India Inc: Lending a helping hand

Billionaires and philanthropists went out of their way to help citizens deal with the pandemic

Published: Jan 9, 2021 06:11:38 AM IST
Updated: Jan 9, 2021 12:16:19 PM IST

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More the Merrier

Philanthropist Rohini Nilekani, who donated Rs 47 crore of her personal wealth, feels the rich in India need to open their purses more

Noted philanthropist and chairperson of Arghyam Foundation Rohini Nilekani feels the philanthropy sector changed during the coronavirus pandemic as members of civil society donated generously. However, she is of the opinion that the wealthy need to open their purses even more. Nilekani led the EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List for 2020 among women with a Rs 47-crore donation. Her husband, Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani, is at number 7 with RS 159 crore given to charity. The couple has also signed the Giving Pledge. The 61-year-old had told Forbes India that more wealthy people in India must come forward and say that a portion of their wealth belongs to society. Her foundation looks at water and sanitation issues, while her philanthropic efforts earned her a spot among Forbes Asia’s annual list of Asia’s Heroes of Philanthropy in 2010.

- Kunal Purandare

Read more: Sonu Sood: Playing the Hero Off the Screen 

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Health Is Wealth

The Azim Premji Foundation has committed Rs 1,125 crore for Covid-related causes, with a focus on a sound public health system

According to the EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2020, Azim Premji maintained his top spot from 2019 with Rs 7,904 crore in donations. According to the list, Premji, through the Azim Premji Foundation, Wipro and Wipro Enterprises, committed Rs 1,125 crore towards Covid-19 relief efforts, in addition to their regular philanthropic initiatives. This amounts to Premji having donated Rs 22 crore a day. “The pandemic has made clear that we cannot become an even remotely good society, strong economy or vibrant democracy unless we have a sound public health system. That should be a big priority,” says Anurag Behar, CEO, Azim Premji Foundation. “Covid-19 has revealed in sharp detail that the disadvantaged and disenfranchised have been hurt disproportionately. And their distress continues, so matters such as tribal rights, gender justice, education and environment continue to be important.” The Azim Premji Foundation has worked across 400 districts to tackle the pandemic, involving an on-ground team of about 65,000 people. “This includes our own team members, those of partner organisations, our university alumni and government school teachers that we are engaged with,” Behar says. “The dedication, ingenuity, and courage, of the 65,000 people that I talked about, and many such more whom I am not familiar with, was just incredible. They have been working 24x7, often at risk to their lives.”

Read more: Vikas Khanna: Meals to go before he sleeps

In a note in early December, Premji said that the pandemic has been a sharp reminder that the economy is a part of society and that human wellbeing matters in all its dimensions equally. “The pandemic has also been a magnifying glass for all our structural inequities and injustices, which exclude hundreds of millions of our fellow citizens from a life of basic dignity… It has made clear that while markets and businesses have an irreplaceable role in a society, even more fundamental are the public goods and public systems,” he wrote.

- Jasodhara Banerjee

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Courtesy: Piramal

Art of Giving

Swati Piramal wants India to learn from the West when it comes to donations

As the coronavirus pandemic continued to expose India’s inadequate health care facilities, it became clear that a joint effort was required to tide over the crisis. “The pandemic saw the work of public-private partnerships increasing significantly,” Swati Piramal, vice chairperson, Piramal Group, which runs the Piramal Foundation, told Forbes India in an earlier interview. The Piramal family ranks number 6 on the EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2020, having donated Rs 196 crore in the year. Piramal—who was the first woman in 90 years to be the president of Assocham, the apex chamber of commerce, believes India has a lot to learn from the West when it comes to the art of giving. She says many public health foundations are needed to address future pandemics. 

- Kunal Purandare

Read more: Amit Chandra: Easing the bane of hunger

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