“Philanthropy isn’t just about writing a cheque. That’s the easiest thing. Get deeply involved with a cause. It is not a rule. It is how I think. I don’t pick up many causes, just one or two and I’m actively involved with at least one of them. For me, it is education for the underprivileged and human rights,” Anu Aga remarked while speaking on the theme of thoughtful giving, a subject close to her heart at one of the editions of Times Lit Fest.
The Indian billionaire businesswoman and social worker who led Thermax, an energy and environment engineering business, as its chairperson from 1996 to 2004 has now devoted her life to social work.
Along with her family the philanthropist holds the majority of stake for the listed company, Thermax which was started by her father. Anu has committed 30 percent of the family’s income from Thermax’s dividends towards philanthropic causes.
A business has the financial muscle, the managerial knowledge, and many people working. If we can mobilise them to take up at least one cause and focus on it by volunteering, by getting involved and really seeing that you make an impact; then nothing like it, because business cannot succeed in a society that fails.
Anu stepped down as the chairperson of Thermax in 2004 and since then has been majorly involved in its non-profit CSR wing, the Thermax Foundation and its social causes.
With the primary focus on education for the underprivileged, Anu is on board of Akansha that runs 21 schools in Mumbai and Pune through a PPP agreement with the municipal corporations. Thermax Foundation has been supporting expenses of five schools.
Every leader should possess passion because without passion you cannot mobilise people. Any leader either in Asia, America or Europe can affect the world if he or she has some impactful ideas.
Ever since its inception Anu has been associated with Teach For India (TFI) campaign. With the mission of addressing inequality in education, she has been extensively involved in bringing women in the forefront to eradicate disparities in education.
Anu Aga was awarded Padma Shri for her social work initiatives in 2010. Born in a Parsi Zoroastrian family in Bombay, she graduated with a B.A. in Economics from St Xavier’s College, Mumbai. After post-graduation in medical and psychiatric social work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, she went on to study as a Fulbright Scholar in the United States for four months.
With primary focus on education of underprivileged children, Thermax Foundation also supports initiatives related to energy and environmental solutions such as air pollution control, water and waste remedies, and more.