Gautam Adani
Gautam Adani

Adani, Nadar and Soota named in Forbes Asia's 16th Annual Heroes Of Philanthropy List

Singapore, December 6, 2022

Indian billionaires Gautam Adani, Shiv Nadar and Ashok Soota, along with Malaysian-Indian businessman Brahmal Vasudevan and his lawyer-wife Shanthi Kandiah, were named in Forbes Asia's 16th Annual Heroes of Philanthropy List on Tuesday.

The list highlights leading altruists in the Asia-Pacific region who demonstrated a strong personal commitment to philanthropic causes such as education and the environment, among others.

"The unranked list highlights philanthropists who are donating from their own fortunes and giving personal time and attention to their select causes. The list does not include corporate philanthropy except for privately held companies where the individual is a majority owner," a press release from Forbe said.

The list is kept to a select group of 15, with nine new entrants on this year’s list. Previous honorees are considered if they have made recent significant contributions that justify a relisting.

Adani, Chairman of the Adani Group and India’s richest person, had pledged 600 billion rupees (US$7.7 billion) when he turned 60 in June, making him one of India’s most generous philanthropists, the magazine said.

The money will address healthcare, education and skill development, and will be channeled through the family’s Adani Foundation. The Adani Foundation, founded in 1996, has been spearheaded since the start by his wife Priti Adani, who is the chairperson. Each year, the foundation helps nearly 3.7 million people across India, it noted.

The magazine said self-made billionaire and philanthropist Shiv Nadar counted among the top donors in India, having channeled close to $1 billion of his wealth over a few decades to various social causes through the eponymous Shiv Nadar Foundation.

This year he donated 11.6 billion rupees ($142 million) to the foundation, which he established in 1994 with the goal of creating an equitable, merit-based society by empowering individuals through education. The foundation says it practises “creative philanthropy,” an approach that focuses on long-term impact for generations to come.

Nadar, who cofounded HCL Technologies (he stepped down from executive roles at the IT services company in 2021), has helped set up educational institutions such as schools and universities via the foundation, which also promotes art and culture. The foundation’s trustees include his wife Kiran Nadar, daughter Roshni Nadar Malhotra and son-in-law Shikhar Malhotra, the report said.

Tech tycoon Soota, Executive chairman, Happiest Minds Technologies, 80, has pledged 6 billion rupees ($75 million) to a medical research trust he founded in April 2021 to study aging and neurological illnesses. He started SKAN—which stands for scientific knowledge for ageing and neurological ailments—with a 2 billion rupee outlay, which he has since tripled, and bought land near Bangalore for its headquarters.

“There are only two kinds of people doing [medical] research in India,” Soota says by phone. “One is the people doing drug discovery and the other is the people doing research in national and state-level institutions, which are starved for funds.” He plans to release the money over the next ten years.

Soota, who gets his wealth from a majority stake in Bangalore-based software services firm Happiest Minds Technologies, says SKAN is already working with the Centre for Brain Research at the Indian Institute of Science for research relating to Parkinson’s disease, and with the National Institute for Mental Health and Neuro Sciences for research on strokes. In June 2021, SKAN gave a 200 million rupee grant to Soota’s alma mater, Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, for funding joint research projects, creating a lab and sponsoring a professorship and three faculty fellowships.

Brahmal Vasudevan, founder and CEO of Kuala Lumpur-based private equity firm Creador, and his lawyer wife, Shanthi Kandiah, support local communities in Malaysia and India through the Creador Foundation, a non-profit they co-founded in 2018. In May this year, they pledged to donate 50 million ringgit ($11 million) to help build a teaching hospital at the Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) Kampar campus in Perak state.

The couple stepped in to help bridge a funding gap on learning that UTAR had only raised half the amount needed to build the non-profit facility which, once completed in 2023, will also provide affordable healthcare. “We are delighted that this has spurred others to join this cause and it appears the project is now fully funded,” Vasudevan told the magazine by email.

Also in May, the couple donated £25 million ($30 million) to Imperial College London—one of the largest gifts in its history—to create the eponymous Brahmal Vasudevan Institute for Sustainable Aviation to pioneer technologies to help the aviation industry transition to zero pollution.

“We felt that the creation of this institute could hopefully make a meaningful impact on studying ways of reducing, if not achieving, zero pollution one day,” said Vasudevan, who earned a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the college in 1990, the magazine added.


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