Has anyone been following the charitable donation battle between Anand Mahindra and Ratan Tata? In a nutshell, Mahindra donated USD $10 million to Harvard a couple of weeks ago to secure the re-naming of a humanities center to The Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard. To up the ante, Ratan Tata (Mahindra’s biggest Indian automotive rival and owner of Jaguar and Land Rover) recently donated USD $50 million to the Harvard Business School for a new building to be named Tata Hall.
It’s understandable that both of these incredibly successful Indian businessmen want to give back to their Alma Mater (and satisfy their equally incredible egos), but it also stirs controversy in India. Just when you think the divide between the haves and the have-nots in America is getting bigger every day; we’ve got nothing on India. So, what’s to be gained by donating millions of dollars to a foreign university (that isn’t exactly cash-strapped to begin with) while millions of your fellow countrymen live in utter poverty?
Is it all about image? Do these charitable acts give credence to those who have suspected all along that Mahindra (and possibly Tata) only wants to sell vehicles in the US to gloat about the achievement and fluff up their status as an Indian international success story just to sell more cars at home?
It’s my sincere hope that both of these men make far more charitable contributions to those in need than these very public donations to a wealthy American institution portray. I personally believe there is a bigger statement to be made by taking a more stealthy approach to giving, but hey, the Salvation Army probably isn’t going to let me re-name one of their second-hand stores no matter how many lightly used slacks I donate. Personal satisfaction, warm feelings, and good karma be damned, they should at least paint my name on the side of a Red Kettle come Christmas time. Anonymous gifting is so overrated.
So are these multi-million dollar Harvard donations simply a good deed, or just good business?
Sources: Stuff Rich People Love, The Wall Street Journal, All Headline News