Indian software exec pulls a Bill Gates

Azim Premji, billionaire chairman of Wipro, says he plans to give the bulk of his wealth to charitable causes.

Wipro Chairman Azim Premji (right) chats with Stanford University's Rafiq Dossani at the 2006 Future in Review conference. Tom Krazit/CNET

The storyline sounds familiar: software executive makes billions building his company, realizes that with wealth comes responsibility, and pledges the bulk of his fortune to charity.

But this time it's not Bill Gates. It's Azim Premji, the billionaire chairman of India's Wipro.

Premji, like Gates, has a big focus on education, using his foundation to improve teaching standards and fund schools that are trying new methods, according to a report on Forbes.com. Premji said he is trying to break with tradition in Asia, which holds that wealth is passed from generation to generation.

"Even if I was to give my children a small part of my wealth, it would be more than they can digest in many lifetimes," Premji told Forbes.

During his recent college tour , Bill Gates said he had been talking with many of the wealthy in India and China about the benefits of giving back.

"I'm hopeful," Gates said, as part of his talk at the University of California at Berkeley . "In fact, I've been having meetings with some of the people who have done very well in India and the people who have done very well in China."

Click on the image above to see CNET's complete coverage of Bill Gates' College Tour.

Gates noted that there is a fairly good philanthropic tradition in the U.S., but even here only about 20 percent of the biggest estates' money goes to charity.

"That 20 percent should be more like 50 or 60 percent," Gates said. But it's even less elsewhere.

"In India or China today it's very, very small and yet, because there's no tradition--it could go one direction or another," Gates said. "It's clear the best place to capture a fortune for philanthropy is in the generation it was first earned...If you don't get it right at the beginning, if you get this sort of dynastic thinking under way, then it is very difficult."

 

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