Five prizes of Rs.1 crore each will be given away every year

Saying that he was ashamed to belong to a business community that did not do enough to help the rest of society, Sitaram Jindal said on Tuesday that companies should earmark at least 25 per cent of their profit for CSR programmes and pledged to spend more than a million dollars of his own every year to encourage those working for the welfare of the underprivileged in India.

Announcing the institution of five annual prizes of Rs.1 crore each on behalf of the Sitaram Jindal Foundation, the aluminium magnate said these would be given away to people working in the categories of rural development and poverty alleviation, health including drugless therapy, education with an emphasis on moral fortification, science, technology and environment, and peace, social harmony and development.

A jury comprising reputed names such as Justice J.S Verma, former Chief Justice of India; K. Kasturirangan, former ISRO Chairman; Kiran Karnik, former chairperson of the NASSCOM; Sudershan Agarwal, former Governor of Uttaranchal and Sikkim; and MP journalist H.K. Dua would do the preliminary screening of the nominations put forth by individuals/institutions from all walks of life.

Mr. Jindal said nominations would be a three-tier process and be transparent “as no one affiliated to Jindal in any capacity would be part of the nomination process, and the nominations would be open to public scrutiny.”

“If the response to this charity initiative is good, I would extend the categories and the prize money in future,” he said. “It would be ensured that the nominees are not doing anything for personal or political advantage. If someone doing good work is too shy to file a nomination or come to collect the award, we would send out research team to do the needful. I will have no involvement in the nomination process. I may not even go to the felicitation ceremony.”

The idea of the award, Mr. Jindal said, germinated eight years ago, but was put on hold as some felt the huge prize money might be misused. He feared some awardees might instantly indulge in a lavish lifestyle.

“Four years go, I again discussed it with intellectuals and discovered that genuine people in the service of humanity could be contacted. We made 22 drafts of the plan before we reached this one that is totally free from any manipulation.”

The last date for nomination is April 30, and the results will be announced in September-October. Forms can be downloaded from www.jindalprize-org.

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