It's not just because of Azim Premji's enormous wealth that he is compared to the American technologist turned philanthropist. Granted, the chairman of the technology-services company Wipro is India's third-richest citizen, with a net worth of $13 billion, according to Forbes. He inherited Wipro as a small cooking-oil company when he was just a 21-year-old engineering student at Stanford University and has since overseen its growth into a global giant.
It is Premji's unprecedented philanthropy, however, that recently has borne out the Gates comparison. Last December, Premji made the largest charitable contribution in modern Indian history: $1.95 billion to his rural-education foundation, to help train teachers and improve exams and curricula for 2.5 million Indian children in more than 20,000 schools. The Azim Premji University, a training and research institution in Bangalore, welcomed its first 200 students in July, and the foundation just announced plans to open 1,300 free schools across the country.
Through his contributions, Premji is at the forefront of a rising tide of Indian philanthropy, with billionaire executives such as Shiv Nadar, founder of the technology company HCL, and Sunil Bharti Mittal, of the business conglomerate Bharti Enterprises, often listed in the same cohort. Gates himself traveled this spring to India to meet with Premji and others and encourage the country's wealthiest citizens to give back. As Gates wrote in Time, Premji is "setting a remarkable example for those who have benefited so enormously from India's economic expansion."
Muse Mahatma Gandhi -- simplicity in life, morality in character.
Stimulus or austerity? Stimulus for now.
America or China? America.
Arab Spring or Arab Winter? Arab Spring.
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