[Answered] India has had a rich culture of philanthropy, primarily through social networks and religious institutions. However, now it is critical to reimagine its role and create a new discourse of philanthropy. Discuss.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Explain the rich culture of philanthropy in India. Also, write some measures to create a new discourse of philanthropy.Conclusion: Write a way forward.

The culture of philanthropy is as old as India itself, which has a history spanning thousands of years. The process of industrialization that began in the 19th century created significant amounts of wealth that business families could devote to philanthropic projects. Early charitable efforts led to a period of more institutionalized giving for vital causes like education and health.

Rich culture of philanthropy:

  • Inspired by conversation with Swami Vivekananda, Sir Jamsetji Tata pledged half his wealth to establish the Indian Institute of Science (IISC).
  • Mahatma Gandhi believed that ownership of wealth must be held primarily in trusteeship for the benefit of the poor, a view also shared by Jamnalal Bajaj, G.D. Birla, Ardeshir Godrej and Dr. K.A. Hamied.
  • In 1935, Dr. K.A. Hamied established Cipla to make India self-reliant and create wide access to quality healthcare.
  • Philanthropists have helped found educational institutes, such as the Birla Institute of Technology in Pilani (G.D. Birla), the Indian Institute of Management (Kasturbhai Lalbhai) and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (Sir Dorabji Tata) that remain prominent even today.
  • Many families have established foundations and trusts that work directly with local communities to address critical issues like healthcare, quality education, skill building and livelihood generatio
  • Beyond philanthropy, Indian family businesses upheld social responsibility as a core value. Godrej’s ‘good and green’ approach to building a more inclusive and greener

Covid revealed systemic inequalities in our society, as the most disadvantaged sections were disproportionately impacted. So, there is need to create a new discourse of philanthropy:

  • Include areas that are vital for common prosperity such as gender justice, digital rights and economic and social empowerment of disadvantages sections of society.
  • Address the structural causes of poverty and inequality by nurturing and strengthening institutions and policy change for a just society that benefits all.
  • Construct philanthropy for social justice. Focus on complex social challenges, investing in high-need underserved areas, making their giving more outcome-oriented and aimed at catalysing population level systemic change.
  • Creating an appropriate knowledge infrastructure and reliable funding mechanisms will encourage others to join force and eventually various scattered efforts will begin to leverage each other.
  • Greater investment in understanding community philanthropy and other more participatory and inclusive models of philanthropy for sustainable social change is required.

Charitable giving is laudable but embedding justice in giving is transformational. Towards the next 75 years, philanthropists can help build an inclusive India where a billion thrive with dignity and equity.

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