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Mar 25, 2011, 09.19 PM IST
Two of the top three richest peoTwo of the world's richest men, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are in New Delhi and have taken the initiative to convince Indian billionaires to join in their philanthropic efforts.
If billionaires around the world pledge to contribute what is being dubbed by the duo as 'moral commitment', about USD 600 billion could be generated for philanthropic causes.
Speaking to the media in New Delhi, Bill Gates said, "We have had discussions in the United States on a number of occasions and a few months ago we had one in China. A lot of people there are very open about why they give and I feel like we learned a lot. Here in India I think some of the people who are doing similar work will be able to partner together and be better philanthropists because of this opportunity to talk with each other."
Gates' wife Melinda who is the co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said, "I have felt like it has been a great honour to get to know a lot of people in India, particularly who are already involved in philanthropy. India itself has a great history of giving back and it certainly has influenced us. But getting to hear today people's interest in philanthropy, what they are already doing, there were a lot of questions of Azim (Premji) about what he and his wife were doing in education, there is so much to be done in India and it is great to hear philanthropists talking about where they might give back themselves."
Buffett who earlier in the day met with various industrialists like Adi Godrej, Analjit Singh, Rakesh Jhunjhunwala and Naina Lal Kidwai at the Oberoi Hotel said, "This is my first trip to India, I have just been here a few days. But I think it’s an extraordinary thing, but nothing more extraordinary than the experience we have had tonight. Tonight we with a group of people who I atleast met very few of them before, there was a level of standard, level of participation, it was dramatic, everybody participated, there was exceptional participation and we heard some great stories. We learned a great deal and I just want to thank people who came to that dinner for teaching me a great deal about what’s going on in India and giving me great encouragement about what will be going on in India."
In what was one of the largest philanthropic causes seen in India's history, recently, Wipro chairman Azim Premji announced that he will donate nearly USD 2 billion to fund education and development programmes in India. Premji hailed Gates and Buffett's efforts to get billionaires commit to a worthy cause.
Excerpts from a press conference. Also watch the accompanying videos.
Q: I just want to know many of the Indian industrialists have been saying for quite some time that the reason why they are not able to give too much to charities because they are first generation entrepreneurs and they are just leaving their wealth for their next generation so have you been able to force them out of that viewpoint and give a new viewpoint to them? And of course just to add on, many of these Indian political classes also has lot of wealth so any plans to coax them to give some of it for charity?
Melinda Gates: I will take that part of the question which was we are seeing just the opposite of that first generation wealth. We have heard from a lot of people who have said that they made the money and they are very interested in giving it back to the society. They know there is a lot of need in India and a lot of that was also discussed by hearing some other people about where can you make a difference and have an impact and a lot of them are thinking about using not only their wealth but their business skills to give back.
Bill Gates: Our experience worldwide is that first generation wealth is actually more generous than dynastic wealth. Both here in India and in the United States and other countries really, the biggest givers are those who are receiving first generation wealth. So, the fact that India over the last 20 years has developed these incredible success stories means that very high percentage of them, in their own, way will be giving back to the society. The boundaries between the corporate giving and the personal giving, as the companies get bigger, as the families decide what their goals are, I think those things become more distinct. I think a lot of people in the room heard about things other people are doing that will inspire them and we will see people working together.
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