The Interaction between Public Policy and Philanthropy: the case of the USA versus India |

The Interaction between Public Policy and Philanthropy: the case of the USA versus India

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It is appropriate, during the 150th anniversary year of Swami Vivekananda’s birth, to review the Swami’s efforts which contributed to the transformation of Indian alms-giving into philanthropy.

Interestingly, that move from charity to philanthropy in India took place at almost exactly the same time as in the USA, where public policy has been continuously shaped by its philanthropists. In the last two or three decades, however, that interaction seems to have turned sour. Instead of public benefit, what is being created is a society increasingly divided between the rich and the poor, as well as between ideological extremes, and in danger of freezing into capitalism of a crony sort, which we would otherwise expect to see only in much less developed countries.

In India, too, philanthropy had a splendid start – creating the national identity, and financing the very movement that led to the creation of India. Most of the country’s achievements, from land reform to its membership of the nuclear and space clubs, as well as its striking achievements in information technology, can be traced back directly to the efforts of its philanthropists. After a hiatus of half a century, in which nothing substantial was achieved, we now see a new flowering of Indian philanthropy, this time not under the influence of Christianity but under the influence of modernity. Interestingly, that influence too came principally from the USA.

Professor Guptara therefore concludes by asking whether the newly promising forms of Indian philanthropy are simply following in the wake of developments in the USA and will sooner or later also tend to strengthen the trend towards crony capitalism in India, or whether a more positive outcome might be in view.

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Prof. Prabhu Guptara, Distinguished Professor of Global Business Management and Public Policy, William Carey University, India

Thursday, 21 February 2013
5:15 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Seminar Room 3-1,
Level 3, Manasseh Meyer,
Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy,
469C Bukit Timah Road,
Singapore 259772

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