November 15, 2007Public Policy

Dear Mr Nilekani

Indian philanthropers must open their wallets to improving governance

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

You are right. Indeed if the 21st century truly has to be India’s century, then the rich will have to open their wallets wide open”

Similarly in India, the number of charitable organizations began to explode at the same time in the 1980s that the market began to loosen up, and now there are close to 40,000 such Indian organizations, run primarily by individuals, private bodies and businesses.

Giving by Indians has certainly soared, but not enough. In a country with as much stark poverty and income disparity as India and which has just tentatively embraced free market ideology, it becomes all the more critical that the rich embrace philanthropy. It is the moral and ethical thing to do—but not only that. For the rich, philanthropy is also pragmatic. [Nandan Nilekani, Mint]But giving in the Indian context is not merely about more charity. Indeed, it is about investing in institutions that can improve governance. As you point out the performance gap between public governance and the private sector (is continuing) to grow”. A marginal investment in improving governance, therefore, will take you much further in helping India become a modern equitable free market democracy”.

The moral, ethical and pragmatic thing to do is not merely to open up your wallet to social responsibilities, but to political responsibilities as well.

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