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Premji to commit more of his wealth to philanthropy

February 19, 2013 16:04 IST

Azim PremjiWipro Chairman Azim Premji said on Tuesday he will commit more of his wealth to philanthropy, as his Foundation scales up work to improve equity and quality of the primary education system in the country.

The business tycoon, who is also the Chairman of Azim Premji Foundation, has donated 8.7 per cent of the total stock of Wipro from his personal stock-holding for philanthropy in 2010.

This formed the endowment for the Foundation.

In a letter for the first international "Giving Pledge", group, he said the Foundation currently has 800 people spread across the country: most of whom are working for the betterment of some of the most disadvantaged regions of the country, and others at the Azim Premji University in Bengaluru.

"The Foundation plans to scale up to 4000-5000 people over the next five years", Premji said.

"The developments of the past two years have given me confidence in our scaled up and institutional strategy.

“Even as we execute this strategy, I am aware that ensuring stable funding source is critical for its success.

“I am committed to transferring more of my wealth to scale up the Endowment of the Foundation," he said.

"I strongly believe that those of us who are privileged to have wealth should contribute significantly to try and create a better world for the millions who are far less privileged. I will continue to act on this belief," Premji added.

Premji recalled how he got influenced by a sense of idealism and genuine sense of nation building during India's independence period.

"I was deeply influenced by Gandhi's notion of holding one's wealth in trusteeship, to be used for the betterment of society and not as if one owned it", Premji said.

In 1966 Premji dropped out from his studies at Stanford on his father's untimely death (though he completed his Engineering degree in 2000) and came back to India to run the small family business.

"As Wipro became a globally successful IT Services firm, I began to seriously consider what I should do with my wealth, which had accrued from the success and market capitalisation of the company", Premji said.

"I became convinced that markets, public systems and philanthropic initiatives all had a significant role to play if the country was to have inclusive development, and that we needed to work purposefully towards establishing a more humane, equitable and ethical society for all our citizens," he added.

It was this purpose that made him decide he must focus his philanthropic initiative on trying to help improve the Public Education System in India, beginning with primary schools, for he strongly believed education is perhaps the most important social institution to empower individuals and shape a better society.

Premji said in 2009, they reviewed the experience and strategy at the Foundation and decided to scale up work and deepen support to the public schooling system by creating institutions, including those at district and state-level which work on capacity development of teachers and other people in the public education system, and also on other related academic and managerial issues.

Image: Azim Premji

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