Azim Premji, chairman of Wipro Ltd, won the inaugural Forbes India Philanthropy Award in Outstanding Philanthropist category for the year 2012. Premji, 67, the third richest Indian with a net worth of $12.2 billion, has pledged close to $2 billion from his personal wealth to Azim Premji Foundation, which is working to improve elementary education across India. He was among the ten outstanding individuals who received the award under different categories.
The philanthropy awards were instituted by Forbes India to recognize the efforts of individuals who have given time, money, skill and expertise to solve some of the most pressing societal issues, to create model institutions and to inspire others. The winners received their awards - metalwork keepsakes depicting the Mubhi Tree, which symbolises the art of giving - at an event in Bangalore on Wednesday.
"Our hope is that business should emerge as a strong force for good in this country and that our list of nominees for each of the ten categories will continue to grow as more and more people from the world of business step up and find new exciting ways to give back to society," Indrajit Gupta, editor Forbes India said during the event.
Premji spoke about how his foundation’s university, which has 230 students and 70 professors, complements the field work they do in education. “Our objective is that we have to get more results and to scale up much more significantly in the grassroot level in the field,” he said. Later, he joined his fellow winners N Vaghul, former chairman ICICI Bank and MV Subbiah, former chairman Murugappa Group in a fireside chat to discuss what it takes to build a network of engaged corporate citizens, deepening the culture of giving back, galvanising corporate action, and how to take philanthropy in India to the next level. The session was moderated by Subroto Bagchi, chairman and co-founder Mindtree.
In yet another fireside chat, Nachiket Mor, Chairman of the Board of Directors, SughaVazhvu, Ashish Dhawan, Founder and CEO of Central Square Foundation and Ramji Raghavan, founder Agastya International discussed the challenges that philanthropists face when they work with multiple stakeholders, especially the government, in bringing about change. Ajit Rangnekar, dean of the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, moderated the session.
The event was attended by entrepreneurs, executives and academics with interest and passion for philanthropy and social good. They shared their views on themes related to philanthropy. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, chairman and managing director of Biocon said that philanthropy is about making changes, and partnerships play a crucial role in that.
Mohandas Pai, Chairman of Manipal Global Education, and one of the driving forces behind Akshayapatra a mid-day meal programme, said he was motivated to do more when he realised that he was lucky to have won ‘the ovarian lottery’, many others aren’t so fortunate. Lord Raj Loomba, founder of clothing company Rinku Group, whose foundation works for the cause of widows, said his inspiration was the story of his mother, who became a widow when Raj Loomba was just 10 years old.
The latest edition of Forbes India devoted to philanthropy was also released. It's chockablock with features on philanthropy with detailed case studies about each of Award winners. Unlike other issues, philanthropy special edition has four covers - featuring four of the winners Azim Premji, N Vaghul, MV Subbiah and Ashish Dhawan, and a caption that runs across four covers: Philanthropy, done right, is too important to restrict to one cover.
Speaking on the occasion, Gurmeet Singh, CEO, Forbes India said, “We at Forbes India strongly believe that Wealth and Philanthropy are two sides of the same coin. Therefore it was logical that we scaled up our earlier events on “Purpose Of Wealth”, “Business as a Force For Good” and “Conscious Capitalism” into a full fledged Philanthropy Awards Evening. Forbes India Philanthropy Awards and Dinner was a very well attended evening bringing India’s biggest philanthropists, guides and catalysts on the same platform and exploring what motivates leaders to embrace philanthropy and how India Inc needs to bring a stronger giving culture”.
The winners were selected by a jury comprising of Narayanan Vaghul, Former Chairman, ICICI Bank, Madhav Chavan, Founder and CEO, Pratham, Shashi Tharoor, Member of Parliament and Dr. Devi Shetty Founder Chairman, Narayana Hrudayalaya Hospitals.
Here's the complete list of award categories and winners
The flagship award recognises an outstanding individual whose leadership and contributions of time, money, skill and expertise has brought in new thinking into solving complex social issues.
Winner: Azim Premji, Chairman, Wipro Ltd
Outstanding Corporate Foundation
This award honours foundations that have taken up a social issue and have long term vision, strategy, a sustainable model and have created significant impact in their chosen areas.
Winner: Tata Trusts
Distinguished Family of the year
This award honours families who have dedicated their private wealth for public good and benefited an institution or organisation in recognisable and sustainable ways across different generations
Winner: Murugappa Family
NextGen leader in Philanthropy
This award recognises the accomplishments and contributions of emerging leaders in philanthropy, those who have signaled their intent through meaningful giving, have also begun to contribute significant time, skills and resources to the causes they have helped advance.
Winner: Ashish Dhawan, Founder, Central Square Foundation
This award is for a company that has successfully marketed products or services in conjunction with a charity and brought significant benefits to both parties.
Winner: Tata Tea - Jaago Re
This award is for a senior business leader who has used his influence to promote the cause of giving back not just in his or her company, but also across the entire industry.
Winner: N Vaghul, Former Chairman, ICICI Bank
The Good Company
This award recognises pioneering strategic initiatives undertaken by large business corporations, where they have used market-based models to balance the twin objectives of doing well, while also doing social good.
Winner: Jain Irrigation Systems
The Good Samaritan Award
This award is for an exceptional individual at any level in a company who has successfully led and galvanised support within the organisation to mount programs that help more people within that organisation to support worthy causes and give back to society.
Winner: Abraham Moses, Director, Administration & Facilities, MindTree Consulting
Distinguished Non-Resident philanthropist
This award is for a non-resident Indian who has contributed significantly to a social cause in India, by giving wealth, time and expertise.
Winner: Raj Loomba, Loomba Foundation
The Crossover Leader
This award seeks to recognise a professional who has successfully made the transition from a thriving career in the corporate world to work for the social or not-for-profit sector and has served as an inspiration and role model for others.
Winner: Nachiket Mor, Non-Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors at SughaVazhvu