US billionaire investor and philanthropist Warren Buffett on Thursday met India's industry captains including Godrej group chairman Adi Godrej, Wipro chairman Azim Premji, GMR group chairman GM Rao and HCL Enterprises chairman Shiv Nadar among others, urging them to distribute part of their wealth for charity.
In a closed-door meeting with leading industrialists, Buffett spoke on the philosophy of the "Art of Giving," said a source who did wish to be identified.
A rebounding stock market that gained two-thirds last year and an economy growing at over 8.5% has boosted the wealth of India's richest. Last year, there were only 49 billionaires on the Forbes list of India's richest. This year, the number has risen to 55 - the highest ever.
Buffett is in India as part of his philanthropic initiatives and is also expected to look at possible investment opportunities.
The 80-year old legendary investor, often called the "Oracle of Omaha", has pledged 99% of his wealth in Berkshire Hathaway towards philanthropy. Along with bridge partner and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Buffett is urging America's richest to pledge half their fortunes to charity as part of "The Giving Pledge." So far, 59 rich Americans have taken the pledge and said they want to take the campaign worldwide.
"We are not here to pressure anybody. Everybody has his or her own understanding of philanthropy," Buffett had said in Bangalore Wednesday. "We will be talking to Indian billionaires about our philanthropic activities and find out what they are doing."
He also met Planning Commission deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia on Thursday.
Buffett is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday and address policyholders of insurance schemes launched by Berkshire Hathaway.
Billionaires in India are often accused of not doing enough for have-nots. Wipro chairman Azim Premji's decision to transfer 213 million shares worth Rs 8,846 crore towards improving the country's education system perhaps would set a trend for many of his billionaire peers to follow.