Azim Premji recently donated 34% of his shares in Wipro to a charitable cause, making him one of the most philanthropic businessmen in India. While these shares are worth 7.2 billion USD, his past contributions to charity, including a 74% economic ownership in Wipro, are valued at a total of 21 Billion USD. This makes his philanthropic efforts like no other.
Interestingly, as one of India’s richest men, Azim Premji is quite frugal in his life. He does not appreciate any ostentatious display of wealth and still flies economy when he gets on board a plane. He set up the Premji Foundation in 2010 in order to improve the state of education in India. Many of his initiatives are also directed towards helping the disabled as well as street children. He also runs a university in Bangalore.
Azim Premji’s philanthropic news comes at a very critical time for Indian philanthropy. The Indian Philanthropy Report released 1st week of March 2019 by Bain & Company, estimated that excluding donations by the Bengaluru–based software mogul, donations of Rs.10 crores and above have declined by 4% in India since 2014. Even as the proportion of the ultra-rich, those with a net worth of over $50 million, grew by 12%.
In the last few years, more Indian billionaires have stepped up to increase their pledging. Apart from the Nandan Nilekani, Biocon (India’s largest biopharmaceutical company) founder Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Symphony Group’s Romesh Wadhwani and realty business tycoon PNC Menon have pledged half of their wealth to the Bill Gates – inspired Giving Pledge.
According to a statement released by the foundation, spokespeople said “Azim Premji’s philanthropic activities have an overarching vision to contribute to developing a just, equitable, humane and sustainable society in India. To enable this vision, the Azim Premji Foundation works directly in education and supports other not-for-profits working in some specific areas through multi-year financial grants,”.