November 2010
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Indian Biz Laders advocate inclusive Growth

Bangalore: This is the time to think wise, act and influence. That is the message sent across from the 40 U.S. billionaires, led by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, who signed the "giving pledge" to donate half their fortunes to charity. This great act of generosity, in other words called Corporate Social Responsibility is an extension of sharing the success with society in which they work.

As the wave of Philanthrocapitalism spreading across the world and reaching the Indian subcontinent, the question on the sleepy nature of Indian Corporate Social Responsibility remains unanswered. A March 2010 study by Bain & Company found that Indians collectively donate 0.6 percent of their country's GDP to charity. Just 10 percent of charitable giving in India comes from individuals or companies. The major source of Indian charity is the government. India's population of high-net-worth individuals rose by 51 percent in 2009 and these figures provoke the world, especially the West, to call for more philanthropic efforts from India's top class.

The so-called popularized prejudice about the lack of philanthropic efforts among the Indian industrialists should be questioned with the fact that many Indians like Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Anu Aga, Kiran Nadar, Rohini Nilekani, Azim Premji, Sunil Mittal and Anil Agarwal were among the top philanthropists listed by Forbes.

As the Indian economy is experiencing new heights of progress and development, Indian philanthropic approaches are also changing in a larger way. Adi Godrej, Chairman of the Godrej Group, a passionate philanthropist said, "If you look at the amount of philanthropy in India compared to the size of the economy, you'll see that it is growing."

"It is not that lndian billionaires donate less than their Western counterparts not because they care less, but because the channels for giving are fewer and, more often than not, riddled with corruption," says Emily Harrison, founder of Innovaid, a Mumbai-based consultancy company for high net-worth individuals.

Shiv Nadar, the founder of HCL has committed to donate 10 percent of his wealth for philanthropic causes and said he will focus about 40 percent of his time on social ventures.

Being the president of Dhirubhai Ambani Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Reliance Industries, Nita Ambani reaches out to millions of underprivileged children and provides them adequate educational opportunities. The foundation also runs many hospitals to in an effort to lessen the suffering of the fellow countrymen.

Azim Premji, the Chairman of Wipro, rather named as the Bill Gates of India stated that all of his wealth won't go to his children and the multi-million-dollar Azim Premji foundation strives to improve the quality of primary education in the country.

Earlier this year, Infosys Technologies chief mentor Narayana Murthy and his family donated $5.2 million to Harvard University to establish a new publication series called The Murthy Classical Library of India. The Infosys Foundation guided by Sudha Murthy, spends millions on rural development and social rehabilitation in India.

Vineet Nayyar, Managing Director of Tech Mahindra donated a third of his shares in the company worth over  30 crore to a Delhi-based charitable organization.

In other recent philanthropic initiatives, the Nilekanis have donated $5 million for the Yale India Initiative and Ratan Tata gave $50 million to Cornell which will contribute to advances in nutrition and agriculture for India.
Although not so publicized, there is a paradigm shift that results in improved sense of philanthropic efforts among the India industrialists. Taking into account our population and the diverse needs of the society, we need more such generous hands coming forward. The aim, as Bill Clinton rightly said, is that our interdependent world is too unequal, too unstable, and, because of climate change, unsustainable. We have to transform it into one of shared responsibilities, shared opportunities, and a shared sense of community.


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