We Have A Burning Desire To Make A Difference

Updated: Jun 30 2002, 05:30am hrs
It's not about profits, but people. Its not about charity, but responsibility. Its not about hi-tech solutions, but elementary education. The Azim Premji Foundation is working today at the grassroot level in the area of education for a better tomorrow. Chief executive officer Dileep Ranjekar gives an insight into the foundation and its working in an interview with Rajiv Tikoo. Excerpts:

Few people name their foundations or trusts after themselves. What prompted Azim Premji do do that
The financial resources for the foundation are personally contributed by Mr Premji and not from Wipro. There are areas where leveraging on Wipros strengths may happen, though.

What are the focus areas of the foundation
The foundation has a vision. The Azim Premji Foundation aims at building the future of India through transforming the lives of millions of children by catalysing universalisation of elementary education.

Wipro is a hi-tech company. But the foundation works in the sphere of primary education only. Why is it so
Basic elementary education, as you would appreciate, has extremely high impact on further learning in life. It impacts almost every aspect of human life. Some of the areas of specific impact are as under:

* Equality of all citizens without regard to origin, gender or religion
* Nutritional, healthcare and sanitation practices. More specifically, reproductive health, prevention of HIV/ AIDS and endemic diseases
* Enabling people and particularly women to exercise choices in respect of small family norms
* Awareness to resist social evils, crime, drug addiction and child labour
* Productivity, employment and economic growths

Above all education enables people to make informed choices.

How does the funding come in
As stated earlier the financial resources for the foundation are personally contributed by Mr Premji. The finances are in the form of shares allotted by him to the Foundation.

What are the assets of the foundation
Since we do not have a background in education, we bring to the table passion, commitment, sincerity and integrity; result orientation; process orientation; credibility and brand equity; experience in IT, training and development and managing large initiatives; understanding of human resources development; and a burning desire of the team to make a difference.

Currently, we have a team of about 12 people working with the foundation directly. However, the foundation enters in active partnerships with a number of organisations including the governmental ones and, therefore, leverages on the volunteers and other team members of such organisations.

There is an economic slump across the board in the industry. Has it affected your foundation in any way
The economic slump can affect us at best if the share prices go down significantly.

Wipro is active in other countries, too. Does the foundation also work in other countries or intend to do so
Currently, Azim Premji Foundation works only in elementary education in India. However, as we develop successful and effective models of universalisation of elementary education, we may make these models available for other countries as well.

How much is Mr Premji involved in the work of the foundation
Mr Premji is very much involved in setting directions, monthly review of progress and making field visits to have a ground level feel of activities.