Indian Philanthropy Lags Behind Accumulation of Wealth

Print Share on LinkedIn More

October 27, 2011; Source: Time World | While many of us think that the U.S. is very nonprofit-rich, India has a staggering 3.3 million NGOs with 700 new ones opening each day. It has 450 million people who are living in poverty and also has 57 billionaires, according to Forbes, as well as a rapidly increasing group of millionaires. According to Bain and Company, India’s 20 wealthiest individuals have doubled their combined wealth, but this super rich class is only giving between 1.5% and 3% of their yearly income, paling in comparison to the 9 percent donated each year in the U.S. “

Giving in India remains at fairly low levels across income strata. As in the U.S., giving in India goes largely to religious institutions—in this case temples—though in India temples operate schools and hospitals for those in need. “In the West there are a lot of things that are taken for granted that the state will provide, here these things are provided through the private sector, individuals, and community institutions, like the temple . . . That means in India people have to look after their own through the joint family, caste and other community institutions,” explains Gurcharan Das, author of The Difficulty of Being Good.

Das notes that it is a cultural issue, and that the growth of philanthropy In India will take time. “You have to measure that speed against the fact that money has just come to India. In America, there’s been 100 years of Carnegies and Rockefellers and time to build a certain tradition and culture. In India we’re telescoping all of this in 10 or 15 years.”—Ruth McCambridge