Changemakers: 8 Remarkable Indian Women Philanthropists
By: WE Staff
In the vibrant tapestry of India's philanthropic landscape, many remarkable women stand as beacons of hope and catalysts for positive change. Their unwavering dedication to social causes, combined with their remarkable achievements, showcases the transformative power of philanthropy and individual impact on society.
In India's philanthropic landscape, there are remarkable women who stand as beacons of hope and change. These women, in addition to achieving remarkable success in their respective domains, have dedicated their lives to fostering positive change in society.
Their journeys serve as powerful reminders of the transformative potential of philanthropy and the incredible impact that individuals can have on the world around them.
Rohini Nilekani is a woman of unparalleled dedication to social causes. She founded the Arghyam Foundation, an organization that works tirelessly to address water and sanitation issues in India. Her personal endowment fuels the foundation's mission to ensure access to clean water for all. But her philanthropic influence doesn't stop there; she also chairs the Akshara Foundation, an institution singularly focused on improving elementary education in the country.
In addition to these endeavours, Rohini Nilekani co-founded EkStep, a non-profit education platform aimed at revolutionizing learning experiences for India's youth. Her commitment to education and its transformative potential is undeniable. Furthermore, she is the chairperson of Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies, where she continues to harness her wealth and influence to drive change.
Rohini Nilekani's dedication to social causes has been recognized globally. In 2017, she was inducted as a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Sudha Murty is a force of nature in the world of philanthropy. As the chairperson of the Infosys Foundation, she has steered the organization toward supporting a wide spectrum of initiatives. These include education, healthcare, rural development, arts and culture, and disaster relief. The Infosys Foundation, under her leadership, has become a pillar of support for countless individuals and communities across India.
Sudha Murty's impact extends beyond the realm of philanthropy. She is a prolific writer who has authored numerous books in English and Kannada. Her literary contributions often draw from her experiences in the world of social work. She uses her writing to inspire and educate, spreading the message of kindness and compassion.
Her dedication to social causes earned her the Padma Shri, one of India's highest civilian awards, in 2006.
Anu Aga's philanthropic journey is intertwined with her leadership in the corporate world. As the former chairperson of Thermax, a leading energy and environment engineering company, she demonstrated her commitment to sustainable practices. Beyond business, she devoted herself to various social causes, leaving an indelible mark on Indian society.
Her philanthropic portfolio is diverse, spanning vocational training, mental health awareness, gender equity, justice, governance, and animal welfare. Anu Aga's nomination as a member of the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian parliament, from 2006 to 2012, allowed her to directly influence policymaking in the country.
In recognition of her significant contributions, Anu Aga was awarded the Padma Shri for her outstanding social work in 2010.
Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw is a trailblazing entrepreneur and philanthropist who has made an indelible mark on the biotechnology landscape in India. As the executive chairperson and founder of Biocon Limited and Biocon Biologics Limited, she has been instrumental in developing affordable and innovative medicines to combat a range of diseases, including diabetes, cancer, and COVID-19.
Beyond her groundbreaking work in biotechnology, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw has also contributed to academia as the former chairperson of the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore. Her role in nurturing future leaders and innovators underscores her commitment to education and research.
In 2020, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw received global recognition when she was named the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year.
Sangita Jindal's philanthropic journey is marked by her multifaceted contributions to social development and the arts. As the chairperson of the JSW Foundation, she spearheads initiatives that drive positive change within the JSW Group, a conglomerate with a strong commitment to corporate social responsibility.
Sangita Jindal's love for art and culture is evident through her leadership at the Jindal Arts Centre and her role as the President of Art India magazine. She actively promotes contemporary art practices and critical theory, enriching the cultural landscape of India.
Environmental conservation is another arena where Sangita Jindal has been instrumental in the institutionalization of Earth Care Awards and has contributed toward the conservation and restoration of the interiors of the iconic Sir J.J. School of Arts.
Anita Dongre is a renowned Indian fashion designer and entrepreneur known for her commitment to sustainable and ethical fashion practices. As the founder of House of Anita Dongre, an Indian fashion house, she has pioneered the use of organic fabrics, natural dyes, and vegan accessories in the fashion industry.
One of her significant contributions to education is her recent appointment as the Chancellor of BITS School of Management and Pro-Chancellor of BITS-Pilani, an institution founded by her grandfather, G.D. Birla. This role allows her to shape the educational landscape and empower future leaders.
In recognition of her outstanding philanthropic efforts, Anita Dongre received the Women Philanthropist Award from FICCI in 2019.
Renuka Ramnath is a pioneering figure in the world of private equity and impact investment in India. As the founder and CEO of Multiples Asset Management Ltd., she has played a pivotal role in shaping the landscape of investment in the country.
Renuka's vision extends to the corporate world, where she serves as an independent director of the apparel manufacturer Arvind Ltd. Additionally, she chairs the board at Tata Communications and the Indian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association.
Her contributions have earned her global recognition, including the Global Leader of Tomorrow award from the World Economic Forum in 1996.
Shobhana Bhartia is a prominent Indian businesswoman and the chairperson and editorial director of Hindustan Times Group, one of India's largest newspapers and media houses. Her vision and leadership have played a pivotal role in transforming Hindustan Times into a modern and vibrant media brand that covers diverse issues and perspectives.
Shobhana Bhartia's impact on journalism is undeniable, and her dedication to the principles of ethical and responsible journalism is commendable. In recognition of her contributions, she was awarded the Padma Shri for journalism in 2005.
These eight remarkable women philanthropists have left an indelible mark on India's philanthropic landscape. Their contributions span diverse fields, including education, healthcare, biotechnology, art, sustainable fashion, private equity, and journalism. They have not only harnessed their wealth and influence but have also leveraged their passion and commitment to drive meaningful change in society.
As we celebrate these extraordinary women, we are inspired to follow in their footsteps, contribute to the greater good, and work towards creating a brighter and more equitable future for India.