Wipro Chairman Azim Premji is among the honorees of this year’s Carnegie Medal, considered the most prestigious prize in Philanthropy, for his efforts to reform India’s public school system. Premji, 70, who founded the Azim Premji Foundation, is among the nine philanthropists named recipients of the 2017 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy in “recognition of their outstanding and innovative leadership in philanthropy.” Carnegie Corporation said after transforming Wipro into a leading international corporation, Premji turned his attention toward the inequities in Indian society through efforts to improve the country’s public school system. “This extraordinary undertaking is driven by the Azim Premji Foundation’s direct field work, currently serving seven states and over 300,000 schools and with plans to expand,” it said in a statement yesterday.
The foundation went on to establish the Azim Premji University in 2011, with a focus on school education and related fields of human development. Forty-six per cent of the university’s student body comes from villages and small towns, with a majority committing to work in the social sector after graduation. “The foundation’s university and field institutions work synergistically toward the goal of creating a more equitable and just India,” it said.
The 2017 honorees of the Carnegie Medal, include Mei Hing Chak, founder of the Heung Kong Charitable Foundation in China, Julian Robertson of the Robertson Foundation focuses on high-impact grants in education, the environment, and medical research and American entrepreneur Jeff Skoll who founded the Skoll Foundation. “The recipients of the 2017 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy were selected for their distinguished and longstanding contributions to the public good,” said Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation of New York. The medal reflects Andrew Carnegie’s enduring legacy of philanthropy and is rooted in two core principles. First: with wealth comes responsibility. Second: individuals, whether guided by religious, civic, humanistic, or democratic aspirations, have the transformative power to use wealth for the betterment of humankind.
The Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy was established in 2001 and is awarded every two years to individuals for their exemplary philanthropic work. The 22 Carnegie institutions in the US and Europe nominate the medalists, and a selection committee representing seven of those institutions makes the final selection. The honorees are recognised as catalysts for good whose philanthropy has had a significant and lasting impact on a particular field, nation, or community of people. The Carnegie institutions will award the medals during a formal ceremony here in October.