Azim Premji: Philanthropy through Education

There are many business tycoons who turn into partial or full time philanthropists. We have heard of many international leaders and software developers earning the huge bucks shifting their primary focus to uplifting the society or a particular underprivileged class. From actors like Salman Khan conducting Being Human campaigns to the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation catering towards the benefits of the lower income people across the globe, every rich celebrity is trying to become a Good Samaritan. However, most of us aren’t aware of the lesser popular foundations that exist for the same social cause. Probably those entrepreneurs do not believe in advertising their philanthropy and letting the world know what they do behind the curtains. One such famous yet hidden philanthropist is Azim Premji, the chairman of Wipro, India.

Have you ever heard him promote his organization at an interview? Have you ever seen him put up posters or conduct massive campaigns? Have you seen his advertisements going viral? Certainly not. Yet he is one philanthropist who is doing equal good to mankind through two of his successful brain childs: The Azim Premji Foundation and the Azim Premji University. Not only is he the fourth richest Indian but also the 61st wealthiest person in the whole world. A high percentage of his net asset values are donated to charity. He has been the first Indian and third non-American to have joined “The Giving Pledge”, which is a commitment by the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy. He has also been awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2005. Azim Premji is a man of his words. Having taken the pledge, he has ensured that almost 25% of his wealth goes to the underprivileged. He hasn’t stopped at that. His foundation does not believe in charity alone, but also on creating a just, equitable and a sustainable environment for the growth of individuals forming the lower strata of the society. They work in complementation to the government so as to be able to generate education resources that form the backbone of modern world development.

His foundation has thus opened a university named Azim Premji University. The university’s primary focus is to create a favorable infrastructure for the boom of the education system amidst the lower and middle income citizens in the country. Premji has envisaged the whole concept of philanthropy into the bubble of education. Instead of providing money or luxury, he believes in living in an India that can be run by a literate work force. He believes in capacity building and enabling the people to empower themselves. It is surprising how we all fail to observe such kind doings from entrepreneurs like Premji. The media brings these things to light but then it is forgotten. We need more people like Premji who inspire the downtrodden into rising from the ashes as phoenixes.

One of his very famous quotes is: “If people are not laughing at your goals, your goals are too small”. This very quote defines his vision for the foundation and the university. This vision is to enable every capable human to dream, to get inspired and to flourish.

Damini Naidu

technology enthusiast, trained bharatnatyam dancer, past-time philosophical writer, movie buff

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