Azim Hashim Charity

Some years ago there was this movie capturing in minutest detail the rise and rise of a big time industrial house. Not” industrial”, really, because the rise had begun in a very humble way, hawking clothing on a bicycle ,at distant overseas petrol pump,  selling and then manufacturing clothing material. Amitabh Bachhan’s son and his wife Aishwarya Rai played the title role in Guru, a biopic of the big man, a lesson indeed in the art and craft of making money, the fast buck, that is, and without coming into direct conflict with the law for the most part of the endeavour.

Paisa was the prime mover in the man’s life. And did he succeed as the movie based on the life of a self-made Indian tycoon would have. Succeed, and much more indeed. Do means matter when you are pursuing a billionaire’s future. There is always time to send a thank you note to all after you have  laid anchor at the top.

The word in this kind of world is if you want to make the fast buck,do it the soonest lest you  lose it to the next man. Thus this remarkable man kept at it with an amazing knack of turning hundreds into thousands, lakhs into crorers until he  lost the count.

No wonder the film was an apt tribute to the genius of the real man who converted himself into a money-making machine, an entrepreneur par excellence and yet somehow managed to be on the right side of the law.

The name Ambani today is worth hundreds of millions, nay, billions and indeed the empire he left behind for his family has  since  his death networked itself into everyday life of millions. You name it Ambani is there. The three weddings in the family this past year would probably have cost hundreds of crores. May be a little more. But then it has been the Ambani style to celebrate their wealth, their success.

A simple wedding card may well cost a few thousand quid depending upon who the recipient may be. Yes, the Ambanis  are running some charities as well, apart from fielding an expensive cricket team, a football team and the elder Bahu of the house has come to head the football association. Contrast this with another rich man, a quiet, mind-your-business type.

A man who answers to the name  Azim Hashim Premji, head of one of India’s largest software services. Azimbhai, the founder of Wipro, too, has come a long way from the times he started out as a small-timer maker  of  a lackluster product. But he has always been a man to accept challenges, that is once he has done his ground work.

Not the flamboyant type but cool and steady as only a disciplined engineer would be. The billionaire chairperson of Wipro has just added to the billions of dollars he has already donated to charity, one among the top philanthropists in the world.

He has just committed 34 percent of shares of his company worth 7.5 billion dollars or Rs. 52,750 crores to philharmonic activities of his foundation. Which brings the total value of his donations to a monumental Rs. 1,45,000 crores.

A fortnight ago Azim Premji announced that all earnings from 34 per cent of his shares in one of  the country’s top most software services  WIPRO, worth 7.3 billion dollars or Rs52,753 crores, would be transferred to an endowment  run by his  philanthropic foundation.

It sends out a ringing signal to the corporate conscience of the country of a larger responsibility largely  unknown  to  them rarely acknowledged as duty to share part of the gains for the larger good of the community. The number of billionaires in  India  has substantially increased in recent years and currently it comes next only to US and China.

True, India has not so far seen any demonstrable backlash against the trend unlike in the western world where it can be said that socialism or a version of it, is making a comeback in the political discourse. Of course, inequality of income and wealth cannot per se be considered bad. But problem lies more with inherited wealth  and lack of churn at the top.

When people see the same set of business men  and their progeny becoming bigger and more dominant players across sectors a degree of revulsion and  alienation occur. The number of Indian billionaires has soared in the Forbes list and all indications are that many more will be making it to that sooner than we believe. And  asking us to pay heed to the groaning and moaning noticeable  among large  communities of the poor, hungry and jobless a top French economist recently  estimated that the top one per cent in India accounts  for one fourth of  the share of the country’s income.

Azim Premji who  acquired an electrical engineering degree from the US Stanford University   a  few decades ago is by far a different kettle of fush so to speak not to be overly impressed by the wealth he has created. He is only to willing to share much of it with his less lucky countrymen. India’s top philanthropist that he is, Premji has pledged  21 billion dollars or 50 per cent of his wealth to the cause of bettering the human condition.

Premji says you need a commitment which is long term and a commitment to leadership, because that’s the only way you build excellence. And he strongly believes that the three ordinary things we often do not pay enough attention to, but which I believe are the drivers of all success, are work hard, perseverance, and basic honest.

And  asking us to pay heed to the groaning and moaning noticeable  among large  communities of the poor, hungry and jobless a top French economist recently  estimated that the top one per cent in India accounts   for one fourth of  the share of the country’s income.

Azim Premji who  acquired an electrical engineering degree from the US Stanford University   a  few decades ago is by far a different kettle of fush so to speak not to be overly impressed by the wealth he has created. He is only to willing to share much of it with his less lucky countrymen.

India’s top philanthropist that he is, Premji has pledged  21 billion dollars or 50 per cent of his wealth to the cause of bettering the human condition. Premji says you need a commitment which is long term and a commitment to leadership, because that’s the only way you build excellence. And he strongly believes that the three ordinary things we often do not pay enough attention to, but which I believe are the drivers of all success, are work hard, perseverance, and basic honest.