Giving back to society has always been a part of the Indian culture. Inheriting the values and teachings from great social leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Indians have always believed in contributing some part of their earnings towards the welfare of society, as per their personal capacity. The capitalists of the country are not any different.
Indian businessmen, in addition to getting involved in the decision making of CSR policies and allocation of funds towards it, also perform philanthropic initiatives on a personal level. These philanthropists have made substantial contributions by donating their wealth, time as well as energies for social development in the country. In this respect let us look at the top philanthropists of India.
1. Azim Premji
Azim Premji, the founder-chairman of Wipro Ltd. is known as ‘India’s most generous man’. Premji’s endowments are the largest in Asia and among top five in the world. In 2020, he topped the list of philanthropists in India by the EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2020 with donations worth Rs. 7904 crores. This accounts for about Rs. 22 Crores per day.
He has committed earnings from 67 per cent of Wipro’s shares towards the Azim Premji charitable foundation.
A strong believer of Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of trusteeship, Premji has committed his entire wealth towards philanthropy. His total commitment amounts to about Rs. 1.45 lakh Crores which is about $21 billion, placing him in the same league as Bill Gates, George Soros and Warren Buffett.
Speaking about his philanthropic nature, Amit Chandra, managing director, Bain Capital said, Premji’s grant for the nation matches only what Jamsetji Tata and Dorabji Tata have done from a historical perspective.”
He added, “Over the last 150 years, he stands out remarkably tall for what he has really done in the last 10 years.”
2. Shiv Nadar & Family
Shiv Nadar, the tech czar and the founder of HCL Technologies ranked second in the 7th edition of the list of philanthropists in India by the EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2020 with donations worth Rs. 795 crores. He topped the list in the 6th edition.
Nadar, known as one of the early philanthropists donates its proceeds towards Shiv Nadar Foundation, which implements various projects. The Foundation is committed to the creation of a more equitable, merit-based society by empowering individuals through transformational education to bridge the socio-economic divide. In order to achieve that, the Foundation has established institutions and programs in the underdeveloped disciplinary areas in India related to rural and urban education and art. The Shiv Nadar Foundation pursues a philosophy of ‘Creative Philanthropy’. It is a powerful model which envisages the creation of institutions that go beyond the lifetime of its founders and continue to impact future generations for many centuries to come.
3. Mukesh Ambani & Family
Mukesh Ambani, Chairman, MD and largest shareholder of Reliance Industries Limited(RIL), is known as the richest man of India. Ambani ranks third in the list of the 7th edition of the list of philanthropists in India by the EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2020 with donations worth Rs. 458 crores.
Mukesh Ambani has conducted his philanthropic initiatives by investing in sectors like education, social, rural development, and healthcare through Reliance Foundation which is headed by his wife Nita Ambani. However, the major focus of Ambani family’s philanthropic initiatives remains on disaster management related causes. For example, in 2018, when Kerala was hit by monsoon flood, Ambani donated Rs 71 crore in cash and supplies.
4. Kumar Mangalam Birla
Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman of the Aditya Birla Group is a firm practitioner of the trusteeship concept of Mahatma Gandhi. Kumar Mangalam Birla and Family ranked fourth in the 7th edition of the list of philanthropists in India by the EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2020 with donations worth Rs. 276 crores.
Birla’s philanthropic energies are mainly concentrated around education-related causes. His proceeds are through Aditya Birla Foundation which is involved in various education-related initiatives. It was also involved in the COVID-19 relief work with the support of Birla Family.
5. Anil Agarwal
Anil Agarwal, the Founder and Chairman of Vedanta donated Rs. 215 crores towards philanthropic causes. This earned him 5th rank in the 7th edition of the list of philanthropists in India by the EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2020. In September 2014 Anil Agarwal pledged 75 per cent of his wealth to charity.
A majority of his donations are directed towards the causes of healthcare and education. Agarwal believes that philanthropy can play a central role in supporting the government’s efforts to eradicate malnutrition by 2030 in line with our commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Anil Agarwal donates his endowments to the Anil Agarwal Foundation. The Foundation in collaboration with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as with the Union and state governments, is working to rapidly eradicate malnutrition from Uttar Pradesh.
His foundation also works towards education and computer literacy, vocational training, women and child empowerment, and community welfare.
6. Ajay Piramal
Ajay Piramal, the Chairman of Piramal Group has been involved in philanthropy all his life. He believes that the wealth earned is not to keep, but to share – a legacy that he inherited from his Grandfather. Ajay Piramal and Family ranked 6th in the 7th edition of the list of philanthropists in India by the EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2020, with donations worth Rs. 196 crores.
The Piramal family conducts its philanthropic activities through the Piramal foundation which also acts as the executing agency of the Piramal Group’s CSR initiatives. The foundation focuses on causes relating to healthcare, education, livelihood creation and youth employment.
7. Nandan Nilekani
Nandan Nilekani, the co-founder of Infosys, and his wife Rohini Nilekani are signatories to The Pledge initiated by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, and have pledged half of their wealth to philanthropy. The Nilekanis ranked 7th in the 7th edition of the list of philanthropists in India by the EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2020, with donations worth Rs. 159 crores.
A major focus of the philanthropic activities of Nandan and Rohini Nilekani is education. Rohini Nilekani was a founding trustee of the Akshara Foundation when setup in March 2000. The Foundation’s mission is to ensure ‘Every Child in School and Learning Well’. In 2004, she set up Pratham Books, a non-profit publisher of affordable and good quality children’s books. Its mission is to put ‘a book in every child’s hand’. The duo set up a societal platform initiative called ‘EkStep’ that provides a digital infrastructure for early learning.
8. Hinduja Brothers
The Hinduja Brothers have inherited philanthropy from their patriarch, Shri Parmanand Deepchand Hinduja whose core philosophy was, “My Dharma (duty) is to work so that I can give.” The Hinduja Brothers ranked 8th in the 7th edition of the list of philanthropists in India by the EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2020, with donations worth Rs. 133 crores.
Hinduja Brothers carry out their philanthropic activities through Hinduja Foundation which is involved in various projects relating to Rural Development, Education, and Healthcare.
9. Gautam Adani
Gautam Adani, the Chairman of Adani Group claimed the 9th spot in the 7th edition of the list of philanthropists in India by the EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2020, with donations worth Rs. Rs. 88 crore. Adani strongly believes in giving back to society.
Gautam Adani is the president of the Adani Foundation, through which he carries out his philanthropic activities. The foundation also carries out the company’s social responsibility initiatives. The Adani Foundation works in four key areas such as Education, Community Health, Sustainable Livelihood, and Community Infrastructure Development, in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals.
In addition to this, the foundation has established the Adani Vidya Mandir, a school for underprivileged children in Ahmedabad, Bhadreshwar, and other states and supports 300 government schools, educating over 100,000 children.
10. Sudhir and Samir Mehta
The Mehta Brothers of the Torrent Group have earned 10th position in the 7th edition of the list of philanthropists in India by the EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2020, with donations worth Rs. 82 crores.
Their contribution to society has led Mehtas to be considered as the second most generous family in Gujarat after the Adanis. The Mehtas carry out their philanthropic activities through UNM Foundation. Their main focus lies in the areas of healthcare, education and Knowledge enhancement and social care and concern.