Azim Premji, the founder-chairman of IT giant Wipro, is known as one of the most generous men in India. So much so, he topped the list of philanthropists in India last year with ₹ 7,904 crores in donations, according to EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2020.
After donating ₹1,125 crore for pandemic relief support in 2020, Premji committed an additional ₹ 1,000 crore of grants on July 6. The additional grant will be utilized on universal vaccination, Premji said at the foundation day event of the Bombay Chartered Accountants' Society.
Besides announcing the donation aid for the pandemic in April 2020, Wipro converted its facilities at Pune into hospitals. On Tuesday, Premji said that the focus is now on universal vaccination, as reported by The Times of India. Therefore, the additional ₹1000 crore donation will address that essential element of its COVID-19 relief strategy.
Premji termed the pandemic a once-a-century event and said that a comprehensive set of plans were drawn in the early days of the pandemic by Wipro's philanthropic arm to tackle both the humanitarian and health aspects. Teams were formed at a grassroots level, consisting of 1,600 full-time employees of Azim Premji Foundation, 55,000 employees working for its partners, 10,000 teachers and 2,500 alumni of Azim Premji University.
Against promoting students without teaching
The 75-year-old business tycoon and philanthropist invests a large chunk of his donation on education. He appeared to oppose promoting students to the next class strongly and said that steps should be taken to fill the gap of schooling that is affected due to the pandemic.
Premji suggested a graded approach, involving classes in open areas in neighbourhoods, vaccinating the teachers, and changing the education programmes to make up for the schooling time that is lost in the past one and a half years.
Contribution towards rural India
According to Premji, the foundation's efforts have benefitted 83 lakh people from rural communities. The most vulnerable communities regained their livelihoods after farmers were provided with seed and fertilizers, and poultry farmers and handicraft industry received working capital. He also highlighted the importance of collaborating with the government to extend aid deep into the country.
Premji said his mother, who ran a hospital for children, and Mahatma Gandhi have been his inspiration in becoming a philanthropist. He also said that he regrets having started his philanthropic initiatives so late in his life. He requested everyone to get on the field and witness the inequalities in society and do something to bring a change.