Azim Premji, the Chairman of Wipro, who also happens to be the second richest Indian, is in the news for his charity work. The software tycoon announced that he had donated a whopping USD 21 Billion to his education based charitable arm, the Azim Premji Foundation. The donation includes 67% stake in Wipro, which is valued at around USD 15 Billion, stakes in consumer business Wipro Enterprises and PremjiInvest.
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The Premji Foundation which was setup in the year 2001, works on improving access to primary education across India. Azim Premji’s philanthropic activities focus on improving the lives of underprivileged children who are deprived of an elementary education. The foundation runs a University in Bangalore.
The Azim Premji Foundation in a press conference recently said that novel initiatives of the chairman have overarching vision in contributing towards developing humane, equitable and a sustainable society in India. The Azim Premji Foundation works directly for education and offers support to other non-profit organizations NGOs, working in specific fields by multi-year financial grants.
Azim Premji, hinted to Forbes that he was planning to donate more, by saying “To whom much has been given, much should be expected”. After the recent announcement of a donation, Azim Premji’s fortune which was about USD 22.6 Billion, and placed him at No. 36 in the World’s billionaires list, reduced by a whopping 80% to USD 4.4 Billion. Azim Premji’s family now holds a mere 7% stake in Wipro.
As per the philanthropy report which was released recently by Bain and Company, private philanthropic capital grew 15% between 2014 and 2018, but is still punches way below full potential and shows that ultra rich Indians must start contributing more.
Azim Premji has often said that he draws inspiration to donate from M K Gandhi and his mother’s long involvement with a children’s hospital in Mumbai. Azim Premji started his philanthropic initiatives in 2001 through his foundation with an initial endowment of Wipro shares. This was worth USD 125 million. He followed it up with subsequent donations worth more than USD 4 Billion. His recent contribution would help the foundation in several ways.
The foundation has funded Azim Premji University, which has about 1,300 students. Pupils in the university are trained mainly to work in the social sector, this is set to expand with a much bigger campus and another university in the state of Madhya Pradesh.
Another important program of the foundation is the involvement with over 2,00,000 public schools spread across India. The foundation does not run any school on its own, but has deployed a field force of around 1,600 to help schools upgrade the curriculum, train faculty and so on.
In 2014, the foundation broadened its horizon by issuing multi-year grants to non government organizations involved in tackling a wide range of societal issues like domestic violence, malnourishment in underprivileged children, farmer’s welfare and so on. The foundation insists on a five-fold increase in such grants over the next decade.
Premji inherited his father’s vegetable oil company and transformed it into a global software giant. In spite of being so rich, Azim Premji still flies economy class, doesn’t own posh cars and doesn’t show off his wealth. He is one of the most humble and philanthropic tycoons in the World.
Wipro consumer care has businesses spread across toiletries, soaps, baby care products, personal care products, wellness products, electrical wiring devices, domestic lighting, commercial lighting and modular office furniture. Wipro Consumer Care has a strong presence with a considerable market share in specific segments. In addition, they have a very strong presence in the personal care and skin care products market across Middle East and Southeast Asia.
Azim Premji’s contribution to the philanthropic cause is well known. His most recent donation of giving away Wipro shares valued at Rs 53,000 Crores puts him in the league of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.
Azim Premji’s overall endowment towards philanthropy is almost twice the amount that Indian private sector raised for social causes over the last five years.
Majority of India’s private funding towards the social sector comes from individual donors like Azim Premji. If you remove Azim Premji’s contributions, then you see that individual philanthropy from the ultra-rich, declines by nearly 4 percent for the last five years, as per the Bain and Company’s India Philanthropy Report 2019.
While the contribution from Premji is certainly big, it’s not big enough when compared to the needs of India’s social sector. To achieve at least five of the thirty sustainable developmental goals by 2030, zero hunger, good health, quality education, gender equality and clean water a higher contribution is required. To achieve this, India needs Rs 26 Lakh Crores annually. This means India needs more and more Azim Premji’s to come forth and do their bit. At the same time, India doesn’t have a dearth of ultra rich. As per a recent Knight Frank report, India would churn out the most number of ultra rich with net assets worth more than USD 30 million over the next five years. It would be interesting to see how many of these upcoming ultra rich, follow Azim Premji.
The ultra rich must draw philanthropic inspiration from the chairman of Wipro, Azim Premji. They must follow his footsteps in developing India and making it a super power in the next five years.
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