Long-standing traditions enjoin Indians across religion, ethnicity and class to give without consideration of return. ‘One who enjoys abundance without sharing with others is indeed a thief,’ says the Bhagavad Gita, a 700-verse Hindu scripture.
Even before the Companies Act, 2013 prescribed norms for philanthropic contributions from Indian corporate entities, businesses like the Tata Group had established reputations for social investment that compared favourably with the highest global standards. Millions of non-profits, most supported by individual contributions, make India’s ‘retail’ philanthropy sector, diaspora giving and festivals of giving like Daan Utsav the envy of fundraisers across the developing world.
The Centre’s Mother Teresa Fellowship provides graduates seeking to build a career in the social sector with financial and non-financial support.
Despite its apparently thriving state, Indian philanthropy has been little studied and sources of reliable data about it are few. This is about to change. In 2016, the founders of the Ashoka University (a new, non-profit, philanthropically funded, liberal arts university near Delhi) set up the Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy (CSIP) at the university.