Indian B-Schools Set for New Culture of Giving

Courier firm staffed by deaf people among initiatives aimed at boosting charity culture 

India’s leading business schools are getting creative with auctions, specialized bank accounts and positive discrimination to boost charitable giving and social entrepreneurship in the country.

 
The Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, is urging its alumni to be more generous with their cash, claiming that charity culture in India is lagging behind that in other countries.
 
“People are reluctant,” says Arvind Sahay, chairman of alumni relations at the school. The institute has recently opened a separate bank account for donations to charity, and is counting on the generosity of famous and wealthy graduates. Ahmedabad's alumni include such bigwigs as KV Kamath, chairman of India's biggest private bank ICICI, and Anshu Jain, head of global markets at Deutsche Bank.
 
While IIM Ahmedabad is trying to raise millions of Rupees, there are plenty of low-key examples of how to help erase poverty in the country. Students at the Faculty of Management Studies, Delhi University, have collected Rs. 90.000 (US $1,940) to help underprivileged children in India.
 
In an attempt to grow a sense of responsibility in future business leaders, the faculty organised an auction where students could offer and bid for prizes. Items on sale ranged from special accounting lectures to romantic holiday trips and Keralan body massages, to home-made breakfast. The hottest prize, weight training for a whole month, was taken for Rs.20.000 during the July event.
 
A similar auction is planned by the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad for late September. As part of the nationwide “Joy of Giving Week”, MBAs will have the chance to place their bids for a day shadowing a star CEO at work. The money offered by the students will go to an Indian charity of their own choice.
 
There are also examples of what individuals can do for a more just society. An example is the work of Dhruv Lakra. The young entrepreneur, who was born in the troubled state ofKashmir and gained his MBA at Said Business School in Oxford in 2008, has founded a company offering courier and tracking services in Mumbai, staffed exclusively by deaf employees.
 
In addition to providing jobs for disadvantaged people and fighting prejudice, Lakra's “Mirakle Couriers” also offers job training and advice on managing personal finances to his employees. The enterprise is not a charity, however, but a profitable business with a social impact. India “needs [more] management students in the social sphere,” says Lakra, a former investment banker at Merrill Lynch, on his website.

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