India has seen a growing abundance of wealth from its rising economy, but these benefits aren’t equally distributed. An Oxfam report has reported that India’s richest one percent hold 58 percent of the country’s total wealth, compared to a global average of around 50 percent. Now, however, entrepreneurs are leading the fight against inequality and poverty. The Tej Kohli Foundation explores the issue.
Much of India still lacks basic infrastructure and amenities, as well as access to education and healthcare, and many of those in one of the world’s most populous countries are living below the poverty line. However, the government has limited funding to resolve all of these issues any time soon.
In 2011, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, two of the world's most generous and wealthiest philanthropists, asked India's billionaires to give back to the economy that had helped them flourish and give more of their fortune to charity; and it seems the pleas were taken seriously. The figures speak for themselves: between 2011 and 2013, donations from individuals saw a sixfold rise
Business leaders in India and around the world now realise that the country requires serious investment if it’s going to continue to prosper, and many business leaders and philanthropists are stepping up, both in India and around the world. For our own founder, Tej Kohli, philanthropy is a fundamental part of doing business, and giving back – and part of being a responsible entrepreneur is always keeping in mind how you can leverage your own success to help, inspire and empower others.
India’s philanthropists are multiplying as the country becomes wealthier and continues to encourage and support entrepreneurship. Altruism has long been embedded in India’s culture, and this has been helped along by government legislation in 2013 making it compulsory for large companies to spend at least two per cent of their average net profit on corporate social responsibility. According to the UN, philanthropy in India increased from US $894 million to $5.3 billion between 2011 and 2016.
One key driver for this is increased interest from the Indian journalists, who are documenting the work of philanthropists, which is encouraging the same in others, as well as challenging ideas that donors should stay modest and keep quiet about their efforts.
And outside the country, the internet and social media has helped philanthropists around the world stay informed on issues affecting India’s population. For example, the #ChennaiRains and #ChennaiFloods hashtags trended on Twitter in 2015, leading to an influx of aid on a global scale.
One major source of philanthropy from the UK to India comes from British Indians. The Charities Aid Foundation interviewed Indians living in the UK and found that religion can play a major role in motivating them to donate funds, and that many Indians feel a sense of responsibility towards India.
From India’s growing middle class with their disposable incomes, and wealthy entrepreneurs, to British Indians and philanthropists around the world; the spotlight is finally on India’s inequalities and its economic potential.