GD Monday – “The Indian philanthropist is an Oxymoron” – Week 8

We hope all of you are benefiting from our online GDs and taking home some valuable tips to apply them in the real time GDs that are soon to follow for most call-getters! You can go through all the topics in the series over here.. You can share your views on the topic in the comments section.. (All the comments/views in the discussion are being rated on a scale of 10 by our experts, along with an explanation)

This week’s topic may appear a little tough to some but it provides plenty of scope to talk and differentiate oneself by doing some good research.

This is how it will work :

1) Users can post their arguments or views using their Twitter/Wordpress/OpenID accounts in the comments section below.

2) You can argue and counter-argue on the topic for the entire week.

3) The thread will be moderated by Team InsideIIM to ensure the discussion is kept relevant and is not abusive.

4) On Saturday, experts and industry professionals at InsideIIM (all ex-IIM,XLRI,ISB only) will rate each argument on the thread on the scale of 10 with some guidance.

This cannot replace the experience of the actual GD but this exercise will surely help you shape your line of thought. While we may not be able to help you here with your delivery, we ensure that if you go through these next few weeks with us on this thread you will markedly improve your content. Hopefully, there will be more substance when you actually speak in a GD after going through this exercise.


You can go through all the topics in the series over here


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Hi, First philanthropist in Modern India usually suffers many controversies or consequences regarding their approach for human welfare, which usually includes opposing the norms made by the some ruling or past associations. Some of their ways to serve country’s people and welfare is very annoying for some political parties.

Considering Anna Hazare who went fasting for 10 days to get an appropriate anti corruption bill passed by the government is still on hold. Apart from that the government has charged that some of Anna’s team many members are associated with coal mining scams, may be true or false but everyone got a lesson that it is truly tough to alter a bad perspective of an object to a good one. Also Arvind Kejriwal who left behind his possible lavishing life to serve country’s welfare, he was also badly accused by some people against whom Arvind wants to stand. But still, men who wants to be good are always having perfect determinism in them self. Also they are even ready to question their own friend when truth comes in between them. I will call them an oxymoron because we may expect that their way of exploring facts will bear fruit in a very peace full manner but sometime it is totally Ironic.


1/10. Err. Sandeepan. You make a passionate case but the problem is that you haven't understood the topic. If it is your interpretation, it is to far fetched to fetch any marks! Sorry. But you seem to articulate well and thats a plus point!


While Anna Hazare is an inspiring social activist I don’t think he can be called a philanthropist. A philanthropist is a person (or an institution) who contributes towards bettering the lives of his fellow human beings (anthrope).

In the Indian context, there have been many great people who’ve made significant contributions in this direction and have been quite successful at it. I work at Infosys and would like to mention Infosys Foundation championed by Sudha Murthy in the late nineties that is doing a tremendous job at improving rural welfare and helping the underprivileged. Infosys Ltd makes a contribution of 1 percent profit after tax to the Foundation. Another legendary philanthropist is Jamsedji Tata who donated half of his own wealth to facilitate the setting up of the Indian Institute of Science. His son JRD Tata carried the legacy forward and set up several other institutes like TISS, a center for cancer research, off the top of my head.

India is also a country with some very well planned socially relevant private initiatives like Aravind Eyecare hospital in Madurai that provides world class eye care to the underprivileged at very low costs, Jaipur Foot that provides prosthetic legs free of cost, Pratham an NGO which works at educating children in the slums and many more. Among our friends I’m sure we know of at least a few people who’ve joined Teach for India or have worked at NGOs through school and college.

I admit that there are a lot of pertinent issues in this sector that need to be addressed – lack of organization, lack of vision and direction, misappropriation and siphoning of funds, and it is perhaps from there that the idea of Indian philanthropy being oxymoronic occurs.I'd like to point out that these are not specific to India and are relevant when looked at from a global perspective as well.

However, it would be tragic if the good work done by honest, inspired individuals/institutions are dismissed this way just because of a few rotten eggs.


7.5/10. Good argument and well articulated with examples. You could have done even better if you had stated a few numbers on how much % charity/philantrophy is done in India. But we hope you have more points in the discussion as people will be short of points in general and the panel may look at you to show some depth. Ensure you are one of the first few speakers.


With 57 billionaires and two in the world's top-10 rich list, I agree that Indians are not giving enough. But, we cannot simply disregard many Indian Philanthropists and say Indian Philanthropist is an oxymoron.

I guess every one would have read about the historic hero karnan. Why should we go to history? We have lot of examples of contemporary Indian philanthropists. Azim Premji has pledged $2 billion to the Azim Premji Foundation. G.M.Rao donated 1540 crores in 2012 for charitable purposes through GMR Varalakshmi Foundation. Shiv Nadar has given 580 crores through Shiv Nadar Foundation. Both GMR and Shiv Nadar Foundation works in the education field. The list will go in with Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, Kalpana Morparia.

All of them remain role models for others to come forward. I accept that many rich people are reluctant to give their wealth. This could be attributed to the fact that many feel insecure about whether the money they give reach the right people. But now the situation has changed a lot. There are a lot of NGOs known for their transparence and credibility. The question with many people now has changed from 'Why should I give?' to 'Who should I give to?' and 'What should I give?'.

Though slow, the change is happening.


7/10 – Good argument with numbers. You should have focussed on overall India numbers to have scored a 9 or even a 10. But good attempt.


Let's investigate this topic from a new perspective, the word "Indian".

Agreed that there are people who donate a lot and set examples for others to follow in being a philanthropist. However, there are also people who donate to save some income tax and in the process, like being called a philanthropist. Now this is not known to many that who is donating for a genuine cause and who is donating for an underlying selfish cause.

The first group of people are genuine philanthropists, who are truly altruistic in their attitudes, and often try to donate/help people in a secretive way, without any expectations for generation of fame.

The second group of people do just the opposite, in order to save some money through legal means (tax rebates and so on), donate and take up some fame as its by-product, often searching for avenues which would channel their money back to them. By any means, these kind of people are not philanthropists.

Considering the arguments put above, I feel that it would be safe to infer that there are two diverse group of people, and strictly speaking, the statement that "The Indian philanthropist is an oxymoron" is only a half truth.


5/10. Your logic may not be acceptable to all. You brought in a new point with philantrophy as a means to save tax. But you should have stated it and left the point. The extension was not helpful and showed that you didnt have too many other things to talk about.


Philanthropy is one of the intrinsic charaterstics of the Indian Culture.We have since immemorial,out of this love for mankind,assimilated people from all over the world as our own,welcomed them and shared with them what ever little we had .In fact Indian tourism often uses 'Athiti Devo Bhava' in their campaigns.The Indian history has numerous examples of people who have lead a live of pain ,who had given up their comforts, for the upliftment of their fellow beings.From Mahatma Gandhi,who endured so much to get freedom for India and who worked for upliftment of harjans to the recent ones to Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejrival. These all have had one motive in mind -betterment of the society.

But as always there are two sides of the coin.There have been people who have criticized the works of Anna,Kejriwal or the Yoga Guru Ramdev.It might be the case that these people have an ulterior motive.But one cant generalize on the basis of few examples.Also there are numerous dimensions to philantrophy .It could be in terms of charity to the poor to protest against injustice.
Lets look at the recent case of massive public uproar for the rape victim.Everyone ,bcoz of humanity, came out on the streets.People were on the roads and in this case there was no instigation by any political party and yes there was no 'ulterior motive'.Each person ,a philanthrpist in his own way, protested so that the future and the presnt generation of girls be safe and secure and we have been successful to a great extent by accepting the recos of Justive verma's report.These numerous people can vastly outnumber the people quoted above and clearly defy that the philanthrophist is an oxy moron.


5.5/10 – Interesting perspective but we believe it may not fetch too many points in the GD. Way too many concepts have been mixed up here. Delhi Rape Outrage = philantrophy? Probably not.


An Indian philanthropist treat CSR or philanthropy to hide the crooked dealings. Take the example of Satyam, Ramlinga Raju's Byrraju foundation took the IT to the villages. The foundation setup several rural infrastructure including schools, hospitals, sanitation awareness etc. It even setup rural BPO for providing jobs to the poor. Raju even started a emergency ambulance service that promised to reach the injured or sick within 30 mins. He was even awarded UK's CSR award in 2008. This all duped people into believing that his cause was genuine and in the shadow of all this he was cooking the account books that led to inflated share prices of his company. Satyam scandal was the biggest in the corporate India and it teaches a lesson that more often in India philanthropy is often a cloak for misgovernance and corruption.

Ashish Deshpande

Though philanthropy has become a popular term with leading businesses and businessmen, we need to analyze the extent to which it has spread and the benefits the recipients are reaping from the same. Major business houses like Godrej, TATA and Infosys do contribute to the society and come up with good result. But at times this contribution is made with special intentions, such as educating farmers children so that farmers support the firm in doing business. thus, in some cases, it just turns out another symbiotic deal which gets the name of charity!
Whenever social work is done with the intention of gaining benefits, it will always be regarded as oxymoronic!

Kabeer Rathore

Philanthropy has always been a innate part of the culture of our religious democracy, where-in since the very childhood we are imbued with the thoughts of serving the society as a whole. May it be the phenomena of fasting or donating to needy all relate to an ingrained thought of acquiring a spiritual high ground, a positive in the cycle of karma or the blissful after life often referred as "moksha" . India has been the harbinger of people bequeathing materialistic pleasures in the larger good of society and using the success they have acquired to uplift the life of those who for no fault of there have been caught in the mires of no success, examples range from Verghese kurien the milkman to Rajendra Singh the waterman of india

Sayali Patil

Indian culture has always been generous to help the needy and poor. The philanthropists bears testament to that. However, we should also investigate whether the money or the help they provide for the betterment of society comes from fair means or not. The famous Indian American philanthropist Mr.Rajat Gupta set up Indian American foundation which helped the survivors of Earthquake, found Indian School of business to promote management education.With an immense interest in curbing tuberculosis and malaria, he worked as founding chairman of Public Health Foundation of India. But he faces charges of selling insider trading secrets for money.There are others like Tata, Birla or Ambani who give scholarships to meritorious students. Every coin has two sides.


Philanthropy is instilled deep in Indian culture.Earlier Philanthropy was closely connected to Religion.
People did good in the name of religion. Slowly people realized that it was better to spend on needy than on the idols. So NGO culture came, where people could work towards a particular cause. It was promoted even on television shows where celebrities would give away their prize money to NGO's.
Indian industrialists are at par with their global counter-parts when it comes to do-good.
So calling Indian philanthropist an oxymoron would be exaggerating.
Wealthy politicians are however measly in India and the rest of the world alike. :p