Thursday, October 12, 2006


Columbia: $ 4 Billion.

University of Virginia: $ 3 Billion.

Yale University: $ 3 Billion.

Stanford University: $ 4.3 Billion

These figures are from this story in Inside HigherEd about the fund-raising plans announced by the universities listed above. The article goes on to examine some of the bad effects of such large fund-raising campaigns. While rich societies can afford to have such a discussion, let me turn your attention to the situation in India.

It's clear that our policies have done a wonderful job of encouraging the wrong sort of private money flowing into the higher ed sector: investments -- sometimes from crooks, politicians and thugs -- seeking high returns. Philanthropic inflows -- for academic programs, scholarships, research fellowships, buildings, hostels, what-have-you -- are far more desirable, but our policies have done a good job of placing obstacles on their way to our institutions which could greatly benefit from them.

I can go on and on, but I'm tired of ranting about why Indian philanthropists are unable to contribute to the development and growth of our institutions of higher education. I did it last year, so go read it if you are interested.


  1. abhinav said...

    I too read the story , and I immediately thought about your earlier post

    There seems to be such a difference in the way these endowments are being treated. The universities have a target, a plan and strategies to get the money. They are not waiting on their doorsteps waiting for alumni to pass by and drop a cheque.

    The Indian universities have no marketing plans, no professional efforts, no large goals. In essence nobody has made the case convincingly to rich donors to give money to the Indian universities.

    As a concrete example, take a look at IITMadras efforts at fundraising.Compare that with caltech's effort

  2. Anonymous said...

    In the US, the endowment givers have considerable right to specify how their endowment gets used (provided their contribution is large enough). Furthermore, there are tax advantages associated with such giving. Even more, I think, the whole thing rests on an ethic of "money making" and private enterprise where being "successful" is indicated by a willingness to give away money. Any of this operational in India?

    We still regard "money making" as unethical and "dirty." Dhirubhai Ambani is still reviled for his dirty tactics. I hold no brief for the late Mr. Ambani but at least part of the blame should be shared by those who framed the rules of business - our bureaucrats and politicians - which more or less meant that you had to do what Mr. Ambani did in order to be successful.

    While you are at it, why not compare the endowment giving in European universities? You will see the contrast between European and American universities. Our situation is closer to the European model of public universities (the UK has just *one* private university) and where too, being successful in "money making" is not regarded particularly highly.