Biocon chief Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw among Asia-Pacific’s biggest givers

May 30, 2013

Biocon chief Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and Bollywood mogul Ronnie Screwvala are among the most generous people in the Asia Pacific, according to a Forbes Asia list of the region’s philanthropic heroes.

The annual list, compiled by the magazine for a seventh year, features 48 of the region’s most prominent altruists and will appear in its June 10 issue.

Four each were chosen from 12 markets in the region – Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.

“We feature biotech entrepreneur Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, who’s working to improve cancer care in India,” Forbes Asia’s John Koppisch said in a statement on its website.

Mazumdar-Shaw, chairman of Biocon, was honoured for her work in trying to provide good-quality cancer treatment and affordable care as well as pledging to give away three-fourths of her wealth, estimated at $625 million by Forbes last year.

“We pick only true philanthropists – people who are giving their own money, not their company’s (unless they own most of the company), because donating shareholder funds isn’t charity,” Koppisch said.

The causes supported by the 48 heroes” across the Asia Pacific ranged from funding new departments at universities and improving the lives of the rural poor to paying for holiday homecomings for low-income workers.

Among the Indians on the list is Ronnie Screwvala, CEO of the UTV Group, who plans to spend $180 million over five years to make a million villagers in Maharashtra self-sufficient. Half of this money will come from him, the magazine said.

Vineet Nayar, vice-chairman of HCL Technologies, was also praised for his philanthropic efforts. Forbes Asia said proceeds from the sale of his stake in the outsourcing company went mostly to a charity that works with local governments to improve schools, fund social ventures and expand water supply.

Real estate baron PNC Menon of Sobha Developers was honoured for his plans to give away half his estimated $425 million fortune. The magazine said a trust run by Menon’s family manages homes for the elderly and young widows, a free school and a medical centre.

Forbes Asia said four of their previous honorees, including Wipro’s billionaire founder Azim Premji, had this year signed the Giving Pledge, an effort by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and billionaire investor Warren Buffett to get the world’s richest to give at least half of their fortunes to charity.

For the full list, click here

(Follow Tony on Twitter @tonytharakan)

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