The whole world recognises Bill Gates and Warren Buffet as two of the wealthiest influentials in the planet. However, very few are aware that Gates and Buffet pioneers the list of 154 billionaires who have pledged to donate more than half of their riches to charity.
In 2010, Bill and Melinda Gates joined hands with Warren Buffet to launch and commit to the Giving Pledge, which mandates them to posthumously give away 50% or more of their wealth to a wide variety of social causes, ranging from poverty alleviation to environmental conservation.
Over the years, billionaires and millionaires around the world have come forward to join the Giving Pledge. From India, prominent personalities like Azim Premji, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw and Rohini Nikelani also enlisted themselves in the list of signatories.
Living My Promise pledge in India
“If billionaires are hailing the idea of such a pledge, why not offer a similar opportunity to hundreds of Good Samaritans among affluent Indians?”, thought Girish Batra, an active participant of Kailash Satyarthi’s annual Daan-Utsav (Joy of Giving Week).
Around August-September last year, Girish floated the idea among his social circle of do-gooders. A few of them instantly consented to come on board. Together, they launched the #LivingMyPromise pledge which encourages well-to-do Indians to set an example in sacrifice and sharing.
“We created a website and invited like-minded individuals to join our platform. Many of them have their own NGOs and welfare trusts, while others are actively involved in the developmental sector. It didn’t take long for our list of pledge-takers to grow substantially,” Girish shares.
Some of the important signatories
Prominent personalities including famous actor Rahul Bose have pledged with #LivingMyPromise, along with families and couples who connect deeply with the cause.
“I shifted to the development sector around four years ago and ever since then, I have nurtured the idea of donating at least half of my wealth to charity at some point in life. So when I came across the #LivingMyPromise pledge, it took me just a second to commit to it. I knew that finally, my longstanding wishes would see an assured outcome,” reveals Atul Satija, a young social entrepreneur.
“Our needs are very limited, but our wants know no end,” he adds. He believes that a lot of people from a privileged background harbour the compassion to serve the needy. “If you truly want to give back to the society that nourishes you, there is no better time to start than today,” Atul urges everyone to be a part of the #LivingMyPromise pledge.
“You don’t take anything with you”
Rushabh, an author, businessman and philanthropist, thinks that kindness should be the only religion. A few years ago he had already pledged eleven of his vital organs. “I further promise to give away at least 50 per cent of my wealth to those who are less fortunate, to be able to lead a life well deserved,” he resolves.
“It was an instinctive decision for me to join the pledge as soon as I came to know about it on Facebook. When I shared my wish to my family, I received overwhelming support from my teenage son and my wife,” he shares.
Rushabh strongly believes, “In the end, you don’t take anything with you. It’s better that you put it in a good cause before it’s too late.”
The couple who pledged to students in poverty
All their life, Uma Kathyayini and her husband Javali Ramantha have worked as engineers with the state government of Karnataka. After retirement, the duo decided to start the GHVS welfare trust to provide financial assistance to poor but meritorious students in Gubbi, a township around 90 km from Bengaluru as well as within Bengaluru itself. They were one of the leading signatories of the #LivingMyPromise pledge.
“In my youth, I had received financial support from well-wishers to pursue my engineering degree, so I thought I should give it back to the students who need it now. That’s how GHVS trust came to fore,” informs Kathyayini.
One morning while leafing through the newspaper, Kathyayini came across a news about #LivingMyPromise. The idea really moved her, and before long, she and her husband registered for the same, to donate over half of their wealth to their trust. She is now content that her sacrifice would be able to help the society even in her absence.
Efforts For Good take
While globally the Giving Pledge is being acknowledged by billionaires, India is yet to see large-scale participation from rich businessmen and industrialists for a similar cause. Ironically, India happens to be a country with a stark economic disparity – housing a few of the world’s richest as well as a major portion of the world’s poorest population. In such a scenario, Efforts For Good urges more and more individuals to come forward and commit to the #LivingMyPromise pledge to envision a better and more poised future society.