’s first and second generation of economic and governance reforms. Since the dynamics of the reforms were set in motion in the early 1990s, very few politicians conveyed their commitment to them in clear, unmistakable language and action than Yashwant Sinha. The former civil servant entered politics in the 1980s and went on to serve as the country’s Finance Minister twice between 1990-2002. He had also served as the External Affairs Minister from 2002-04. As India’s reforms process gathered momentum, Sinha's second stint as Finance Minister was one of the most consequential in reshaping and reorienting India's economic policy. He is credited with pushing through several major reform measures, from disinvestment and deregulation of the public sector, infrastructure development to an overhaul of the taxation system. Notable among them were lowering real interest rates, introducing tax deduction for mortgage interest, freeing up the telecommunications sector that brought about the mobile phone revolution in the country and deregulating the petroleum industry. He singlehandedly managed the states to agree to VAT. He even defined India’s competition policy, which resulted in birth of Competition Commission of India years later. He liberalised India’s capital markets, which was accompanied by a major effort to simplify central government taxes by reducing exemptions and deductions and unifying and reducing rates. He is also known as the author of the Fiscal Responsibility & Budget Management Act, a path-breaking law that imposed legal limits on government deficits.

Skoch Challenger Award 2014 - Deepak Parekhalt

View Biographical Film - Deepak Parekh (Making Homes, Building India)

Deepak Parekh is a man with a mission. He may well be the man who has steered HDFC to the pinnacle of mortgage success in India and it becoming a conglomerate with presence in banking, asset management, life insurance, general insurance, real estate venture fund and education Loans. He along with his special team proved to be an efficient crisis manager by prudently steering Satyam Computer Services — at the centre of the country’s largest-ever corporate crisis. About customer care, Deepak has a very interesting word – ‘affection’. This philosophy trickles all the way down to each of HDFC group employee dealing with a customer, the number of which stands at over 35 million today. HDFC is the largest mortgage lender in India with 4.6 million middle-class families having availed housing loan. His commitment to serve India is apparent, as the group has desisted from opening any significant branch network abroad as ‘there is enough work to do in India’. The cornerstone of his philosophy is, if a company earns, it must also return to the society and companies owe a responsibility not just to shareholders but also to all its stakeholders. HDFC, under his guidance supports several social initiatives in the areas of education, child welfare, medical, and welfare for the elderly and the differently abled among several others. Having built an institution, Deepak is humble, as he believes that during the first 25 years a person should learn, earn for the next 25 and return back to the society for the remaining years of his/her life.

Skoch Challenger Award 2013 - Nandan Nilekanialt

View Biographical Film : Nandan Nilekani -Imagining India - Ideas for the New Century

Humility, generosity, compassion and commitment are a few words that describe Nandan Nilekani. Born in a middle class family, he grew as a fine professional to lead India’s largest IT company – Infosys. But his hunger to serve the country did not satiate. He is perhaps one of the largest donors to IITMumbai that helped build the School of IT, hostels etc. but chooses to remain silent about it. It is equally difficult to find mention of half-a-billion rupees donation to Indian Institute for Human Settlement. Still, he always imagined of doing more and to start with captured his thoughts in the book – Imagining India.

His dream of each citizen having an ID turned true when he was put in the drivers seat for providing an identity to each resident of India. Nandan started from scratch and put together a committed team. Having no experience of working in the government, he steered the project through thick and thin, political opposition, policy roadblocks, facing media, civil society and disparate interests but stayed firm and continued to wade through steadily and undeterred, calming all opposition. The government now plans to use Aadhaar for direct benefits transfer using bank accounts thus in the process spurring financial inclusion. Using Aadhaar, a number of states have identified a significant number of bogus beneficiaries.

For the first time in the history of India, the beneficiary databases are being updated and cleaned. There is hope for actual beneficiaries to receive real benefits. LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT Nandan Nilekani

Given away by Mr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Hon’ble Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission; and, Dr C Rangarajan, Hon’ble Chairman, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister on 25th Day of March 2013 at New Delhi.

Skoch Challenger Award 2012 -  P Chidambaramalt
View Biographical Film : P Chidambaram-A View from the Inside

P Chidambaram is a rare combination of political maturity coupled with intellectual brilliance. He has the capacity to address any issue logically and consistently. His outstanding performance as a Commerce Minister, Finance Minister and Home Minister is a testimony to that. His first love though, remains law.

s Commerce Minister he dismantled various controls over imports and brought down the import duty very drastically. EXIM scrips were introduced by which additional premium was payable to the exporters. India moved towards the reform of exchange rate regime.

He introduced moderate rates of taxation that resulted in a rise of tax-GDP ratio. His term as Finance Minister saw the highest rise in growth rates in the Indian economy.

Chidambaram had the courage to notify Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act. He rationalized the tax administration side by underlining the importance of information technology and introduced the requirement that companies have to file electronically.

He played an important role in introducing VAT. He ensured that tax administration is simple, straightforward and moving towards a system in which the rates are low, base is wider and exemptions are limited. The Direct Tax Code was completely re-written by him to become simple and easy to understand.

Chidambaram is keen on financial inclusion and believes in a banking system that is commercially viable. The big slew of items which began with Bharat Nirman programmes in terms of extending the reach of credit, rural road connectivity, improved access to agriculture and farming, many initiatives in the areas of education and health, all suggest that he was clearly seeking not only high rates of growth but seeking a more egalitarian society.

Given away by Mr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Hon’ble Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission and Dr C Rangarajan, Hon’ble Chairman, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister on 27th Day of March 2012 at New Delhi.

Skoch Challenger Award 2011 - Montek Singh Ahluwalia   View Biographical Film

A key figure in India’s economic reforms from the early 1980s onwards, Montek Singh Ahluwalia’s fingerprints can be found in policies in every sphere, ranging from economics to education reforms. He has been a driving force in the liberalization programme of the past 20 years or more. Having studied in St Stephen’s, this Oxford-educated economist as a Rhodes Scholar, has spent 11 years with the World Bank in Washington before returning to India in 1979 to work as an economic adviser to the government. After having been adviser to IMF as the first Director of the Independent Evaluation Office, he returned again to become Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission. Importantly, his work has shaped economic policy making in India. Decisions like broadbanding of licenses, deregulation, and several such measures were taken during his tenure as Finance Secretary leading the country on to a path of economic liberalization. His commitment to poverty alleviation and inclusive growth can be found in his early writings as long ago as 1970s and as Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission currently, he has managed to translate this into the country’s Plan process from the 11th Plan onwards. Team Skoch has observed his contributions since 2005 and has had the privilege of interacting with him ever since.

Given away by the hands of Dr C Rangarajan,Hon’ble Chairman, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister on this 25th Day of March 2011 at New Delhialt

Skoch Challenger Award 2010 - Vijay L Kelkar  View Biographical Film : Vijay L Kelkar | India on the Growth Turnpike


In a remarkable, 33 year-long career in public policy, Dr. Vijay Kelkar has been one of the key players in the vanguard of India’s economic reforms, making lasting contributions in shaping the development of the economy to this day. His uniqueness lies in the fact that even after his retirement, both the public and private sectors continue to vie for his talent. Among his early contributions was India’s trade policy, as member secretary of the committee that drew up the roadmap for reform of the policy. From that time to his last responsibility of chairing the 13th Finance Commission, causes espoused by Dr. Kelkar exhibited his deep understanding of and dedication to the forces of growth and development. His core competence, however, remains prices and fiscal reform, where he has made waves through petroleum price reform, tax committee recommendations, the Fiscal Reform and Budget Management Act, and now the far-reaching 13th Finance Commission report.

Given away by Dr C Rangarajan, Hon’ble Chairman, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister on this 18th day of March 2010, at New Delhi.alt

Skoch Challenger Award 2009 - Sam Pitroda  View Biographical Film : Sam Pitroda - A Dreamer


For a man who had never even used a telephone till he was 22 years old, Satyanarayan Gangaram Pitroda, better known as Sam Pitroda, is credited with bringing the telecom and IT revolution to India. He left a reasonably successful business in the US to come back to India to serve the country. Through his mantra of indigenous manufacturing, shared access, rural telephony and using the power of young talent, he made the rural telephone exchange and the Public Call Office – PCO - at every nook and corner of India happen. He was the founding father of Centre for Development of Telematics – C-Dot. Competition from C-Dot ensured India getting one of the cheapest costs per phone line from global companies. He laid the foundation of the new telecom policy and brought in modern management practices through technology missions. He was instrumental in helping kick-start software exports from India and providing economies of scale to computer manufacturing in India. He served India at a great personal cost. On behalf of the ordinary people of India, we salute the extraordinary work of Sam Pitroda through the Skoch Challenger Lifetime Achievement Award.

Given on this 23rd day of January 2009 at New Delhi, by the hands of Mr Wajahat Habibullah, Hon’ble Chief Information Commissioner of India. alt

Skoch Challenger Awards 2008 View Film


 The Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) focuses on issues of transparency in public works. Located in the village of Devdungri, near Bhim in Rajsamand district of Rajasthan, MKSS has only a handful of dedicated workers. But that hasn’t hindered its successful campaign for public right to information. It all started with MKSS demanding access to Panchayat records on the plea that that there had to be transparency in the use of taxpayers’ money for public welfare programmes. Over time, a process called ‘social audit’ – connoting comprehensive review of expenditure and asset creation from public work programmes – has been institutionalised. What started as a movement to bring in transparency in the functioning of a Panchayat later snowballed into a national movement and legislation of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The MKSS is now working on social audits with the Andhra Pradesh government, and has so far helped recover nearly Rs 7 million. A Skoch team attended one of the social audits in Devdungri recently. alt

Skoch Challenger Award 2007 - Dr C Rangarajan, Chairman, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister alt

View Biographical Film : The Philosopher King

Dr C Rangarajan is a leading economist of the country, who has played a key role both as an academician and a policy maker. Currently Chairman, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, he was also Chairman of the 12th Finance Commission. He was Governor of Andhra Pradesh between 1997 and 2003.

As Governor, Reserve Bank of India during 1992-97, he was instrumental in steering the country through Balance of Payments crisis. He initiated far reaching reforms in India’s financial sector to make banks competitive and efficient. These included deregulation of interest rates, introduction of prudential norms and credit regulation, shifting to market determined exchange rate system, making the rupee convertible on the current account and the cessation of the automatic monetization of the budget deficit.

As Chairman of the 12th Finance Commission, he brought about a paradigm shift in fiscal federalism, reinforced the imperative of fiscal responsibility for growth and poverty reduction and defined a framework for fiscal adjustment at the centre and in the states.
It was, Dr Rangarajan who introduced computerization in banking system.  Despite facing resistance from trade unions, he went ahead and made it mandatory, starting with RBI followed by banks. He also took the bold decision of opening up bank accounts for women Self Help Groups. This was when many said – don’t do it!  Today there are more than 2 million Self Help Groups with bank accounts. Due to his commitment and his deep foresight, Dr Rangarajan was recently appointed Chairman of the Committee on Financial Inclusion.

He was a Member of the Planning Commission in 1992. A teacher at heart, Dr Rangarajan was for over a decade and half, Professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad before he took up the position of Deputy Governor at RBI.alt

Skoch Challenger Award 2006 - Mr. C. B. Bhave, CMD, NSDL  View Biographical Film : C. B. Bhave


A 1975-batch IAS officer of the Maharashtra Cadre was an executive director in charge of the secondary markets at SEBI, Mr C B Bhave set the markets afire when he managed to persuade all market players to agree to accept the new system of trading in dematerialized shares or debentures.  This resulted in setting up of a National Securities Depository Limited or NSDL. Today there are over 7.5 million depositors who have accounts with NSDL, with over 538 billion dollars worth of securities dematted. India has been the fastest to implement paperless trading. With such a track record, it is hardly surprising Mr Bhave’s NSDL has been chosen to implement the Tax Information Network for the Finance Ministry. Mr Bhave is  now playing a crucial role in introducing reforms in tax administration.

Mr. C. B. Bhave, CMD, NSDL receiving the Skoch Challenger Award for Lifetime Achievement from Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyer, Honorable Minister of Panchayati Rajalt

Skoch Challenger Award 2005 - Dr R H Patil. Chairman, CCIL  View Biographical Film : R H Patil


Dr Patil has been instrumental in changing the face of the Indian stock markets. Apart from helping to set up the National Stock Exchange that handles more than 10,000 crores a day at transaction costs that are a tenth of what they were a decade back. He helped set up National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL), introducing paperless trading and killing the problem of fake share certificates. Dr Patil also set up the Clearing Corporation of India that handles forex trading that has already brought the costs down by half.

Dr R H Patil. Chairman, CCIL receiving the Skoch Challenger Award for Lifetime Achievement from Mr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia. Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission. alt

Skoch Challenger Award 2004 - Dr. D.B Phatak, Professor, KReSIT View Biographical Film : D.B Phatak


While our IT Man of the Year Ajai Chowdhry was lobbying the government to cut excise and other duties on computers, Dr D.B. Phatak of the Kanwal Rekhi School of IT in the IIT Mumbai, was finding a technical solution to the same problem. Over 80 per cent of a computer's computing capability, he argued, is never used. So, why not aggregate all the excess computing capacity in one place in an office, he argued. And from this was born the concept of the 'thin client-fat server' - have individual networked PCs with very little computing power, and let them dip into the main server to do all computing.

 But, while that's theoretically appealing, does it work in practice, doesn't work in the office slow down dramatically.. the questions keep rolling. To answer this, Dr Phatak set up an Affordable Solutions Lab at the IIT Mumbai, and actually got companies to test what he was preaching. Today, the LIC has bought 10,000 thin computers and saved about Rs 10 crores. While the amount looks small in real terms, when you see it in terms of the original budget, the figure's significant, especially when the project gets scaled up.

Today, as testimonial after testimonial will tell you, Dr Phatak's associated with most big computing projects, right from SBI's modernization to the Maharashtra government's e-governance initiatives. Maharashtra's IT secretary Mukesh Khullar, for example, talks of two projects - to link 972 police stations across the state and another to allow e-filing of returns by assesses - and points out that had it not been for Dr Phatak's innovative solutions, the projects would have become so costly, they'd never have taken off.

And, apart from just coming up with technical solutions, Dr Phatak keeps visiting sites of projects he's working on, to figure out glitches. An SBI funds e-transfer solution he came up with several years ago just didn't seem to work until, a visit by him showed, branch officials were still waiting for a couriered copy of the transfer-request even after they received it on the mail! Dr Phatak is currently on a sabbatical, preaching the gospel of affordable solutions to those who haven't yet seen the light. May his tribe increase

Dr. D.B Phatak, Professor, KReSIT receiving the Skoch Challenger Award for Lifetime Achievement from Dr. S. Narayan, Economic Advisor to Prime Minister of India.