Super rich people should be super generous, said Nandan and Rohini Nilekani while pledging half of their wealth to philanthropic causes after signing up for the ‘Giving Pledge’. The couple with an estimated personal wealth of $1.7 billion, were the latest to join a long list of top notch global CEOs who have committed their money for social causes through the global initiative put together by Bill and Melinda Gates.
In less than two days, the boss of telecom behemoth, Sunil Bharti Mittal pledged 10 per cent of family wealth or about Rs 7,000 crore for social causes close to his heart. With less than six weeks left for winding down of 2017, business heads of more companies are expected to follow suit.
India has a long heritage of businesses making donations for the causes they are strongly wedded to. It is only now that business families make it a big event while pledging their wealth for social causes.
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw (Biocon), Vinod & Neeru Khosla (Sun Microsystems), Azim Premji (Wipro), Sunny & Sherley Verkey (GEMS group) are some of India’s leading business families that have set aside a big chunk of their personal wealth to improve peoples’ living standards.
It is heartening to see modern day businessmen and women, brands in their own rights, gravitating towards ‘giving back’ to the society after having arrived on the global scene.
Traditional business houses like Tatas, Birlas, Bajajs, Ambanis, Goenkas or the good old Marwari households have played a significant role in both social movements and turning agents of change, when required.
The father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi got untold assistance from Gujarati business houses while setting up the first ashram on the banks of Sabarmati in Ahmedabad, also one of the nerve centres of the country’s Independence struggle.
Since 1947, several business families have had set aside a large part of their funds for healthcare, education, economic empowerment, childcare, women’s betterment, sports and cultural renaissance through various charities, foundations and family trusts.
While this has happened silently over the years, India has entered a new era when ‘giving back to society’ is a badge one wears on the sleeve with pride and hog headlines as well. Though a dozen big business families have already taken the lead, more need to join the bandwagon.
In fact, India should become a nerve centre for its own version of the ‘Giving Pledge’ movement. Redesigning such a movement to suit Indian needs would be a good idea that our business leaders can ponder about.