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AZIM PREMJI: NO. 3 IS NOW NO. 1

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January 2011
AZIM PREMJI: NO. 3 IS NOW NO. 1 India has over 50 dollar-billionaires. One source puts the number at 69. If they have drawn a lot of attention in recent years, it’s because of the money they make, not because of what they give. Although philanthropy is not a priority of the superrich, India seems to be doing slightly better than other large developing countries like Brazil and China.

Still, Indian philanthropic contributions amounted to 0.6 percent of the nation’s GDP, notes Arpan Sheth of Mumbai-based Bain & Co. In the U.S., that was 2.2 percent of its GDP. Moreover, while 75 percent of charitable gifts in the U.S. come from individuals and corporations, that portion drops to just 10 percent in India. Foreign organizations provide 25 percent and the remaining 65 percent comes from the Indian government.

But here comes Azim Premji, Wipro’s chairman, who is taking Indian philanthropy to a whole new level. He is donating close to $2 billion to fund education projects for the poor through the Azim Premji Foundation.

As the third richest Indian, according to Forbes, Premji’s estimated net worth exceeds $17 billion, making him the world’s 28th richest individual. For Indians, though, wouldn’t it be truer to say that Premji in now numero uno?


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