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The changing face of Philanthropy in India

Author: Mohan Prabhu

Philanthropy and Giving in India is rapidly changing. The improved economic growth and a growing awareness/interest amongst Individuals, Philanthropists and Companies -private &  public, has influenced active 'Giving' and support of development initiatives in the country. Around this time last year, as many as 11 people, including members from the influential Nilekani, Bajaj and Godrej families, were honoured for their outstanding contribution towards the good of the society at the Forbes India Philanthropy Awards. The philanthropy awards were instituted by Forbes India to recognise the efforts of individuals who have given time, money, skill and expertise to solve some of the most pressing societal issues, to create model institutions and inspire others.

Rohini Nilekani, founder of Arghyam & Nandan Nilekani, Infosys co-founder who presently heads the Unique Identification Authority of India, won the second Forbes India Philanthropy Award in Outstanding Philanthropist category for the year 2013, and said"Philanthropy should go where markets don't and governments can't."Earlier in 2013, Shri Azim Premji, Founder & Chairman of the Wipro group of industries, donated Rs. 10,000 crores for charity – probably the single biggest donation (in recent times) by a wealthy Indian, for the cause of fellow Indians – in poverty & need. Azim Premji said that he was deeply influenced by Gandhi's notion of “holding one's wealth in trusteeship, to be used for the betterment of society and not as if one owned it". He has certainly walked the talk

Surely ‘Giving’ and ‘Philanthropy’ is fast evolving to the challenges of the present times-propelled on the one hand by the rights based development agenda of the government and the lack of commensurate impact of the economic growth in the lives of the poor and marginalized. They are fuelling and supporting innovation in development interventions that can demonstrate scalable, replicable models for the government to adopt. But the need of the hour is in building trust and synergies between Philanthropists and Corporate-CSRs and the Non-profit Organizations for scaled up collaboration to effectively address poverty & livelihood challenges, in the context of the resourcing space being vacated by the aid/funding agencies from the West, and calls for Indian Philanthropists and Corporates to step in and fill the void.

Many individuals have been quietly giving/supporting causes for the upliftment and sustainable development of the poor. Much of it has been sacrificial giving from the desire to do their bit for their lesser privileged country men/women, while others have given generously out of their wealth. In majority of the cases,such donors have channelized their resources through established, credible organizations working at the grass root level and larger NGOs/Foundations/Trusts with operational bandwidth.

As governments of the day- at the states and the Centre, grapple with making existing programs & schemes effective and efficient, it is imperative non state efforts by NGOs/VOs/Corporate-CSRs are encouraged, and pool their resources-intellectual, technical, managerial and financial, to address the complex poverty challenges and changing development needs/aspirations of the country. Non state efforts enjoy the tremendous advantages of flexibility in approach and ability to demonstrate scalable,sustainable projects that can influence changes in governments’ practices and policies.

The India of today-increasingly needs her citizens to support and be involved in initiatives to improve the lives of their lesser privileged co-citizens!!!