Perhaps the most prolific investor and one of the biggest philanthropists of all time, Warren Buffet, coined the quote “If you’re the luckiest 1% of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99%”.
The one Indian that resonates this saying the most is none other than India’s second richest man and most generous billionaire, Azim Premji.
On Wednesday, Premji gave away 34% of his shares in his software giant Wipro Ltd. to charitable causes, in effect he announced that all earning from these shares would be endowed to the Azim Premji Foundation. The value of this 34% shareholding is about $ 7.5 billion (₹ around 52,750). Previously as well, he had committed one third of his shareholding in Wipro to the same foundation, thereby pegging his total economic benefits in Wipro’s shares at 67% to the charitable foundation. The Premji family and entities controlled by them hold a 74.30% stake in the software exporter and have now given a total of 67% away for charity, which goes against the norm of India’s super wealthy households, that inherit their wealth and prefer to leave their money to family.
With this latest action, the total value of his philanthropic activities stands at a staggering $ 21 billion (roughly ₹ 1,45,000 crore), making it the largest private endowment in Asia and among the top 5 in the world and has cemented the 73 year old Premji’s place among the world’s most influential philanthropists including Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and George Soros.
In spite of being one of the world’s richest men, Premji leads a frugal lifestyle and avoids costly cars and ostentatious displays of wealth; he is also still known to fly by economy class.
The Azim Premji Foundation, set up around a decade ago, is primarily an education focused philanthropic initiative and works towards improving access to primary education in India and improving the quality of teachers in some of the country’s most remote locations and also runs the Azim Premji University in Bengaluru. His NGO also helps improving the lives of street children and the disabled and is also involved in funding other non-profits.
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