Anurag Behar

CEO, Azim Premji Foundation

The Foundation is committed to a vision of “contributing towards a just, equitable, humane and sustainable society”. It runs institutions and programs in India for improving public school education and for other areas of human development.  It also supports not-for-profit organizations that work on matters of equity, justice, and a range of vulnerabilities, through multi-year grants. The Foundation has been set up by Azim Premji with his personal wealth, with an endowment of about Rs 280,000 crores (USD 34 Billion).          

The Foundation’s own Field work is in collaboration with various State governments, to help improve equity and quality of the public education system. This grassroots work is across 7 states of India, which have over 350,000 schools, while the overall work in education is across multiple other states, including significant work on matters of policy and curriculum across the country. The Foundation has also begun its operations in Health and Livelihoods, to serve the most disadvantaged, in some of these regions.  

The Foundation established the not-for-profit Azim Premji University in Bangalore in 2010, and is setting up the second one in Bhopal, with teaching programs from undergraduate to post-graduate level, and a special focus on the fields of Education and Human Development, including extensive research in these fields. A third and fourth Universities are on the anvil – in the eastern and north-eastern parts of India. Anurag was the Founding Vice Chancellor of the Azim Premji University in Bangalore, a role in which he served from 2010 to 2022.

The Foundation supports through multi-year financial grants, not-for-profit organizations that work with the most vulnerable and marginalized people of our society, including, the homeless, persons with disability, women survivors of violence, farmers with marginal landholding, vulnerable tribal communities, and more. Many of these efforts engage in systematic collaboration with State Governments along with the NPOs to address large humanitarian and development challenges, including reducing child malnutrition, preventing human trafficking, improving gram panchayats and welfare delivery, and more. 

Anurag was a member of the drafting Committee of India’s National Education Policy 2020, the first comprehensive education policy for the country, since 1986. He is also a member of the Group constituted by the Government of India in 2021 to develop the National Curricular Frameworks for Schools and Teacher Education. He has been deeply engaged with efforts to improve education in India, for the past twenty years. He has been a vocal advocate for the critical importance of public systems, in particular the public education system. His many years in business have given him an insider’s view in to both the possibilities and limits of markets. He writes widely, including a fortnightly column for the national newspapers Mint & Hindustan, and other publications, and his book ‘A matter of the heart’, paints a grassroots view of education in India.  

Anurag has earlier played leadership roles in business. As the CEO of Wipro Infrastructure Engineering, he led the business from being No. 20 to global leadership in 5 years. He has also been responsible for many corporate functions for Wipro including Brand, Quality and Innovation. He was Wipro’s Chief Sustainability Officer for twenty years, leading the social and ecological initiatives of the Wipro Group. He serves on many boards and government councils, such as the board of the National Centre for Biological Sciences, the Karnataka Higher Education Council, and with the CII’s National Climate Change Council and the Skills Council. 

He has an MBA from XLRI, Jamshedpur and a BE in Electrical & Electronics Engineering from National Institute of Technology, Trichy. Both institutions have honored him with their Distinguished Alumnus award. He was elected as a ‘Young Global Leader’, by the World Economic Forum in 2008. He enjoys long distance running.