Super-indifference of India’s Super-rich

25 06 2008

The business magazines routinely carry stories estimating the wealth of the super-rich. It is an ego-trip for the people featured there and voyeurism for the rest. Business World in its latest issue has some interesting facts about the new super-rich in India. 162 new rupee billionaires (over Rs. 100 crore) got created between 2006 and 2008. These billionaires are collectively worth Rs 938 billion.


As per DSP Merrill Lynch there are close to 250,000 households with assets over $100,000 or Rs 4 million. There are roughly 100,000 dollar millionaires (over Rs 40 million)  by their estimate in the country. There are 54 dollar billionaires (Over Rs. 4000 crore) in India. 


In the latest Forbes list of billionaires, Indians had the maximum representation among Asians.


I do not grudge the super-rich their wealth. But one thing which is seriously missing among the Indian Super-rich is philanthropy. Various estimates put the annual philanthropy marketplace no more than Rs 50 billion per annum. This includes the contributions of the super-rich, rich, not-so-rich and poor towards charity. 


Anand Jain, a close friend of Mukesh Ambani, who heads the BW list of  new super-rich admits that “I have thought about this (charity and philanthropy) for some time,” . “So have some others, but we have yet to get down to brass tacks and actually formulate any strategy on it.”   


Contrast this with Bill Gates. Bill Gates has donated US $ 36 Billion to his foundation. He will be soon leaving his day-job at Microsoft and devote his full-time to Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This foundation has US $ 100 Billion in funds, thanks to the philanthropy of the world’s richest man, Warren Buffet, in addition to Bill Gates’ own. Incidentally, this foundation’s activities and charity in India, is bigger than any Indian corporate sponsored foundation. 


If Indian super-rich emulate the Americans in making wealth by exploiting the opportunities in the market, they should be emulating them in philanthropy too !  


– G. Mohan





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