22 December 2011

India Most Uncharitable Nation: Is it?

India has been listed South Asia’s most uncharitable nation as per the survey conducted by Charities Aid Foundation(CAF). India has been ranked 91 on the World Giving Index ranking. While our immediate neighbors fared much better with Sri Lanka being ranked at 8, Pakistan ranked 34 and Bangladesh and Nepal ranked 78 and 84 respectively.

The United States of America topped as the world’s most giving nation, followed by Ireland at the second spot and Australia on the third. This survey was based on three giving behaviors - donating money, volunteering time and helping a stranger. This survey also indicated that prosperity and giving do not always go hand in hand as only five nations that are in the World Bank's top 20 economies by GDP appear on the ‘Giving Index Top 20’ list. According to the survey, Asia has seen the biggest growth in giving, most notably South Asia which has gone up by 11 percentage.

The question raised here would be - Is India really the most uncharitable nation? India has been a nation of givers, but has a tradition of being “quiet” givers. According to India Philanthropy Report 2011 by Bain & Company, India is now one of the leaders in charitable giving, compared to other developing nations such as China and Brazil, but we still stand far behind developed nations. The main reason for this disparity is that individual donations in India constitute only 26 percent of all private charitable contributions whereas individual charitable donations in the U.S. total as much as 75 percent of all private giving and 60 percent in the UK.

 The Indian billionaires in the recent times have also directed their efforts towards making a difference in the philanthropic efforts in India. Billionaire Shiv Nadar of HCL Technologies decided to take the intelligent children from villages of rural India and send them to boarding schools while business tycoon, Azim Premji of Wipro transferred nearly 2 billion dollars of his wealth to a trust that focuses on education and children’s health and nutrition. Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, known as “India’s Warren Buffett,” pledged to give 25 percent of his fortune to charity in his lifetime.

Apart from individual donations, corporate giving in India has also been on a high rise as they become more aware of their social responsibility. The Philanthropy report, 2011 also suggests that the corporate giving in India now totals to 1.5 billion dollars, a considerable quintuple increase since 2006.

If India still had to be listed as an uncharitable nation then, one of the most important reasons would be the lack of accountability in some charitable organizations that avert giving. This highlights the concerns about governance, accountability, transparency and efficiency of administration.