New Delhi: What’s with the sudden acceleration in your philanthropy spending?

First reason: Inflation! We got our land at the right time but when we go for additional land for our schools or the museum, there will be extra cost. (And) for expanding the number of schools—some five-six schools in Delhi (NCR) in five years time. The university has a budget of some 300 crore a year. The SSN Institute will be expanded in areas such as liberal arts, social sciences, natural sciences, communications. Once it becomes a university, SSN can have a capacity of 10,000 students, from 4,300 now.

In the last 15 years or so, several founders of top IT firms have ventured into education.

What you are saying is correct. I suppose this has to do with the fact that this is a knowledge industry. So those who created this industry are returning to give back. It’s a good step and I hope all are doing well.

I am quite happy with it. As per the new law, spending 2% of the profit on CSR activities is mandatory. It’s a very measurable form on how you can deploy (a portion of your profit). It’s good for the country.

There is some speculation that you are merging HCL Infosystems with HCL Technologies? Is this true?

It’s untrue. We have told our shareholders (that it’s untrue). You want to hear it from the promoter who owns both (the companies), and you heard it today.

How do you measure the outcome of what you spend via the foundation? Where do you see the foundation five years from now?

In philanthropy, you have to take the attitude of a mother... You have to be patient, and we have been very patient for a long time. After five years, we would like to see higher education going more towards research and VidyaGyan schools tracking its students through undergraduate and post-graduate system (VidyaGyan schools are the foundation’s schools for the underprivileged). We would like to complete the (art) museum work and try to make it global. Shiv Nadar schools will be (coming up) in the sixth or seventh year. We have a lot of growing up to do.

Do you think Indian entrepreneurs are doing enough in the area of philanthropy?

Honestly, I don't know. In Delhi, my friend Sunil Mittal is doing a fair amount. The Bharat Ram family was into philanthropy a way earlier. They build institutes such as Shri Ram College of Commerce, Lady Shri Ram College and Shri Ram Schools. They are very inspiring.

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