“Is the rich world aware of how four billion of the six billion live? If we were aware, we would want to help out, we’d want to get involved.” This is a famous quote by Bill Gates – one of the greatest philanthropist of our times.
Good evening, my fellow ToastMasters and esteemed guests!
Would you believe, nearly half of the world’s population — more than 3 billion people — live on less than Rs. 100 (2.5 $) a day. According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty.
Poverty figures are even more alarming in India. In 2010, the World Bank reported that 75% live on less than Rs. 100 per day – out of estimated 1.27 billion Indian population, around 1 billion are still poor. And disgracefully, Every third poor person in the world is an Indian.
Let me try to explain what is Philanthropy. The word ‘Philanthropy’ is derived from Greek word which means love and compassion for humanity. Philanthropy can be understood as a form of Charity. The words charity and philanthropy are often used interchangeably, but there is a significant difference between the two. Charity tends to be a short-term, emotional, immediate response, focused primarily on rescue and relief, whereas philanthropy is much more long-term, more strategic, focused on rebuilding. Charity is giving today…philanthropy is doing forever.
Let me take instances of some of the greatest Philanthropist in the current generation.
The first name that comes to the mind when we talk about Philanthropist is of Bill Gates – the richest person in the world. He founded the largest philanthropic foundation in the world – Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Bill Gates has already given $28 billion to philanthropic activities, and has plans to eventually donate 95% of their wealth . The primary aims of the foundation is to enhance healthcare, reduce extreme poverty, and to expand educational opportunities and access to information technology.
In India, the concept of Philanthropy is not matured as in western nation, hence we don’t find many here. But still Azim Premji – Chairman of Wipro has set an example by donating $2 billion for improving school education in India, which is largest of its kind in India . Premji founded Azim Premji Foundation, which works in the area of elementary education for systemic change in India’s 1.3 million government-run schools.
Lastly, I would like to mention the name of the greatest living Philanthropist – Warren Buffet. He is sort of flag bearer of philanthropy and has encouraged other wealthy individuals to pool part of their fortunes for charitable purposes, including Bill and Premji. His thoughts about Philanthropy are revolutionary. He is against dynastic wealth and calls people who grow up in wealthy circumstances as “members of the lucky sperm club”. He has set his own example by declaring that his children will not inherit a significant proportion of his wealth. Rather, he has already donated $ 31 billion and plans to donate much more for Philanthropic activities.
There are hundreds of similar Philanthropists in western countries who work arduously for the benefits of mankind. However, we do not find much instances here in India even though we are one of the most poverty-stricken country in the World. I tried analyzing the reasons behind it and found that although we Indians already have some degree of compassion, at present it is very biased and limited. When our family and friends are suffering we easily develop compassion for them, but we find it far more difficult to feel sympathy for people we find unpleasant or for strangers. Wealthy individuals hoard money for their next generations instead of giving back to society, hence, not many people believe in Philanthropy in India. This is when India is called the land of most compassionate people like Lord Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda etc.
Philanthropy is also very rewarding. Those who participate describe a tremendous feeling of satisfaction. That feeling, propels people like Warren Buffet, Andrew Carnegie, Bill and Melinda Gates, or Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, Azim Premji to set up huge foundations and try to solve major world problems. And they don’t do it because they have to, but because they want to.
I also want to do something of real high impact so that I can make this planet a better place, hence becoming a philanthropist some day is a obvious choice.
Rather, aren’t we all capable of becoming philanthropists?
P.S. – Delivered this speech as my P2 (CC2) project at Toastmasters.