Indian born Silicon Valley venture capitalist Vinod Khosla and his wife Neeru have pledged half of their vast fortunes estimated at $1.4 billion (Rs 6,300 crore) to charity, joining a select band of 69 families who have joined the pledge started by American billionairies Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.
The Khoslas, who would make the charity either during their lifetime or after death, were accompanied by 10 more families, bringing the total number of signatories to the pledge to 69. Several of Silicon Valley’s leading entrepreneurs, including venture capitalist John Doerr, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, hedge fund manager Tom Steyer and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg have previously signed on to the pledge.
The pledge urges 400 wealthiest people in the world with an estimated net worth of $1.2 trillion (R53,60,000 crore) in 2009, to give away atleast half of the wealth towards charity. The pledges have to be made public but there is no legal contract or obligation on the doner to necessarily do so.
“I am delighted that so many wealthy Americans are taking a public pledge that supports philanthropy,” said Warren Buffett, pledge co-founder and the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, in an April 28 statement.
Though Indian businessmen who have seen their wealth soar in recent years, have been often accused for being stingy on charity, Khosla is symbolic of the country’s new-found zeal to resurrect that image.
A number of Indian billionairies including Wipro chairman Azim Premji, Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata, Mahindra Group vice-Chairman Anand Mahindra and GMR group chief GM Rao have shown their charitable instincts in the past.
Charitable constributions in India at $7.5 billion (R33,000 crore) accounts for only 0.6% of GDP against 2.2% in the US and 2.3% in the UK. Even then, India's track record is better than other emerging economies such as Brazil (0.3%) and China (0.1%).
The 56-year-old Khosla is Silicon Valley’s most prominent “green” venture capitalist and a dominant personality in the cleantech community. A co-founder of Sun Microsystems, Khosla was a general partner at VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers before striking out on his own with Khosla Ventures in 2004.