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Indian Billionaires Step Up

April 12, 2011

c/o India Times

We haven’t had a chance to write much about Bill Gates and Warren Buffett’s trip to India at the end of March.  It sounds like it went well, with almost 60 Indian billionaires meeting with the philanthropic duo and hearing about the Gates/Buffett pledge to give away more than half of their wealth.  Interestingly, more than half of the billionaires are self-made entrepreneurs.  The Huffington Post reports:

Gates, arriving in the Indian capital after a visit to the poor northern state of Bihar, said while he had no “measurable outcome” in mind from the meeting, he hoped it would encourage India’s richest to emulate other philanthropists.

At least one billionaire has stepped up – according to Philanthropy News Digest:

Grandhi Mallikarjuna Rao, chairman of the Bangalore-based GMR Group, has pledged $340 million to improve education among the most underserved segments of Indian society, the Times of India reports.

An editorial in India’s Economic Times raises some important issues about why the trip may not have been as successful as it could have been.  One gajillionaire says that he doesn’t need Americans telling him what and how to give.  And several others say that India should focus on making money right now, and giving will come later.  Yet another says that America offers better inheritance tax benefits than India, making giving there much more attractive.

All these comments sound like excuses to me.  Some Indian billionaires like Rao have stepped up – now the rest need to do the same.

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