Indian Entrepreneur Pledges $340 Million to Improve Education

Grandhi Mallikarjuna Rao, chairman of the Bangalore-based GMR Group, has pledged $340 million to improve education among the most underserved segments of Indian society, the Times of India reports.

The pledge comes as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett prepare to meet with Indian billionaires in Delhi on Thursday to talk about philanthropy and encourage them to join their Giving Pledge campaign. Rao has pledged the funds through the Varalakshmi Foundation, the corporate social responsibility arm of GMR Group; the foundation focuses on education and vocational training for the underprivileged. "I have always believed that we have a responsibility to give back to the society in which we thrive and we owe our success to," said Rao at a ceremony announcing the pledge.

According to a 2010 Bain & Company survey, Indians collectively contributed just 0.6 percent of the country's GDP to charitable causes, compared to 1.3 percent in the United Kingdom and 2.2 percent in the United States. Recently, however, Indian billionaires have begun to increase their giving for social and charitable causes.

"GMR Boss Pledges $340m for Education." The Times of India 03/23/2011.