India hasn’t traditionally been known for philanthropy across the board, but the scope for corporate houses and the privileged to make a difference through philanthropic ventures, is pretty massive.
You can take it from Rohini Nilekani, wife of entrepreneur and former Infosys CEO Nandan Nilekani, who puts it quite clearly.
“We happened to get pretty rich a few years ago. We looked at the wealthy as up there and nothing to do with people like us and when I became that rich, I was put to grapple with the same questions. Everyone cares about the wealth of ours and others’ wealth as well,” she said at an event in Delhi, recently.
She is the founder and chairperson of Arghyam, an NGO that works to resolve the pressing problems of water and sanitation in the country. She added, “Since we are talking about philanthropy then it is a topic that you cannot force someone to do, it is largely voluntary. Some people just like to write cheques while others like me tend to get involved in the issues they are doing charity for.”
The Tatas may be making headlines for other reasons, but no question that they are a pioneer in organised philanthropy in India. Others like N. R. Narayana Murthy, Azim Premji, K.V. Kamath, Rahul Bajaj, Anand Mahindra, K. M. Birla, Dhirubhai Ambani, Rajan Nanda, Jamshyd Godrej, have all been noted philanthropists, many with established foundations and trusts, targeting specific issues.
Why does one child goes to the most luxurious school and the other start his/her day with rag picking?
“Largely, corporates have played a fundamental role in catering to the development of the country introducing various progressive initiatives. The major evolution that has come is mainly because of convergence, public-private partnerships in particular. Predominantly, there has been an evolution in the concept of corporate social responsibility,” Nidhi Pundir, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at HCL Foundation tells SheThePeople.TV.
Nidhi, who has led the development of Plan International’s first Global Strategy on Child Protection Programming (2015-2020), asks, “Why (does) one child goes to the most luxurious school and the other one starts his/her day with rag picking? Don’t we owe to these children as well as other citizens of our country a meaningful and dignified life, leave aside access to education, health, livelihoods and clean environment?”
Most important aspect of philanthropy is EMPATHY
She also highlighted that the most important aspect of philanthropy is empathy. “When you witness life from too close a distance, you witness the difference between having and not having privileges, you question ‘why’, ten times a day and you devise strategies to overcome disparity… you go on and on with it every day and there is always an inner voice that motivates you to bring about a positive change, that brings you to work eventually. Is this enough? I wonder, there much more to do!”