Pakistan Leads South Asia in Charitable Giving
While Premji, the third richest among India's 50-odd billionaires, has announced $2 billion donation to improve public education, billionaire Malik Riaz has pledged 75% of his wealth to help Pakistan's flood victims rebuild.
Prior to Premji's $2 billion pledge, the biggest philanthropist in India was Bill Gates, an American, whose foundation is contributing $1.6 billion to help India's poor.
Beyond these high-profile pledges, the state of philanthropy in South Asia, especially in India, is not particularly healthy. Charity contributions in India make up only 0.6% of GDP, significantly lagging behind 2.2% in the United States, 1.3% in the UK, 1.2% in Canada, and 1% of GDP in Pakistan, according to data reported by Bain & Company, and Pakistan Center for Philanthropy.
Pakistanis contributed Rs.140 billion (US$1.7 billion), nearly 1% of the nation's gross domestic product of $170 billion in 2009, according to PCP. Their donations help organizations like Khana Ghar that feeds the hungry, Edhi Foundation which operates non-profit ambulance service and Human Development Foundation which builds and operates schools and clinics for the poor.
Indians gave $7.5 billion to charities, about 0.6% of India's GDP. The donations supported Indian organization like Akshaya Patra which feeds the hungry, and Premji's Foundation that is helping improve primary education to shift away from rote learning to creative thinking.
One of the measures of the goodness of a nation, particularly its middle class, is its level of civic engagement.
By this measure, advanced western nations lead the pack with the United States in #1 position, followed by Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Holland, Canada, and lo and behold! Sri Lanka.
In South Asia, Pakistan is a distant second to Sri Lanka's 51% participation rate. Pakistan's participation rate of 42% ranks it at 27, the same as Israel.
India lags far behind with the participation rate of only 28% ranking it at 48 among 130 nations, according to a recent Gallup poll on civic engagement that included 130 nations.
While 53% of Sri Lankans gave money to charity and 53% volunteered time, 51% of Pakistanis contributed money and 27% volunteered time. In India, 28% donated money and 18% volunteered time. Comparable figures for the top-ranking United States are 65% and 43%.
Although South Asians are more generous than the Brazilians (0.3% of GDP) and the Chinese (0.1% of GDP), charity continues to lag in South Asia (Pakistan 1%, India 0.6%) in spite of the rising number of high net worth individuals and families. Bain research shows that nearly 40 percent of India's wealth is controlled by the top 5 percent of India's households. And the top 1% of Indians control about 16% of India's wealth.
The growing disparities created by the heavily skewed benefits of economic growth accruing to a few creates the potential for serious social unrest, unless the newly rich begin to share their wealth to address the widespread hunger, poverty and deprivation in South Asia. I think it is time for the rich in India and Pakistan to begin to emulate the fine example of generosity being set by Premji and Malik Riaz.
Here's a video clip of Malik Riaz's interview with CNN:
How Can Overseas Pakistanis Help Flood Victims?
Light a Candle, Don't Curse Darkness
Pakistan Center for Philanthropy
An Overview of Indian Philanthropy
Aaker Patel on Philathropy
Orangi Pilot Project
Three Cups of Tea
Volunteerism in America
Dr. Akhtar Hamid Khan's Vision