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Six Indians in Forbes Asia's 2017 Heroes of Philanthropy list

List features notable givers in the news and also recognises those with a long record for giving

Salil Panchal
Published: Jun 29, 2017 01:42:39 PM IST
Updated: Jun 29, 2017 07:44:58 PM IST

Six Indians in Forbes Asia's 2017 Heroes of Philanthropy listLeft to Right: Sanjay Lalbhai, chairman and managing director of Arvind Limited; Subhash Chandra, chairman of Essel Group; Anand Mahindra, chairman of the Mahindra Group

Forbes Asia on Thursday announced its annual Heroes of Philanthropy list for 2017, highlighting some of the region’s most prominent givers. It honoured 40 philanthropists from 14 countries across Asia Pacific, which included six Indians.

The list, instituted in 2008, not only features philanthropists who have made the news with their donations in the past year but also recognises those with a long record of supporting worthy causes. Honorees include billionaires, businesspeople and celebrities who are making a mark with their generosity, a Forbes Asia press statement says.

The Indians featured in the latest list are Sanjeev Bikhchandani, founder and executive vice chairman of Info Edge (India); Subhash Chandra, chairman of Essel Group; Sanjay Lalbhai, chairman and managing director of Arvind Limited; Anand Mahindra, chairman of the Mahindra Group; Muthalampet Mahadevan, chairman of Oriental Cuisines and Rajiv Mehta, managing director of Surat Diamond Jewellery.

In the case of Chandra, he and his three brothers pledged $777 million (Rs 5,000 crore) in May to their DSC Foundation, to mark the 90th anniversary of the Essel Group. Its activities include funding social entrepreneurs. Simultaneously, Chandra also set up Sarthi, a non-profit firm which would connect citizens with the government.

Chandra has given away millions through Ekal Global, his 28-year-old charity that has provided free education to 1.4 million tribal children in 55,000 villages.

Sixty-two year Lalbhai, a textile magnate and his wife, Jayshree, converted their more-than-a-century-old ancestral mansion in Ahmedabad city into an art museum, which is now free to the public, says John Koppish in his article which appears in Forbes Asia’s July 2017 issue.

The museum includes such treasures as Mughal miniatures and a 16th-century Persian manuscript from the library of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.

Anand Mahindra is also a prominent name, having donated millions of dollars over the years to causes such as educating girls, providing clean drinking water and supporting tribal farmers. He chairs the Naandi Foundation, which has spawned three for-profit social businesses—a JV with Danone, to put up clean drinking water community centers across different parts of India; a partnership with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation which offers afterschool support to students in city slums through a technology platform. The third, Araku, works with tribal farmers convert wasteland into plantations producing premium coffee.

Another Indian to feature in the list is restaurateur Muthalmapet Mahadevan who started the Swiss bakery Writers’ Café in Chennai, where a third of the staffers are burn victims. The profits of the nonprofit organisation trains these burn victims as bakers. Mahadevan, Koppish writes, plans to set up a second café, at the Spastic Society of Tamil Nadu, which supports children with cerebral palsy.

For the first time, philanthropists from Myanmar and Vietnam made it to the list.

The Forbes Asia issue features former Chinese basketball superstar Yao Ming on its July 2017 cover.
Through his Yao Foundation, which has an annual budget of around $2.5 million, Yao Ming equips and trains students in sports at schools in remote areas of China with no physical education programmes. The foundation also organises local and regional competitions for these children that culminates in a weekend of playoffs, all-star events and a chance to meet Yao Ming himself.

More information on the list can be found here and in the July issue of Forbes Asia.

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