MAC: Mines and Communities

London Calling pours scorn on Anil Agarwal's "Pauline Conversion"

Published by MAC on 2014-09-28
Source: Nostromo Research (2014-09-28)

Anil Agarwal, progenitor, top dog, and main profiteer of Vedanta Resources plc has announced he will "give back what we earn for the greater good of the society".

How he "earned" that wealth has been exposed on this website since before the company listed on the London Stock Exchange in December 2003, and at every turn since.

It's a catalogue of deception, violation of numerous laws, betrayal of thousands of Indigenous Peoples and workers, and theft of resources, standing unrivalled in the recent history of India.

So, is Mr Agarwal (and his family) now going to right his company's past wrongs, and reverse any of the unacceptable decisions made during the past ten years?

You'd better not believe it.

The so-called "commuity programmes" to which he says he'll devote some of this ill-gotten 2.4 billion dollar bonanza, have been in existence for much of Vedanta's history.

In the first place, they were little more than sops to people Vedanta robbed of their land; and they've hardly gone beyond that since.

There's more to Agarwal's pretended munificence

He's also proposing to build an Indian university "that can bring in best in class education in liberal arts and humanities".

That's exactly what he tried to do as far back as 2006, targeting a site in Orissa for the foundation of a seat of learning he compared with Stanford University in the USA.

His plan was firmly sat upon by the Orissa High Court in 2010. It declared the acquisition of land for the eponymous institution to be illegal, after prolonged protests by local people and a petition from a local member of parliament. See: Orissa HC rules Vedanta University land acquisition illegal and void.

We don't know if Mr Agarwal is now seeking a path to redemption-through-money (he's a strictly teetotal vegetarian Hindu).

But, if he reckons he's emulating Paul the Apostle on the road to Damascus, he has another think coming.

Saint Paul had been a merciless persecutor of Christians before turning towards Jesus of Nazareth. He repudiated his earlier behaviour.

Anil Argarwal has no intention whatsover of performing a Pauline conversion.

[London Calling is published by Nostromo Research, which is solely responsible for any opinions expressed in this column. Reproduction is welcome under a Creative Commons Licence]

Vedanta's Anil Agarwal pledges 75% of his $3.3bn wealth to charity

Prasun Sonwalkar

Hindustan Times London

26 September 2014

With a net worth of $3.3 billion, prominent industrialist Anil Agarwal has pledged 75% of his and his family's wealth to charity, with a new liberal arts and humanities-focussed university in India among his priorities. Vedanta's Anil Agarwal has said he and his family have agreed to give 75% of their wealth to charity.

Agarwal, chairman of Vedanta Resources, made the announcement on Thursday evening at a event at the London Stock Exchange to mark a decade of his company's premium listing. It was the first Indian company in 2003 to gain such a listing, which qualified it to enter the FTSE 250.

Agarwal told HT: "It is important to give back what we earn for the greater good of the society, community programmes that work towards eradication of poverty, child welfare & women empowerment will be our focus for communities at large in our country.

He added: "I am keen to invest and create a world class, not for profit university in India that can bring in best in class education in liberal arts and humanities. My family supports my decision that 75% of our wealth which we gain as economic benefit, should be returned to society."

Company sources said the plans for charity were work in progress, and more details would be announced in the near future. Agarwal joins several leaders of Indian industry who have pledged considerable sums of money for charitable activities.

In 2013, Azim Premji, chairman of Bangalore-based software exporter Wipro Ltd, became the first Indian to join the Giving Pledge programme, which seeks to encourage the world's wealthiest people to give away half their wealth to charity.

The programme was founded by Microsoft founder and the world's richest man Bill Gates, who is worth $76 billion, and Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffett, the world's 3rd-richest person with personal wealth of $67.3 billion, according to Forbes. Agarwal said Gates and his wife, Melinda, discussed their philanthropic causes with him in Seattle last summer. "After that, I had a meeting with my family and we decided to donate 75% of our wealth," he said.

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