Technology tycoon spreads wealth with £1.3bn for Indian rural programmes

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The Independent Online

An Indian technology magnate has said he will donate almost £1.3bn to fund rural education and development programmes in one of the largest charitable donations in the country's history.

Azim Premji, the chairman of Wipro, India's third-largest software services exporter, said he would transfer 213 million shares to a foundation. He will control the trust and will continue to hold the voting rights of the transferred shares.

"We believe that good education is crucial to building a just, equitable, humane and sustainable society," he said. "We want to contribute significantly towards improvement of education in India, and through that towards building a better society."

While hundreds of millions at the bottom of India's social ladder remain desperately poor, its surging economy has brought great rewards to some, creating a new class of super-wealthy entrepreneurs. The country has almost 70 billionaires. Often such entrepreneurs have been criticised for not giving generously to charitable causes. Mr Premji, who in 2000 was named by Asiaweek as one of the 20 most powerful men in the world, is currently listed by Forbes as the 28th richest person in the world, with an estimated net worth of £11bn.