Azim Premji (Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg)

The Joy Of Azim Premji’s Giving...In Numbers

Azim Premji’s commitment to the philanthropic cause is well known. But his most recent pledge—to give away Wipro shares worth around Rs 53,000 crore—brings him in the league of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.

Earlier this week, the billionaire earmarked all economic benefits from 34 percent of his shares in Wipro for philanthropy, making it the largest such donation in India’s history. With this, the corpus of funds under the family’s endowment trust, which supports the Azim Premji Foundation’s charitable activities, has risen to nearly $21 billion, or about Rs 1.45 lakh crore.

But How Big Is That Number?

Premji’s total endowment towards philanthropy is almost double the amount India’s private sector raised for social causes in the last five years.

The Joy Of Azim Premji’s Giving...In Numbers

Most of India’s private funding for the social sector comes from individual philanthropists like Premji. But when you remove his contributions you see that individual philanthropy—especially from the ultra-rich—has declined 4 percent in the last five years, according to Bain & Company’s India Philanthropy Report 2019.

80 Percent
That’s the share of Premji’s contribution to India’s individual philanthropy in 2017-18.

That’s not it. Premji’s personal pledge is thrice of what Indian corporations contributed as mandated corporate social responsibility in last five years.

The Joy Of Azim Premji’s Giving...In Numbers

That’s also very close to what the Indian government spent towards social sector schemes in 2017-18.

The Joy Of Azim Premji’s Giving...In Numbers

But...

While those numbers look big, they are not enough compared to the needs of India’s social sector. To achieve even five of the 30 sustainable development goals by 2030—zero hunger, good health, quality education, gender equality and clean water—India will need Rs 26 lakh crore annually, the Bain & Company report said.

Even in the best case scenario, India will still face an annual shortfall of Rs 4.2 lakh crore. The actual shortfall could well be two to four times of that, the report said.

That means the country will need many more Premjis to come forth and do their bit. And there’s no dearth of ultra-rich in India. A recent Knight Frank report said India will churn out the most number of super wealthy individuals, with net assets of more than $30 million, in the next five years.

“To all players in India’s development landscape: This is a mission call,” Bain & Company’s report said. “Individual philanthropists must embrace their critical role in India’s development needs and respond like competitive players. Barring a few exceptions, individual philanthropists are contributing two to three times below their giving ability and need to do more.”

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Also read: What’s Missing From India’s Joy Of Giving