Two 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. Through the Giving Pledge campaign launched by them last year, the two have called upon other rich people to make a conscious commitment and have also gone public with their pledges in an effort to motivate others.
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.