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'India’s wealthy still learning to give'

The richie-rich club of India are still lagging behind their Western counterparts when it comes to charity donations, but philanthropy in the country is gaining momentum, experts say.

business Updated: Mar 25, 2013 04:13 IST
billionaires in India

The richie-rich club of India are still lagging behind their Western counterparts when it comes to charity donations, but philanthropy in the country is gaining momentum, experts say.

As per US-based business magazine Forbes' annual rankings of the world's richest people, there a total of 55 billionaires in India, making it the fifth biggest country in terms of number of people with at least one billion dollar networth.

However, India lags behind many of its Western peers when it comes to charitable donations by the rich citizens.

According to the latest India Philanthropy Report by global consultancy firm Bain and Company, the wealthy Indians shelled out 3.1% of their total income on charitable donations in 2011, compared to 2.3% in 2010.

The figure is still low in comparison to many other countries. The affluent people in the US give as much as 9.1% of their income in donations.

“Most of the newly rich individuals acquired such level of resources for the first time in life which had not been passed on to them from previous generations in comparison to their western peers,” said Santanu Mishra, co-founder of non-profit organisation Smile Foundation India. “Hence their priority is to enjoy these hard earned resources first and get it utilised for their children.”

He said Indians have traditionally been more inclined to religious donations, rather than social issues, but things may be changing now.

IT major Wipro's chief Azim Premji recently became the first Indian to sign up for the global 'Giving Pledge' initiative.

The Giving Pledge, espoused by US billionaires Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, is an initiative where the world’s richest families pledge to donate at least half of their wealth to charity.