NEW DELHI >> Indian technology mogul Azim Premji has announced he will donate nearly $2 billion to fund education and development programs in India’s villages in one of the largest charitable donations in the country’s history.
Premji, chairman of Wipro Ltd., India’s third-largest software services exporter, said Wednesday he would transfer 213 million shares worth 88.4 billion rupees ($1.95 billion) in the company to the Azim Premji Foundation by Dec. 7.
The trust is controlled by Premji, and he will continue to retain the voting rights of the transferred shares, the foundation and the company said in separate statements.
India’s economy has surged in recent years, creating a new class of super wealthy entrepreneurs. India’s newly rich — Forbes says the country now has 69 billionaires — have been criticized for lagging in charitable giving.
The foundation will use the new infusion of money to fund education programs and other initiatives in rural India as well as a new university it is establishing in Bangalore.
“We believe that good education is crucial to building a just, equitable, humane and sustainable society. We want to contribute significantly towards improvement of education in India, and through that towards building a better society,” Premji said in a statement.
Forbes lists Premji as 3rd richest Indian and the 28th richest person in the world with an estimated net worth of more than $17 billion.
In September, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and investor Warren Buffett traveled to China to persuade the super rich there to donate some of their wealth to charity. They American billionaires said they would try to hold a similar event in India next year.