My wife Aparna and I have signed the “LivingMyPromise” pledge to donate at least 50% of our wealth during our lives or in our wills. We do not see this as something special or remarkable, and believe that if we all did this, we would be contributing to creating a more compassionate, caring and equitable society.
The primary reason we are planning to make this donation is that we do not have a personal need or use for the money. Both of us lead simple lives and apart from the fairly high medical expenses that one of us has had in the last few years, we do not have major expenses. Our home and car, for example, have always been modest.
Second, we do not have children, and there are no friends or close relatives who need this money. They are mostly well-settled and able to take care of themselves.
Third, both my wife and I have tended to believe that we have a responsibility to contribute to make the world a better place. We have different interests and passions – ranging from the arts to spirituality and contributing for the well-being of the poor. While we have sporadically supported these causes, we wanted to do something more substantial and this seemed the best way.
My main work and passion has been about making a difference through education – specifically educational research. The company I am associated with also works in this area. My wife and I have both believed in the transformational power of education to help people jump ahead to a higher level of thinking and standard of living. I believe that investing in research related to this – rather than helping needy students through a grant or donation – eventually helps more students. In our case, this is where we intend to direct most of our contribution.
I also believe that the wealth any of us acquire eventually comes from society. For example, I was fortunate to receive high quality engineering (Indian Institute of Technology) and management (Indian Institute of Management) education, which is heavily subsidised by the government. I would probably have achieved much less without the learnings and experienced gained there.
For all these reasons, we do plan to donate not just 50% but much more of our wealth in the areas mentioned above.
I remember after completing my engineering, people asked me if I would be going to the United States. I felt then as I have seen firsthand now, that it is easy for some of us to choose an option that makes life comfortable for ourselves. But the real challenge is to do something that can help make life in India easier– not just for ourselves – but a larger number of Indians.
In a way, contributing to the LivingMyPromise is an extension of that same effort. If more of us join in the endeavour, I can see that goal become a reality in the coming few years.
Sridhar Rajagopalan is president, Educational Initiatives Pvt Ltd., an entrepreneur, educationist and a #LivingMyPromise signatory.
The views expressed are personal
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