Azim Premji: My Hero Too!

Azim Premji Wipro
Azim Premji. (File Photo: IANS)

Today morning, I read about Wipro chairman Azim Premji in the newspaper which pleased me like nothing did in a long long time. He surprised everyone by announcing to donate 34% of his wealth for charity, which is so unusual in present times when the hunger for accumulating wealth is an unending pursuit for the majority of corporate who are more concerned with the increasing profits of their company rather than participating in the bigger cause of charity and human service.

Last year, we read about a Gujarati diamantaire Nirav Modi fleeing from country after siphoning off 15000 cr of Punjab National Bank. He wasn’t the only one. There was Vijay Mallya too, the King of Good Times who after duping his creditors with 10000 cr just boarded a flight to London and is happily enjoying the luxuries bought through his ill-gotten money.

Azim Premji, the second richest man in India and the chairman of Wipro Ltd on yesterday announced in an exchange filing that he is gifting 34% of his shares which is worth whopping Rs 52,750 crore to an endowment under the Azim Premji Foundation. It is not that Premji is donating for the first time. He has always been on the forefront of charity as far as big business houses in India are concerned.

He has earlier given huge donations, which included Wipro’s shares, as well as other assets owned by him in his personal capacity. He is arguably the biggest philanthropist in Indian history. After yesterday’s mega donation, the total value of the philanthropic endowment corpus contributed by him stands at staggering Rs 145,000 crore, in which 67% is owned by his flagship company Wipro Limited.

The Azim Premji Foundation works primarily in the field of education. However, it also supports other not-for-profits organisations working in some specific areas through regular financial grants. Azim Premji by pledging a slice as huge as $21 billion has raised the bar for philanthropy to a level that other fellow members of super rich club in India will find difficult to emulate.

Azim Premji turned Wipro into a global software giant after inheriting his father’s vegetable oil company. An average person can’t even think of Azim Premji, one of the world’s richest men, who still flies economy class, avoids luxury cars and ostentatious displays of wealth unlike any other billionaire of his ilk. In the matters of philanthropic contributions in the country, Wipro Chairman is way ahead of others by quite a distance.

Of late, individual donations in India is on a rise but it is contributions of Rs 10 crore or more which accounts for almost 50% of the individual philanthropy and Premji’s donations alone account for a lion’s share in that segment with over 80% contribution.

The foundation runs the Azim Premji University in Bengaluru and is likely to scale up significantly in the coming years. It is understood that the team working in education will significantly improve from the current 1,600 people and grants too are likely to increase by three times. The Bengaluru-based University has a plan to expand to 5,000 students and over 400 faculty members. The foundation also intends to set up another university preferably in northern India. Its philanthropic initiatives include improving the lives of street children and the disabled.

Azim Premji’s philanthropic activities have an overarching vision to contribute to developing a just, equitable, humane and sustainable society in India. It is most unfortunate that filthy-rich Indians, who have a net worth of over $50 million or more, are less charitable than they were five years ago with Azim Premji being the only exception.

If we wish to make India an inclusive society unlike at present where 73% of country’s wealth is owned by the richest 1% people, we need more heroes like Azim Premji. In the end, it’s all about spreading sunshine among the lesser mortals of God because by doing this, we also illuminate our lives. I dedicate this beautiful sher to the man with a golden heart, Azim Premji.

क्या लूटेगा ज़माना खुशियां हमारी
हम तो खुद अपनी खुशियां
दूसरों पर लूटा कर जीते हैं

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