Thanks to two
of the world’s richest men, corporate India is quite seriously talking about
social responsibility, causes, development, philanthropy and sustainability.
that are opposing the proposed mandatory spend towards corporate social
responsibility are, quite interestingly, appreciating the ideas of Warren
Buffet and Bill Gates, arguably the greatest philanthropists of this century.
Buffet has pledged 99 per cent of his billion dollars worth of wealth. Most of
this pledged wealth will go to Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
and his wife Melinda are in the country to promote their worldwide campaign The
Giving Pledge, wherein they are encouraging the donation and philanthropy culture
among wealthy businesses and families.
The trio has
been meeting businessmen, government officials and ministers to help promote
Buffet, an 80-year-old legendary investor, often called the ‘Oracle
of Omaha’, even called Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the Parliament and
discussed business and philanthropy opportunities.
Buffet also met Planning Commission Deputy Chairman
Montek Singh Ahluwalia to have a better understanding of the
Indian rich and their way of investing, spending and giving.
On March 24,
the visitors met India’s industry captains including Wipro chairman Azim
Premji, GMR group chairman GM Rao, HCL Enterprises chairman Shiv Nadar and Godrej
group chairman Adi Godrej, and urged them to distribute part of their wealth
for philanthropic purposes.
of the philanthropists happened within closed doors and, as the media reports
suggest, Buffett spoke on the philosophy of the ‘art of giving’.
‘Based on the
discussions today, I’m sure in India the percentage of private philanthropy
will significantly go up. There were 70 people today at the meeting, but the
follow-up of these discussions remain to be seen,’ Buffet had said after the
‘We are not
here to pressure anybody. Everybody has his or her own understanding of
philanthropy. We will be talking to Indian billionaires about our philanthropic
activities and find out what they are doing,’ were Buffet’s pre-meeting
historically produced some of the most important philanthropists the world has
known. I’m certain this will continue,’ Gates had said in a statement after the
attractive proposition for the promoters of philanthropy has been India’s rebounding
stock market and economy that is growing at over 8.5 per cent and is producing billionaires
at a considerable pace. Last year, there were only 49 billionaires on the
Forbes list of India’s richest, while this year the number has risen to 55,
which is the highest ever.
In the United
States, The Giving Pledge signed up more
than 55 individuals and their families since launching the campaign in June.
The list also includes New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, CNN founder Ted
Turner, film director George Lucas, Junk Bond pioneer Michael Milken and AOL
co-founder Steve Case. Media titans Carl Icahn and Barry Diller are
also part of the group, while Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg became the youngest to
join the group and he promised to pledge most of his wealth.
The Giving Pledge is not a formal contract. The ones who
make it are committing to give away at least half of their wealth to
philanthropic causes either in their lifetime or after they die.