To fail is to have dared | Rohini Nilekani
Play • 22 min

In this episode, philanthropist, author, and journalist Rohini Nilekani speaks to India Development Review (IDR) co-founder and CEO, Smarinita Shetty, on why failure needs to be underwritten in the social sector. She talks about the importance of creating a space that normalises failure in the context of nonprofit work, how philanthropists can support failure in practice, and the role they must play to enable growth in the sector.

Rohini Nilekani is chairperson of Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies and co-founder and director of EkStep, a nonprofit education platform. She is also the founder and former chairperson of Arghyam, a foundation she set up in 2001 for sustainable water and sanitation. From 2004 to 2014, she was also the founder–chairperson and chief funder of Pratham Books, a nonprofit children’s publisher. A committed philanthropist, Rohini also sits on the board of trustees of Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), an environmental think tank.

Read more:

1. Read Rohini’s full interview on Failure Files.

2. Read more failure stories on Failure Files.

3. Check out some ideas and tools from Fail Forward to help your organisation take risks, learn, adapt, and fail intelligently.

4. Learn why talking about failure is crucial for growth.

5. Learn more about Rohini Nilekani and her work.

Want to share your failure story? Learn more about what we’re looking for here, and share your pitch/story on

The Failure Files podcast is produced by India Development Review (IDR), an online journal focused on the development sector. IDR publishes cutting-edge ideas, lessons, and insights, written by and for the people working on some of India’s toughest problems. To learn more, visit

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