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Rs 8,800-cr boost for education

Philanthropy

The Rs 8,846-crore endowment that comes from Mr Azim Premji’s share transfer to an “irrevocable” trust will be used to fund various social, not-for-profit initiatives, including the Azim Premji University. Mr Azim Premji, Chairman of the Azim Premji Foundation, on Wednesday announced that he would transfer 2.13 crore equity shares (an 8.6 per cent stake) of Wipro Ltd held by certain entities controlled by him to a trust. The transfer will be effected by December 7. The trust is controlled by Mr Premji and he will continue to retain the voting rights of the transferred shares.Commenting on the development, Mr Karthik Ananth, Director-Market Expansion, Zinnov Management Consulting, said, “Since Mr Premji still holds voting rights, the share transfer has no correlation with the SEBI shareholding norms. This is more of a charitable act. Globally, people like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates do such charity. In India, corporates do at a small level. Very few family run businesses or big successful entrepreneurs do it in a big scale, the exceptions being the Mittals and now Mr Premji. And the areas the endowment will fund, be it education or teacher training, they will all feed into the ecosystem. This will perhaps set the precedent for other leaders to follow.”

As on September 30, Mr Premji and his family owned 79.36 per cent stake. Mr Premji personally owned 3.81 per stake and the Azim Premji Foundation has 0.44 per cent stake.

The Azim Premji Foundation was set up in 2001 and since then it has worked primarily in rural India, in partnership with various State Governments, to improve the quality of education. The foundation’s programmes across 25,000 schools have benefitted over 2.5 million children.

The efforts also include the Azim Premji University, which was recently approved by the Karnataka Government under a special legislative Act.

Objective

According to a statement, the University’s objective is to create education and development professionals of high calibre, with a “deep commitment to social causes and a desire to work in disadvantaged communities.” The university also aims create “deep knowledge in education and development through high quality research that is relevant to India.”

The University will be in Bangalore and aims to be operational in 2011.  The University hopes to be “multidisciplinary” in its approach, offering a range of programmes in Education Policy, Teaching and Learning, Education Psychology, Educational Leadership and Management, Education Technology, Education Research and Development Studies.

Mr Premji said, “We believe good education is crucial to building a just, equitable, humane and sustainable society. We want to contribute significantly towards improvement of education in India, and through that towards building a better society. The Foundation’s significant increase in scale and its clear focus on social purposes will require a substantial long-term financial commitment, which is the purpose this endowment will serve.”

Resource centres

The foundation will also “significantly” increase the number of its field level programmes and establish several State and district resource centres.

These centres will have “high quality” education and development professionals and other relevant resources to support schools, NGOs, district Institutes of education and training and other educational institutions in the district and at the State level, said a statement.

Business Line, December 2, 2010

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