Premji wants techies to give more for charity

Bengaluru, Dec 12 (IANS) As software professionals (techies) are well paid, they should give more for charity, Wipro czar Azim Premji said on Saturday.

“IT firms and their employees spend more time on helping victims of national calamities, but their contribution to charity is disappointing though they are well paid and can afford to give more,” Premji said at a fireside chat with Biocon chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw at a B-school event here.

The event was held as part of the Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore (IIM-B) alumni leadership meet.

Shaw is also chairperson of the IIM-B’s board of governors since February 2014, succeeding Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani.

As one of India’s top billionaires, Premji pledged his personal shares valued at $8.5 billion to charity and philanthropic activities through a not-for-profit foundation named after him.

“I have always considered wealth as a fiduciary responsibility and the reason why I gave my wealth is that was the right thing to do in a country ridden with poverty, misappropriation of funds and many disadvantaged people,” he said.

Azim Premji Foundation works in eight states funding a whopping 350,000 state-run schools to improve the quality of teaching and learning for overall improvement of the primary education across the country.

“My biggest regret is that I started too late, 14-15 years back in a small way in promoting education and government schools. We have demonstrated scale in the past four-five years because we felt a need to uplift quality of education in government schools.”

Asked how to inspire people to donate for genuine causes, the IT czar said most of the people were aware of their social responsibilities and need not be told to donate.

“I think the reason why wealthy Indians don’t give as much as Americans is their families are larger and majority of them believe they should bequeath their wealth to their children.

“Such a thinking of leaving wealth fully to children acts as a deterrent. But I think the new generation of wealthy are more generous, especially in southern India,” Premji noted out during the interaction.

On how to convince the rich or wealthy to donate beyond family, he admitted that it was a long-drawn process, as men have to convince their wives in giving away, because the latter are socially more sensitive and have time to lead philanthropic initiatives, while their husbands are busy making money.

“People who want to get into philanthropy have to first set up an organisation, institutionalise it and commit an irreversible endowment. It is important to do actively than passively. Lay a foundation with one of your trusted people who had demonstrated leadership and full commitment,” Premji added.

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