Anil Agarwal to India Today Editor Prabhu Chawla: I will give 75 percent of my wealth to charity.

Following is an excerpt from an interview in yahoo News.

What is your mission?

I will give 75 per cent of my wealth to charity. I enjoy big businesses. Our companies own aircraft because they need it. But I am happy living in a three-bedroom flat. We have brought $20 billion into India which is unheard of. Why is nobody speaking of that?

I think regardless of what happens to his other business in Odisha, if we let him build Vedanta University, he will build it.

4 comments September 23rd, 2010

Congress soft-pedals on Vedanta University: India Today; But hurdles remain

(Thanks to Rahul Barik for the pointer.)

Following is from an India Today story published in its September 20th edition.

The Congress is now soft-pedalling on the Rs 5,000-crore Vedanta University project in Puri. BJD leaders feel Ramesh is under pressure from various quarters to clear the project.

Action taken against what promises to be Orissa’s education city may not fit with the Congress’ neo-progressive image. It might also alarm the powerful education lobby, which has many political patrons. Meant to accommodate one lakh students, the university offers 95 academic disciplines. The Governments of both Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are now wooing Agarwal to shift to their states – an option he is considering if the project is shut down alleging SEZ violations. "Naveen Patnaik is sold on the university," says Mohapatra wistfully. "He hopes it will become the Oxford of Orissa."

While the above is a bit of good news, the hurdles still remain. Ramesh has not yet given the clearance. Neither the honorable Governor has signed the Vedanta University bill.  Moreover, the  Congress leadership in Odisha seems to not have any self respect. They are mere followers of diktat from Delhi are only interested in whether they can get a nice position by being subservient to Delhi. In that process whether Odisha loses in Malkangiri due to Polavaram dam or Vedanta University goes away from Odisha to Andhra, they don’t seem to care.

Also, MP Pyari Mohaptra is saying that "Naveen Patnaik is sold on the university." What about Pyari Mohapatra himself?

1 comment September 21st, 2010

Vedanta University links categorized to various topics

To make it easier to find various information regarding Vedanta University I have categorized various articles/reports on them. Hope this will be useful in seeing the real value of Vedanta University and convincing people of Odisha that we must thwart the BJP and Congress efforts to take Vedanta University to Karnataka and Andhra respectively.

  1. Must see youtube video on the story of Vedanta University.

  1. Vedanta University Home Page
  2. Initial blog to watch the progress of Vedanta University
  3. Petitions to thwart attempts to take Vedanta University away from Odisha
    1. Petition to the Honorable Governor of Orissa to give assent to the Vedanta University bill passed by Orissa assembly in July 2009 (more than a year back)
    2. Petition to the CM to seek the PM’s help regarding Vedanta University
    3. Petition to Delhi to stop putting hurdles on the Vedanta University project and to facilitate its establishment
  4. Categorizing the articles on Vedanta University in this blog
    1. Accolades for its campus master plan
    2. Ads
    3. Anil Agarwal
    4. Appeal to Anil Agarwal
    5. Architects and Construction Contracts
    6. Beyond the Puri main campus
    7. BJP attempt to steal it to Karnataka
      1. Orissa BJP opposes Karnataka BJP lures
    8. Congress attempt to steal it to Andhra
      1. Andhra Science City plan: They have had plans like the Vedanta University township for a long time. So they are doing their best to take Vedanta University from Odisha.
      2. Congress ruled Andhra’s overture
      3. Environment minister Jairam Ramesh, Congress MP from Andhra, creates hurdles
      4. Orissa Congress opposes Andhra Congress lures
    9. CSR in Puri
    10. Honorable Odisha governor (a former member of Congress) has not signed the Vedanta University bill which was passed in July 2009
    11. International media coverage
    12. Land Acquisition and Land Use (Why so much land?)
    13. Medical College progress
    14. Pictures, master plan layouts, Videos
    15. Provisions for Orissa students
    16. Rally, petitions and articles in its support
    17. Rebuttals to opposition arguments and unsubstantiated rumours
    18. Slowing brain drain
    19. Vedanta University Bill
    20. What does $1 Billion buy? What is once in a century opportunity?

3 comments September 13th, 2010

Forbes writes about Vedanta University in its recent issue

(Update 15th March 2009: Rediff reproduces the main Forbes article here and there are a lot of comments to that article.)

The article is at http://www.forbes.com/global/2009/0316/044_campus_politics.html. There is also a sidebar article at http://www.forbes.com/global/2009/0316/044_higher_education.html . The same issue also lists Anil Agarwal among the top 48 philanthropists and says the following:

Anil Agarwal

Country: India
Age: 55
Chairman of mining outfit Vedanta Resources.

Pledged $1 billion to build a new university in the eastern state of Orissa. Apart from arts and sciences, medicine and engineering, it plans research centers for bio- and nanotechnology, crop genetics and alternative energy. The timetable calls for the first students to arrive on campus in 2011.

Following are excerpts from the main article:

Indian mining magnate Anil Agarwal is having a tough time giving away a billion dollars. He’s pledged $1 billion to start a university along the shores of the Bay of Bengal in eastern India’s Orissa state. The grand plan for a 6,000-acre campus looks to Stanford University in California for inspiration. Leading academics would be poached from every corner of the globe. Research centers in bio- and nanotechnology, crop genetics and alternative energy would produce important work. His ultimate dream: When every building is completed and every classroom filled, 100,000 students will be enrolled, making it one of the largest universities in the world on a single campus. A more realistic goal is 10,000 students in the first eight years and double that in the next four. Ground-breaking is expected this month.

No one doubts that India needs more universities. And this would be the country’s most comprehensive, with medical, engineering and business schools all on one campus. But Agarwal’s plan is under attack on all sides. Critics say there is too much secrecy surrounding the land purchases, and they don’t understand why he needs so much land. They point to 18 villages that are in the way–7 will be displaced completely–and water supplies that will be depleted. In November a mob armed with sticks broke up a prayer service to start construction on a highway to the campus, attacked the attendees and damaged some of the construction equipment. The protests have set back the project by two and a half years. What’s more, government approvals have either already expired or been held up.

At the same time Agarwal’s company, Vedanta Resources, is under fire for its mining operation 250 miles away on the other side of Orissa. Its attempt to mine bauxite will destroy the ecology there and force out a tribal community, environmentalists claim. In January tribal members formed a 10-mile human chain in protest. Given all this, even the four academics planning the university are wary of becoming too deeply involved in the project until a clear line is drawn between the university and the company. Agarwal is in complete agreement, but the legislation to formalize that is being held up.

Agarwal, 55, built his fortune through London-listed Vedanta, which operates in India, Australia and Zambia, and mines copper, aluminum, zinc and iron ore. He owns 55% of the company and with the crash in commodity prices, he has seen his net worth plunge from $7.4 billion in November 2007 to $2.4 billion last November. He hasn’t wavered in his philanthropic commitment, though. He still says he will donate 75% of his wealth to the Anil Agarwal Foundation, and the money for the university will come from this. He’s already transferred $250 million to the foundation for the project, but won’t say how much he’s spent on the land and the other costs so far.

Agarwal’s pet cause has always been education, though he didn’t make it to college himself. He credits his father, Dwarka Prasad Agarwal, with the idea of building a university. "My father [who didn’t go to college either] reads a lot," he says. "He told me that great higher education was fundamental to where the U.S. is today. It had the vision, and it created a mass [higher] education system. Because of that it’s produced the best politicians, huge liberal arts programs, best medical research. I always felt that India should have that."

… For the brainstorming session on an engineering school, for instance, he pulled in participants from the National Science Foundation, ucla, Stanford, Princeton, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and other places. For the session on a business school, participants came from Oxford, Wharton, the Indian Institute of Management, Insead and Nanyang in Singapore. Most of them were of Indian origin.

Agarwal hired Ayers Saint Gross, a Baltimore, Maryland specialist in campus architecture, to design the university, and he wants to move ahead at full speed. But the Indian bureaucracy and the mass protests, sometimes violent, that appear whenever a big project is proposed–such as recent plans to build a Tata car plant in West Bengal and a Posco steel plant in Orissa–have slowed him down. He wanted 10,000 acres, but he had to scale that down to 6,000 and has been able to purchase only 3,900 so far. The acquisition of so much land is a lightning rod for criticism in the region. Some 18 villages will be affected and at least 450 people must be relocated, says the foundation. Agarwal, on the other hand, cites Stanford, which is spread over 8,180 acres.

Mehta and his academic colleagues are well aware of the controversies surrounding their benefactor. "It’s crucial for the success of the university that there’s a clear separation from the company," he says. "It’s a project in its own right and not a commercial project, and it shouldn’t be used to compensate for other activities of Vedanta. That’s what makes this genuinely philanthropic: if he just hands over this grant and is not expecting any return on this."

Shah agrees. "You’ve got someone who’s genuinely putting down his own resources," he says. "To not support that because I have ideological issues that are unrelated, to me seems to be hypocritical. The history of universities is such. Duke [in the U.S.] was built with tobacco money; this university is as genuine a philanthropic project."

March 5th, 2009

Evening Standard on Anil Agarwal and Vedanta University

Following is an excerpt from it.

Look at Agarwal. According to the list, the founder and chairman of Vedanta Resources owns shares worth £2.93bn. That valuation, says Beresford, was calculated last month. Since then, his stake in Vedanta has risen to £3.6bn. In a few weeks, on paper, he has made more than £500m.

… Agarwal is also committing £500m of his own money to build a new university – not in Britain, but in Orissa, also in India. Called Vedanta University it will cater for 100,000 students – undergraduates and graduates – plus 40,000 faculty and staff members. The intention is it will rival Stanford (it’s modelled on the Californian university) and will go some way towards slowing the brain drain from India to America.

‘What is money for, if not to be made and given back to society?’ says Agarwal.

May 1st, 2008

Anil Agarwal’s net worth as per Forbes (pledged $1 Billion for Vedanta University in 2006)

March 6th, 2008

Economist, UK profiles Anil Agarwal and mentions Vedanta University

Economist, UK has a nice profile of Anil Agarwal and mentions Vedanta University. Following are some excerpts.

… Around half of India’s dozen richest businessmen are self-made men. But none more so than Mr Agarwal, now 53, whose personal fortune is estimated at $5.4 billion. …

He is Indian, and proud to be—hence, he says, his philanthropic scheme to donate $1 billion to found a world-class university in India. Vedanta University will be constructed on a 3,200-hectare site in Orissa and will cater for 100,000 students when it is completed, around 2025. “When you go to the US, you see their large universities, Harvard and Berkeley, and we don’t have them,” says Mr Agarwal. “Yet the biggest thing you can give to people is education.” Sceptics say he has chosen Orissa as the site for the university for political reasons. It is certainly an extraordinarily ambitious scheme. But there is no doubting Mr Agarwal’s ability to overcome obstacles and establish giant enterprises with surprising speed.

July 29th, 2007

Time Magazine on Anil Agarwal and Vedanta University

Time Magazine in its recent issue lists Anil Agarwal at number in its list of 12 Powergivers. The others in the list are Angelina Jolie, Rania al-Abdullah, Yu Panglin, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal al-Saud, Sir John Templeton, Li Ka-shing, Pierre & Pam Omidyar, David Rockefeller, Gordon Moore, George Soros, and Bill & Melinda Gates.

Following is an excerpt of what Time says about Mr. Agarwal and Vedanta University.

Cause: University education in India. The London-based mining magnate has pledged $1 billion to establish a world-class, need-blind university in Orissa, eastern India. To be called Vedanta (the name of his mining group), the school will focus on liberal arts, in contrast to India’s many technically oriented schools.

Impact: Vedanta will help address the region’s dearth of university spots, which keeps qualified students from going to high-quality colleges.

It says Vedant University will focus on liberal arts and not like the technical schools in India. What it means probably is that it will not be unidimensional like the IITs were (they are changing), the IIMs are, etc. It does not mean that it will not have disciplines like science, engineering, management etc. In fact Vedanta University’s website lists all these disciplines and my guess is that in their first phase they will have disciplines like Engineering, Management and Medicine (as they recently promised) which are in demand and which will attract paying students.

(Thanks to Jibanendra babu for tipping of about the Time magazine article.)

May 12th, 2007

Vedanta University: Anil Agarwal’s dream project

Following Vedanta’s purchase of a huge stake in Sesa Goa there have been a few profile articles on its Chairman Mr. Anil Agarwal (230 in Forbes list of 2007).

  1. Rediff: How a small trader became a metal king
  2. Daily News India: A long journey from Bihar’s badlands to London’s Mayfair

The second article has a brief paragraph on Vedanta University. Following is an excerpt.

Struck by the munificence that created Carnegie Mellon, Harvard, and Stanford, Agarwal wants to do something similar in India. So, he is making an endowment of up to $1 billion (Rs4,435 crore) to establish a “world-class, multi-disciplinary university”. His dream project is called Vedanta University and will be set up in the state of Orissa. AT Kearney is the consultant for the project. Agarwal had told DNA Money: “We (the family) have decided to give our wealth back to society,” he said.

Forbes profile of Anil Agarwal says the following about Vedanta University:

Plans to build Vedanta University, India’s answer to Stanford, in eastern India; has pledged $1 billion.”

In this regard one may read how Stanford University was founded and the history of Carnegie Mellon University(CMU). The rag-to-riches story of Andrew Carnegie, the founder of Carnegie Tech (that later merged with Mellon Institute to become CMU), has some similarity with that of Mr. Anil Agarwal’s life story so far.

April 29th, 2007


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