Meet India’s top 10 billionaires who donate money for social good

These businessmen are the heroes of philanthropy in India, contributing their money and expertise to various fields like education, healthcare, creation of jobs, and more.
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India has produced a number of billionaires even as family businesses have passed down from generation to generation. 

However, the difference in quality of life and economic freedom between the rich and poor in the country is huge. One wishes there was a way to trickle down the wealth in a few hands to those in dire need of it. A few billionaires in India are doing just that, extending their helping hands to those in need. 

In its, India Philanthropy List 2018, Hurun Research Institute stated that Indian philanthropy was at Rs 2310 crore in 2018 with an average donation per philanthropist being Rs 61 crores.

There were 21 self-made and 17 inherited entrepreneurs in the Hurun list. Mumbai houses the most number of philanthropists at 12, followed by Bengaluru (6) and Ahmedabad (4).

Here are the top 10 Indian philanthropists in terms of amount donated from October 1, 2017, to September 31, 2018. 

Shiv Nadar (Rs 770 crore)

Net worth: Rs 1480 crore

Padma Bhushan awardee Shiv Nadar co-founded HCL in 1976 to make calculators and microprocessors, which went on to become a multinational IT company. Currently, Chairman of HCL, Nadar also runs the Shiv Nadar Foundation that pursues creative philanthropy. Among other things, the foundation supports rural education and provides scholarships for underprivileged students to study abroad. The 74-years-old also founded the SSN College of Engineering in Chennai in 1996 and gifted Rs 1 million worth of HCL shares to the college.  

Mukesh Ambani (Rs 437 crore)

Net worth: Rs 4820 crore

The 62-year-old Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries was born into the ultra-rich Ambani family. His father Dhirubhai Ambani founded Reliance Industries in 1966 as a small textile manufacturer, and over the years, the company diversified into businesses across sectors, including textiles, telecommunications, and energy. 

Mukhesh Ambani, who was named the richest Asian by Forbes in 2018, has invested in sectors like education, social, rural development, and healthcare through Reliance Foundation which is headed by his wife Nita Ambani. Established in 2010, it also undertakes activities like urban renewal, and art and culture. Last year, when Kerala was hit by monsoon flood,  he donated Rs 71 crore in cash and supplies. 

Ajay Piramal and family (Rs 200 crore)

Net worth: Rs 420 crore

Ajay Piramal chairs Piramal Enterprises, a conglomerate that specialises in pharma, healthcare, and financial services. The group struck its biggest deal in 2010 when Abbott Labs bought Piramal’s pharma arm for $3.8 billion. The group participates in philanthropic activities through the Piramal Foundation, initiating projects in areas of healthcare, education, livelihood creation, and youth empowerment. His wife Swati is vice-chairman and their children Nandini and Anand serve on the board.

Azim Premji and family ( Rs 113 crore)

Net worth: Rs 480 crore

Seventy-four-year-old tech magnate Azim Hashim Premji is the Chairman of IT company Wipro and was listed among the 100 most influential people for two years by TIME magazine.

In 2013, he signed The Giving Pledge to donate at least half of his wealth, a campaign started by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

So far, he has donated $21 billion to Azim Premji Foundation, an education-focused non-profit he founded in 2001.

Adi Godrej and family (Rs 96 crore)

Net worth: Rs 260 crore

The 77-year-old businessman chairs Godrej Group and Indian School of Business since April 2011. His company supports the activities of World Wildlife Fund in India. The billionaires’ contribution towards social cause is noteworthy. 

In fact, 25 percent of the shares of the group is dedicated to its non-profit such as Pirojsha Godrej Foundation, the Soonabai Pirojsha Godrej Foundation, and the Godrej Memorial Trust. The funds are spent on initiatives in education, healthcare, and environmental sustainability.

Gautam Adani (Rs 76 crore)

Net worth: Rs 1040 crore

Keen on starting his own business, the 57-year-old Chairman of Adani Group left college and started as a diamond sorter at Mahindra Brothers. Today, the ports tycoon handles various businesses in areas of energy, agriculture, defence, and aerospace.

He is also president of the Adani Foundation, the company’s social responsibility arm founded in 1996. It has established the Adani Vidya Mandir, school for underprivileged children in Ahmedabad, Bhadreshwar, and other states and supports 300 government schools, educating over 100,000 children.

Yusuff Ali MA (Rs 70 crore)

Net worth: Rs 370 crore

Yusuff Ali MA with PM Narendra Modi

The Kerala-born, UAE gold resident card holder Yusuff Ali is the Managing Director and Chairman of Lulu Group International. The retail business owns over 170 hypermarkets and shopping malls and employs the most number of Indians abroad.

A Padma Shree awardee, 63-year-old Ali has generously contributed during natural disasters such as the Gujarat earthquake in 2001, Jammu and  Kashmir floods in 2014, and others. The group also works with global philanthropic organisation Dubai Cares and has adopted schools in Gaza and Nepal.

Savji Dholakia (Rs 40 crore)

Net worth: Rs 380 crore

Savji Dhanji Dholakia is the Founder and Chairman of diamond manufacturing and exporting company Hari Krishna Exports.

The 57-year-old joined his uncle in his business after dropping out of school at 13 and went on to founded his own in 1984, with his brothers.

The Dholakia Foundation has organised many event to promote sustainable living and in December last year, organised the Samhu Lagna ‘mass marriage’ for around 78 couples. 

Shapoor Pallonji Mistry and Cyrus Pallonji Mistry (Rs 36 crore) 

Net worth: Rs 960 crore each 

Shapoorji Mistry has been the chairman of the Shapoorji Pallonji Group since 2003 and is the single person with most stake in the family conglomerate TATA Group. Cyrus was the Chairman of TATA Group from 2012 to 2016. His firm Cyrus Investments holds 18.4 percent stake in the Group.

Notably, 66 percent of TATA Sons is owned by a philanthropic trust called TATA Philanthropic Allied Trusts, which contributes by tackling issues in health, education, and poverty. The company also provides education grants for deserving candidates to study abroad and in India.

(Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan)