Vignette: The Geographies and Scales of Philanthropy Philanthropy in India

Authored by: Emily Jansons , Femida Handy

The Routledge Companion to Philanthropy

Print publication date:  May  2016
Online publication date:  May  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415783255
eBook ISBN: 9781315740324
Adobe ISBN: 9781317579717


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Philanthropy in India is simultaneously age-old and new, easy and difficult. On the one hand deep-rooted cultural customs and religious beliefs have defined India’s philanthropic traditions, and continue to do so. Historically, much of India’s wealth has come from the land or other traditional forms of capital. As part of this, wealthy families, except a few notable exceptions, such as the Tatas, often emphasized religious giving rather than charitable philanthropy. On the other hand, India, over the past few decades, has seen a generation of new skills-based professionals from more diverse backgrounds gain wealth in new sectors. These are usually linked to the global economy, such as information technology. This has created both the wealth and the conditions for a novel kind of Indian philanthropy that reflects various global models. These new philanthropists have greater interest in pursuing systemic change, using markets, and incorporating their experience from business and abroad. In this vignette, we give two examples to illustrate these emerging trends in Indian philanthropy. The first focuses on the Indian philanthropist Rohini Nilekani; the second on the Dasra foundation.

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