Daughters of Indian billionaires who have chosen to give it away

1 November 2013 05:22 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


There’s something about being born with the silver spoon.

While it assures you that you will lack nothing in life, it also seems to place an extra burden of social responsibility on your shoulders. Understandable of course – when you are the daughter of a billionaire who has a doting father and a fortune to inherit.

It comes with the territory that you can and you must give something back. It not only seems right but it also means that you have the opportunity to empower change in society. Money, after all, is an instrument of change indeed and what better way to bring change by touching and transforming hundreds of lives otherwise lived in dire circumstances?

India today is the land of the billionaires. With its economy in high gear and industries taking off, the Indian billionaires are no longer icons of business on the subcontinent alone but on the world stage as well. Billionaires like Mittal and Ambanis have carved a niche for themselves in the dynamic industrial landscape of India.  
While some of these industrialists have engaged in large scale charity projects as a form of CSR, it is their progeny who have typically graduated from leading first world universities to head back home and someday, take up the mantel of leading these multi billion conglomerates, who have chosen charity as a road map to find their own identities.

Isha Ambani
The older of the Ambani brothers, Mukeshand his charming wife Nita who when she had to shop for 25,000 pieces of chinaware for her home, chose to buy the 22 carat gold/platinum trimmed porcelain from Noritake here in Colombo rather than buy it in Mumbai where it would have cost a whole lot more, are parents to Isha, Akash and Anant. Isha, their daughter, is a Yale graduate and is said to be a down-to-earth and practical young woman who has opted to work with her mother at the Reliance Foundation. The Reliance Foundation engages in charity projects throughout India and the Ambani women personally supervise the projects, ensuring a hands-on approach is maintained.

Isha Ambani, often photographed alongside her elegant mother, is ranked second in the top ten young billionaire heiresses in India , following Vanisha Mittal Bhatia. In 2008, Isha, who was only 16 at the time and already the owner of the 80 million dollar share of the Reliance conglomerate, ranked second in the Forbes list of top ten billionaire heiresses.

Pia Singh
Pia Singh maybe a notch or two lower in rank than the Ambanis but nevertheless with Kushal Pal Singh who heads DLF, India’s largest real estate developer company as father,  she has chosen to engage in a project that empowers India’s youth.

Of the millions of college graduates entering the job market in India, few are paid what they are worth, according to estimates. A key component that the first time employees are missing is training and adequate preparation for employment. Sensing the need, Pia Singh, who handles the retailing offshoot of her father’s company,  chose to give $1 million of her savings last year to start the Skills Academy, with an investment from Pramod Bhasin, former head of outsourcer Genpact.
Their project trains young men and women in basic skills such as computer skills and English while also helping them to find jobs. Offered for a nominal fee, the service plans to charge more as the venture grows.  Already, they have been able to place 800 youngsters in organizations such as KFC and Pizza Hut, in jobs that go from data entry operators to security guards.

Nandini Piramal
India’s pharmaceutical giant Ajay Piramal’s 33 year old daughter Nandini Piramal handles the OTC drug division at Piramal Healthcare but her passion is  The Piramal Foundation ; ‘Sarvajal” which in Hindi means water for all, is their initiative to provide clean drinking water in rural India. They have already set up 150 water filtration systems across six states. The Piramal Foundation’s innovative water ATM , set up originally by the Foundation but now runs for profit, operates like a regular ATM except for the fact that it dispenses water instead of cash.  

Ananyashree Birla
Ananyashree Birla is just nineteen but as the daughter of Kumar Birla, who heads one of India’s richest conglomerates, is studying at Oxford University,  but has already initiated a micro loan project for rural women to start businesses of their own.

Forbes’ leading ladies
Recently, Forbes chose four leading ladies of Indian business as the leading pack of corporate philanthropy ;Anu Aga, who is dubbed the grand old dame of corporate India by the media, Rohini Nilekani, wife of IT industrialist NandanNilekani,  KiranNadar, wife of HCL head Shiv Nadar and independent art collector and Kiran Mazumdar Shaw of Biocon. Additionally, RoshniNadar and Nisa Godrej who also rank among India’s billionaire heiresses, not only have chosen simple living outside the glare of media and social circuits but also to engage in quiet but powerful charity projects.

According to media estimates, if India’s richest 100 chose to donate their fortunes to match Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, giving over US $ 250 billion, that would be enough to generate a quarter of India’s GDP. Figures aside, there seems to a higher purpose and a calling that has empowered India’s billionaire daughters to reach out to the world beyond their own sheltered, comfortable existence. India still has much poverty that needs addressing.  While running their respective businesses, these women have nurtured sustainable ventures with maximum social impact that goes beyond mere charity.

The power of money is to give it away” – Narayan Murthy

(Nayominiis  a senior journalist, writer and a PR professional and can be contacted at nayominiweerasooriya@gmail.com)

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