In 2019, Shiv Nadar, the billionaire founder of HCL Technologies, was India’s top philanthropist. As the third richest Indian, his personal wealth, “based only his shareholding in listed listed companies, including HCL Technologies and HCL Infosystems,” according to the CSR Journal, is around Rs 15,000 crore. Nadar sets aside around 10 percent of this for his philanthropy, to which he devotes up to 40 percent of his time. His daughter Roshni has also followed in his footsteps, choosing social entrepreneurship over running the family business.
Nadar, who was deeply influenced by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, created his own philanthropic model. “I think I can build an institution, which is very unlike the Gates’ Foundation, which is totally project-driven,” he says, explaining what he refers to as ‘Creative Philanthropy.”
“It is good to start as young as you can. What is more important is to carve out your vision and assess your readiness to start giving. Commitment and purpose are core to giving.”
Out of this came the Shiv Nadar Foundation, which works mainly in education. His first project, which began over 15 years ago, happened through the SSN College of Engineering, which he named after his father. Nadar’s focus was on skill development in youth, his attempt to bridge the gap, he says, between education and employability. Over the years, he built three more SSN Institutions – the SSN School of Management and Computer Applications, the SSN School of Advanced Software Engineering (in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon) and the SSN Research Centre. These institutions also offer scholarships to the tune of US $7 million.
“Education is and will be the most powerful tool for individual and social change, and we must do all that it takes to facilitate it.”
Nadar also set up the VidyaGyan Schools in Uttar Pradesh, which follow a merit-based system to spot and nurture talent in rural kids as well as to bridge the gap in the country’s leadership pool. The schools work with children who come from families with an annual income of under Rs 1 lakh a year. He is also a great patron of art, through the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art in Delhi, India’s first private philanthropic museum, which promotes contemporary and modern art from India and the subcontinent.
“We need a world class institution which will create leaders out of the children who have not had a good start in life.”