Billionaire Azim Premji made history this week as the most generous philanthropist in India. Nicknamed ‘India’s Bill Gates’, Premji pledged $7.5 billion to his foundation, the Azim Premji Foundation, which believes in a just, equitable, humane and sustainable society through focusing on education.
As the chairman of a technology company called Wipro, Premji is using 34 per cent of his company’s shares to make the donation. To date, Premji has donated $21 billion (£15.8 billion) to his foundation, which includes 67 per cent of Wipro’s shares.
Premji was the first Indian to sign the Giving Pledge. Created by Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates, this pledge motivates the world’s billionaires to donate more than half of their total wealth to charity. Anurag Behar, Wipro’s chief sustainability officer CEO at the Azim Premji Foundation commented, ‘The visibly wealthy and the newly wealthy in India are clearly not as generous as the wealthy in, say, America. But India also has a substantial culture of philanthropy that is not conspicuous.’
The foundation works directly in education and supports over 150 other non-profits through financial grants. The foundation set up the Azim Premji University to develop professionals in education and related human development domains, offer degree and education programmes, and conduct research. As a result of this donation, the Azim Premji Foundation hopes to significantly scale up to triple grant-making activities and open a new university in northern India.
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