Corporate musings

Don’t only take …. Give too


There were two news items last week that were heartwarming and slightly different from the regular. We see news everyday about greed, about one upmanship, getting ahead and making busloads of money. Then the economic slowdown, the rich becoming richer and the divide just expanding. Crime graphs soaring, defaulters galore, Swiss bank accounts becoming fatter – all pointing to human beings just “taking” and not “giving” enough.

India especially, does not have a great giving culture in the corporate world. You don’t hear about entrepreneurs and big corporates donating money to charity easily. The new Companies act hopefully will rectify the situation but it’s already being watered down. The strictures for non-compliance have already been softened. Sad. The only two names that we hear when we speak of CSR or Corporate giving are the Tatas and Azim Premji. Worldwide it’s ofcourse Bill Gates.

In this scenario, when you hear that two young entrepreneurs ended up being amongst the biggest givers last year, it’s heart warming. Marc Zuckerberg, the Facebook man, was the biggest donor last year in the US, donating $970 Million worth of shares to a Silicon Valley non-profit. Even more heart warming was Ronnie Screwvala, founder of media house UTV, that was bought out by Disney, becoming one of the biggest donors by giving away 350 Crores. These two represent a generation of entrepreneurs who did not come from rich families, but made it big by themselves and chose to give away a lot of their wealth much sooner than some of the older generation of entrepreneurs. Bill Gates and Narayana Murthy and Azim Premji are big donors and have done a lot, but started a little later in life, after they were well settled. The other name from India that comes to mind is Kiran Majumdar Shaw, the biotech lady, who has been big on giving and very early in her entrepreneurial journey.

Read about Ronnie Screwvala and Marc Zuckerberg on the following links –

Ronnie Screwvala – venture capital and philanthropy

Zuckerberg biggest giver

Corporate India needs to encourage giving, and community development must be an important goal. The conscious capitalism movement has to get strengthened as that will be the new order. The 70 million strong Gen Y that will join the corporate world, is altruistically inclined. They want meaningful work and firms that provide opportunity for volunteering, are themselves big donors for social causes.

Remember, there has been so much “taking” that 85 of the richest people in the world have wealth equal to the 3.5 billion poorest people. Time to give and give freely !

Important reading –

World’s richest have same wealth as 3.5 billion poorest

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4 replies »

  1. Hi Bindu – Fully agree on the fact that Corporate India is fractured when it comes to giving and activities on CSR. Intrestingly, apart from FB, Tata, UTV, Wipro, Infy, Biocon, 2 other corporates that I closely follow (apart from others) are Target and Unilever. Both these corporate houses are hugely involved in CSR activities, both at a global and India level and very active participants in this area. In fact, one of the recent talkshows @ TED, Harish Manwani passionately spoke about CSR initiatives as a key area from a social responsibility POV. Also, recently, I was also reading somewhere that HUL, Tata and Star Bazaar have joined hands together to promote education among the underprivileged children.

    But, I agree there’s lot more to be done in this area and there has to be responsibilities owned across levels and sectors to drive this more strongly. With Ronnie breaking off from Media & Entertainment sector, it will be interesting to see what he does next.

    Very good insight overall 🙂

    Regards,
    Bala.

    • Yes Bala, Unilever is very committed to sustainability. Paul Polman is turning the giant into an Earth friendly firm. I had written about his interview a couple of months back. Krishnan and I are big fans of Unilever. Didn’t know much about Target’s CSR efforts. Will check those out.

  2. Indian or Indians do not have a great “giving” culture is because of the way we are bought up from childhood, we are thought and lived by the institutional values built in us where we value individual excellence and not being part of a community/society – such a culture is imbibed in us, hopefully it will change as you put it across with examples such as Mr. Ronnie

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