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Philanthropy in India, an age-old tradition India has the potential to become a global philanthropic powerhouse. A report has found that most people in India—84% of the 836 million adults—give at least once a year.Photo: Photo: Mint Athaazha Pazhnikaarundo (Is there anyone left without supper)?” This was the question that every feudal landlord in Kerala used to ask before closing their main gates every night. For India, philanthropy is not a new phenomenon. The culture of philanthropy is as old as India itself, which has a history spanning thousands of years. One who enjoys abundance without sharing with others is indeed a thief, says the Bhagavad Gita, a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is part of the Mahabharata. There are many who continue to imbibe these values even though the India of today may bear little resemblance to the civilization described in these ancient texts. At 23, Mistry lost her husband and had to fend for herself and her four children. Her husband died because they could not afford proper medical treatment. The memory stayed with Mistry, and she decided to try and help people who may face similar difficulties. The duo founded Avanti Fellows, which mentors high school students and works with them to prepare them for higher education. They draw on their network, comprising IIT engineers and students from other private engineering colleges, ACSO-PROC-IPG-03 , who in turn work with the underprivileged children. “Charity and philanthropy has been in the ethos of the Indian traditions. Individuals and religious institutions have been contributing to the welfare of the poor since antiquity. Alms giving, offering food, and giving zakat, the Muslim tradition of giving, are some of the forms of charity motivated by Indian religious beliefs,” says Vidya Shah, chief executive officer at EdelGive Foundation, a unit of Edelweiss Group. She notes that there are similarities and differences in the ways of giving in India and the rest of the world. “Indian traditions in the middle ages witnessed movements to donate land, labour and succour to the needy, which was not reflected so strongly in the ways of giving by the world,” she says. Shah adds that it’s not just individuals, but also the business community which has been contributing to social and economic development from times dating back to the 19th century.