Azim Premji, chairman of Wipro, has allocated shares worth about Rs 52,750 cr to an endowment under the Azim Premji Foundation.
This means that the economic benefits of the shares — such as the money that can be obtained by selling or pledging them — can only be used for the activities of the foundation.
The foundation, in a statement, said that the total amount committed to philanthropic and charitable activities by Azim Premji has reached around Rs 1.45 lakh cr, or about $21 billion.
This includes 67% of all outstanding shares in Wipro.
It should be noted that Azim Premji, through the foundation, will continue to exercise voting rights corresponding to these shares, and will continue to control the IT services company.
However, the economic benefits will be entirely routed through the foundation and towards the stated objectives for which the foundation has been set up.
This makes Azim Premji arguably the biggest philanthropist in Indian history.
The Azim Premji Foundation works in the field of education directly. It also supports other not-for-profits working in some specific areas through multi-year financial grants.
In terms of direct intervention, the foundation tries to improve the quality and equity of the public (government) schooling system in partnership with various state governments, such as those of Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Puducherry, Telangana, and Madhya Pradesh. It also works in the north-eastern states of India.
“The Foundation’s field strategy focuses on creating and scaling up a network of institutions at the District and State levels, to contribute to improvement in the school education system on a continued and sustained basis,” it said.
The Foundation has also set up the Azim Premji University in Bangalore for developing professionals in the domains of education and related areas.
It offers various kinds of degree programs, education programs and research opportunities in various fields, including courses such as MA Education, MA Development, LLM and MA Public Policy, as well as BA, BSc and B Sc B Ed.
The initiative to support other not-for-profits by providing multi-year grants was started in 2014 by the Foundation.
“This enabled the expansion of its philanthropic efforts to domains other than education that are crucial to contributing towards its vision,” the foundation said.
“The grants support efforts of partners that directly or indirectly help create tangible improvements in the lives of deeply disadvantaged, under-served and marginalized sections of our society. In the last five years, these grants have supported over 150 organizations engaged in a range of domains across India,” it added.
It said it expects to significantly scale up its activities in the coming years.
“The team driving the field work in education is expected to grow significantly from the current 1600 people, while the university will expand to have 5000 students with 400 faculty members across multiple programs,” it said.
It also has plans to set up a second university in the northern part of India.
“The grant-making activities will also continue to expand rapidly, growing three times from its current levels, supporting good work across multiple domains of social importance in India. Overall, this strategy and its expansion aims to contribute meaningfully to developing a more just, equitable, humane and sustainable society in India,” it said.