Dr. Rajiv Shah, President, Rockefeller Foundation
Image: Forbes India
Rockefeller Foundation’s President Rajiv Shah has “big bets” and high hopes for India’s future endeavours on positive philanthropic, climatic, and inclusive changes.
As per Shah, if India and other nations work together, stretch themselves more than they otherwise would, think of philanthropy less as doing a little bit of charity with those who are left behind and more as making investments in alliances and bringing technology and resources to those who have the dignity and capacity to lift themselves up, "India can not only be the world's richest economy in 2047 but it can be the world's most inclusive."
Shah, whose leadership has had an impact on public health and the integration of data and technology to make it accessible to far-flung corners of the world, has contributed to shaping the global vaccine industry, and has addressed various challenges such as the refugee crisis, food insecurity, the pandemic, and climate change.
The Rockefeller Foundation, which is committed to scientific philanthropy, has had a 110-year old commitment to India, from which the country has benefitted in a number of areas such as the green revolution, climatic research and development, the Covid crisis, and the upliftment of the poor and vulnerable people.
“Philanthropy can play a tremendous role in reshaping the societies in which we live, making them more just, making them more inclusive, and making them live up to the ultimate Gandhian principle that every person should be treated with dignity and be given an opportunity,” Shah said in his keynote address at the 12th Forbes India Leadership Awards (FILA 2023) ceremony in Mumbai on March 24.
The former administrator of the United States Agency for International Development mentioned the “big bets” that his foundation has committed to, which will benefit India and the rest of the world to overcome various significant problems that need immediate attention. The first is ending under-five child mortality around the world; second, addressing the hunger crisis; and the third, ending energy poverty that is defined by the fact that 770 million people, nearly half of whom live in India, don't have enough energy to allow for productive living.
During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the foundation issued its first social impact bond and raised a billion dollars, half of which it committed towards the ‘Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet.’ This “energy technology revolution”, as per Shah, aims to end energy poverty for one billion people around the world, reduce four billion metric tons of carbon emissions, and create 150 million new green jobs that give people dignity, hope and the ability to lift up their families.
“We see tremendous opportunity for solar, wind, hydro and other renewable energies to be applied to solve problems that people have faced for many decades”, Shah said. Also read: Isha Ambani wins GenNext Entrepreneur award at Forbes India Leadership Awards 2023
In December 2022, RK Singh, union minister for power, and new and renewable energy, launched the “Transmission System for Integration of over 500 GW RE Capacity by 2030”, which is a step towards achieving the integration of 500 GW of non-fossil fuel based capacity by 2030. “We have set the goal with ourselves and our Indian counterparts to ensure that some appropriate share of the renewable energy technology revolution reaches those who are otherwise left behind – those whom the grid does not reach, those who depend on diesel to run operations and pay 50, 60, 70 cents a kilowatt hour to do so when we can provide them solar based energy at 15 or 20 cents a kilowatt hour and save and change their livelihoods”, said Shah.
“After a week in India I have come away incredibly optimistic about the potential of this great nation,” says Shah.