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Friday, August 12, 2011

@billgates and werren buffet gives back and tell other to do da same @smarterhiphop

Bill Gates, Indian business tycoon Azim Premji, Melinda Gates, and Warren Buffett at a March 24 press conference in New Delhi.Photograph from Raveendran/Getty Images.
Lately, it’s been easy to criticize billionaires. Ever since the financial crisis hit, they’ve become targets for anyone wishing to blow off steam about inequality in America, and what some believe are harmful concentrations of power and wealth. But at least two exceptional billionaires shouldn’t be put in the crosshairs: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, leaders of a new philanthropic initiative called the Giving Pledge, are demonstrating their magnanimity by donating a majority of their own fortunes to charity, and encouraging others in their income bracket to follow suit. Officially making “the pledge” requires billionaires to donate a bulk of their assets to charitable organizations, then to announce their commitments in open letters published at givingpledge.org.
It’s an impressive feat to get the wealthy to part with money—especially some of the notoriously acquisitive billionaires named on the Giving Pledge’s list. But by leveraging their combined social influence, Buffett and Gates seem to have successfully raised the bar for what counts as high-level charitable giving. Their achievement recalls the important contributions made by other vastly rich men in previous generations—like Andrew Carnegie, whose famous “Gospel of Wealth” philosophy helped to inspire a tradition of social responsibility among the American upper class.
But if there is a flaw in the pair’s otherwise admirable undertaking, it’s exporting their vision for philanthropy to China and India. Last week, news broke that Buffett and Gates delivered the message of the Giving Pledge at a meeting in New Delhi, where the two men presided over a discussion with Indian billionaires about charitable giving. In a statement made following the event, Gates indicated the discussion was simply intended to be a sharing of ideas, where no direct requests to support the Pledge were made. But the New Delhi summit is seen by many as an extension of the philanthropic mission established in the U.S.; it also followed a similar meeting held with Chinese billionaires in September of last year.
Even with the best intentions at heart and sensitivity to respecting cultural differences, the conference carries a slightly condescending message. It implies somehow that Indian billionaires require the guidance of American billionaires to act responsibly, and in the best interest of their own society. I tend to believe that super-rich Indians—whose fortunes, it’s worth remembering, are already remarkably high and only expected to swell in forthcoming years—have a suitable vision of their own for philanthropy. According to Forbes, the nation currently is home to 55 billionaires—many of whom are internationally renowned entrepreneurs. There isn’t any reason to assume their business savvy and creativity won’t extend to developing effective strategies for donating wealth. Plus, a number of Indian billionaires already rival their American counterparts in the arena of social responsibility. The Tata family, for example, has notably sacrificed personal wealth for generations by placing shares of their industrial conglomerate in charitable trusts to benefit India’s people.
The generous actions of Buffett and Gates seem to offer the best retort for critics of mega-wealth in a time of financial re-centering. Does that mean promoting their program beyond this country’s shores is as appropriate as it seems well intentioned? It’s very difficult to assess, but reports that Indian billionaires received the two men favorably may challenge my personal reaction. Either way, I’ll be following these developments with particular interest.