Quick Edit | The art of giving

Quick Edit | The art of giving

What it takes for emerging societies to turn philanthropic is tricky. Warren Buffett and Bill Gates may soon find out just how much.

The charitable twosome, who led a pledge for US billionaires to donate half their wealth, are making their way to China. They will host a 29 September dinner for Chinese tycoons, possibly to do something similar. But the invitees are petrified. They’ve either cancelled or asked upfront whether they’ll have to pledge donations at the dinner itself. New money can be insecure about the gains it has made.

Or perhaps it matters how that new aristocracy makes those gains. In China, tycoons either make money kowtowing to Beijing or by skirting close to the edge of the law. Buffett and Gates, who are interested not in passive but active giving, may not find China the right fit.

We suggest the twosome try India. In this land, entrepreneurs more often earn their chops without currying favour with the state or breaking the law.