Bengaluru was called as Garden City in 80’s. The city was peaceful and was called as Retired People’s first choice. However with mass urbanisation and IT sector coming in, it was called as “Silicon Valley of India” and also IT City. And now in 2017, it can be called as Philanthropy Capital of India.
Over the weekend, Bengaluru-based Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of tech giant Infosys, and wife Rohini announced their commitment to donating 50% of their wealth (reported to be to the tune of around USD 1.7 billion) under the Giving Pledge — a philanthropy movement launched by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and wife Melinda seven years ago.
Its aim is to help address society’s most pressing problems by inviting the world’s wealthiest to commit more than half of their wealth to charitable causes. In a statement, the power couple said: “We see that inequality is increasing sharply in most countries. We see the young and the restless in this interconnected globe, unsure of their future, wanting more but anticipating less. We see a growing politics of polarization, of divisions, of brinkmanship. It is as if the world holds its breath. What should we do at this time? That is a question every citizen must ask. Those of us who have wealth beyond all our wants must ask that very sharply. Wealth comes with huge responsibility and is best deployed for the larger public interest. So what must the super-wealthy do?”
Nilekanis joined three other Indian billionaires Azim Premji, Kiran Majumdar Shaw and PNC Menon to bring the total number of members in this elite network to 171 from 21 countries.
Tech magnate and Wipro founder Azim Premji, often referred to as India’s Bill Gates for his tech wealth, is Asia’s most generous philanthropist. In 2001, he earmarked an initial $125 million worth of shares in Wipro to establish the education-focused Azim Premji Foundation. He followed this up with several hefty donations to the same foundation that helped him join the ranks of the world’s top five givers. Premji also co-hosts philanthropy meets with Bill Gates in Bangalore that is attended by several of the India’s richest tycoons.
In 2016, Kiran Majumdar Shaw, the founder of Biocon, became the second Indian to sign the Giving Pledge. Among Time magazine’s list of ‘100 most influential people in the world’, the biotech billionaire had been active in Indian philanthropic circles even prior to this, especially when in using her wealth to fund research to treat cancer. Shaw has also adopted a large number of Primary Health Centres (PHCs) in rural India to transform them into technology-enabled telemedicine centres that can bridge the burgeoning gap in medical resources.
PNC Menon founder of Bengaluru-based Sobha Developers believes its his responsibility to use his wealth to help less fortunate ones. The real estate tycoon has undertaken a multitude of social initiatives at human development through education, health, employment, water, sanitation, housing and social empowerment.
Known for their inspiring dedication to social causes, Nandan and Rohini Nilekani have been backing various philanthropic initiatives for nearly two decades. In 2014, the couple also founded EkStep, an ambitious non-profit initiative that uses open learning platforms (such as smartphones, tablets, apps and mobile gaming technology) to teach math and language skills to India’s underprivileged, school-age children.
These four have surely made Bengaluru proud. We hope more billionaires join the list. They say Gujaritis are the most intelligent people. But when it comes to big heartedness, I think it is people of Karnataka, who win the race.