Tech magnate and Wipro Ltd's founder-chairman Azim Premji on Tuesday said Mahatma Gandhi's idea that the wealthy must be trustees of their wealth for the good of the people resonated with him much before he became rich.
The billionaire businessman said his thinking and actions on what he should do with the privilege of his wealth were influenced by his mother and Mahatma Gandhi, whose 150th birth anniversary is being celebrated this year.
Premji, who transformed Wipro from a company making vegetable oil to a diversified conglomerate, was addressing the graduating students of the Gujarat Vidyapith, founded by Mahatma Gandhi here in 1920.
The 74-year-old business tycoon, one of the richest Indians who has donated a large part of his wealth for philanthropic causes, said the Mahatma's life was "the greatest of inspirations".
"It was Mahatma Gandhi who, after my mother, most strongly influenced my thinking and actions on what I should do with the privilege of my wealth," Premji said at the 66th convocation ceremony of the university.
"The Mahatma's idea that the wealthy must be trustees of their wealth for the good of the people and the community, has resonated with me from much before I became wealthy," he said.
Premji said the idea of "trusteeship," unlike many other economic ideologies, does not put the rich in the dock just for possessing wealth.
"And so, it does not make the wealthy and the privileged defensive. It does not set up a relationship of 'us versus them', rather it sets up a relationship of all of us together," he added.
The tech titan said the moral rationale behind Gandhiji's idea is that in "a world with enormous inequity and injustice" and "staggeringly high levels of misery, pain and indignity," wealth and resources must be used to improve the situation.
He said the idea of trusteeship asks the wealthy to grow of their own accord to become trustees, and puts faith in human nature, "that if you trust people, eventually people will do the right thing."
Emphasising on the relevance of Gandhian values in today's times, Premji said, "My own belief is that in long term, in the reality of the world we live in, this approach will be more effective in contributing to a better world."
He said Gandhian values of integrity, importance of means over ends, hard work and dedication, fairness, equity, justice, empathy and humaneness, "will make us better people and the world better.