Home PHILANTHROPY The Changing Dynamics Of Philanthropy

The Changing Dynamics Of Philanthropy


India, with its rich diversity and history is no stranger to the concept of philanthropy. Individuals in the country have come forward time and again sharing their resources (wealth, knowledge and time).

Historically, India like many Asian countries has a close-knitted culture known for having a rich social heritage. The mythological example of ‘Karna’ also called ‘Danveer Karna’ from Mahabharata, the warrior who gave away his impenetrable armour is a testimony to the fact.

Anil Naik, Chairman of the $16-billion engineering conglomerate Larsen & Toubro is the latest entrant to the group. He has pledged to devote 75% of his lifetime income for charity. He has set up two charitable trusts, Naik Charitable Trust for education and skill training and Nirali Memorial Medical Trust. According to Economic Times, It is not the first time Anil has come forward for sharing his wealth. In 1995, he had donated Rs 125 crore to a hospital in his native village in Gujarat, which was his first donation.

India is home to an estimate of 250 individuals and more who have a personal net-worth of more than $300 million each as per Hurun Indian Philanthropy List 2015.  With a lot being done, let us look at few of the notable philanthropists in the country:

1. Indian IT industry is well known worldwide, it is not possible to forget Azim Premji, informally called Czar of the Indian IT industry. He is the country’s biggest individual donor contributing Rs 27,514 crore towards improving primary education. Azim Premji Foundation works with state governments, state and district institutes, and also is engaged in research that will help future policy making.

Azim Premji
Azim Premji

2. Nandan and Rohini Nilekani are the second biggest individual donors in the country. The couple, which come from middle a class family background believe in giving back to society. Nandan a co-founder of Infosys and the brainchild behind ‘Aadhar’ the unique identification. His wife Rohini has been in the social space since 2001, when she founded Arghyam, a non-profit organisation focusing on water and sanitation issues.

Nandan has donated and supported various causes, from National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), to mentoring social ventures and presently is currently Chairman for EkStep a non-profit organization focusing on improving learning outcomes for young children.

Nandan and Rohini Nilekani
Nandan and Rohini Nilekani

3. Narayana Murthy, former CEO of Infosys and known as Father of Indian IT sector, shares his fortune for encouraging entrepreneurship, social development and education. Sudha Murthy, wife of N Murthy is the chairman of Infosys Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Infosys.

4. K Dinesh, one of the seven founders of Infosys and former Head of Quality, IS (information systems) at Infosys is the fourth biggest philanthropist in the country. He has contributed his resources in the field of education, encouraging entrepreneurship and healthcare.

5. Shiv Nadar, founder of HCL and chairman of Shiv Nadar Foundation has focussed his efforts towards improving the educational landscape in the country. His focus is on promoting research-led education.

Shiv Nadar
Shiv Nadar

Top 10 Philanthropists of 2015

Rank Name Donation (in Cr) Cause Company
1 Azim Premji 27,514 Education Wipro
2 Nandan & Rohini Nilekani 2,404 Urban Governance Infosys
3 NR Narayana Murthy 1,322 Social Development Infosys
4 K Dinesh & Family 1,238 Education Infosys
5 Shiv Nadar 535 Healthcare HCL
6 Mukesh Ambani 345 Healthcare Reliance
7 Sunny Varkey & Family 326 Education Gems
8 Ronnie Screwvala 158 Education UTV Group
9 Rahul Bajaj & Family 139 Social Development Bajaj Auto
10 Pallonji Mistry 96 Social Development Shapoorji Pallonji Group

Source: Hurun Indian Philanthropy List 2015

Apart from the large scale contributors half a billion people in India donate money for religious and charitable purpose each year. As per a survey done by Charities Aid Foundation (CAF India), the data highlights that 84% of respondents had donated money to an individual or an organisation in the past year.

Religion, disability, homelessness, welfare of elderly and improving education and accessibility were the top five areas where most of the respondents were likely to donate in the future. Surprisingly 52% of the donors felt the lack of transparency hindered donations to NGOs.

Even though number of individuals who donate money for social causes is large, the sum total of donations is not high. A study done by Bain & Co stated that in 2013 28% of people contributed towards charitable donations compared to 74% in the UK.  There were 11,000 media reports on philanthropy in the US in 2013, compared to 1,000 in India for the same period highlighting the gap between need and awareness.

A huge variation exists between individuals and corporate donations in India compared to their global counterpart. India has a huge potential to become a philanthropic nation, with majority of its population engaged in one or another social activity. Momentary upsurge in donations and awareness cannot be sustainable. For example, in 2009 Save the Tigers campaign received a huge welcome, but today there is a reduction in reports and articles.

Media, government and research houses should come forward for improving accessibility to much needed information. To improve the philanthropic culture, constantly updated information and data is needed. This would help in understanding the changing needs of the society. This in turn will contribute towards a systematic and a structured approach of social initiatives.

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The CSR Journal Team