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Indian Billionaire Pledges $2 Billion to Support Education

December 2, 2010

Wipro Ltd. chairman Azim Premji has pledged $2 billion (Rs 8,846) to help improve education in India, the Times of India reports.

The gift will fund the educational activities of the Azim Premji Foundation, which works mainly with schools in rural India, and will include support for Azim Premji University in Bangalore. With funding from the foundation, the university will enroll two hundred students in 2011, increasing the number to two thousand over five years, and will offer graduate courses in education and development. The funds also will be used to create district-level institutions that work to support improvements in Indian education, especially in disadvantaged areas.

Premji, the third richest man in India, with a net worth of $18 billion, will transfer 213 million shares of Wipro to the Azim Premji Trust in order to fulfill the pledge. The announcement of the gift, the largest ever by an Indian, comes at a time when many in India have been criticizing successful Indian entrepreneurs for making gifts to U.S. universities rather than addressing social problems in their homeland.

“I’m completely committed to supporting the larger ambition of creating the required social change,” said Premji. “We believe that good education is crucial to building a just, equitable, humane, and sustainable society….We want to contribute significantly towards improvement of education in India, and through that towards building a better society.”

“Azim Premji Pledges $2bn to Foundation.” The Times of India 12/01/10.

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