Vasu Chanchlani: An Entrepreneur, A Visionary Philanthropist
An Interview with Vasu Chanchlani
By Renu Mehta *
Mr. Vasu Chanchlani is a serial entrepreneur and a visionary philanthropist supporting projects having transformational impact. He is one of the founding members of Canada India Foundation and currently a Member of the Executive Board. Mr. Chanchlani’s philanthropic initiatives are numerous and include the CIF Chanchlani Global Indian Award, Chanchlani India Policy Centre at University of Waterloo, Chanchlani Research Centre at University of McMaster to understand causes of heart disease and diabetes among South Asians, Chanchlani Global Health Research Award and the Chanchlani Global Vision Research Award with CNIB.
Mr. Chanchlani has received numerous awards and was most recently presented with the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award, the highest award from the Government of India to a member of the Indian Diaspora.
Q. You have been instrumental in the initiative behind the CIF Chanchlani Global Award. Tell us about this award?
The CIF Chanchlani Global Indian Award was created by Canada India Foundation (CIF) to recognize an individual who demonstrates global leadership, vision and professional excellence. We have committed one million dollars as endowment towards the Award fund. As well, there are additional monetary commitments from several CIF Charter Members. The award recipient receives a custom designed trophy along with a cheque for $50,000, payable to a charitable institution of their choice.
Q. What constitutes the qualities of a Global Indian?
A Global Indian is defined his professional accomplishments, global impact in the realm of his professional accomplishments, his positive reputation, his accomplishments outside his profession, primarily in the area of philanthropy and societal impact of his philanthropic initiatives. In short, A Global Indian is a person, who invokes a great sense of pride and positive energy is all of us, members of the global Indian diaspora.
Q. Tell us about this year's recipient?
This year, the CIF Chanchlani Global Indian Award will be presented to Narayana Murthy, Founder and Executive Chairman of India’s IT powerhouse Infosys. Murthy has been described by Time Magazine as the Father of Indian IT sector, and as one of the 12 greatest entrepreneurs of our time by Fortune magazine. He founded Infosys in 1981 and served as its CEO from 1981 to 2002 and as chairman from 2002 to 2011, guiding the company to become a multinational corporation and leader of India’s software revolution. Murthy is the recipient of Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian award by the Government of India, and has also been honoured by the governments of France and United Kingdom.
Q. Other people who have received this award
Narayana Murthy is the fifth recipient of this award and joins a select company of the Award recipients including Deepak Chopra, renowned thinker, writer and speaker on human empowerment and a strong proponent of alternative medicine; Sam Pitroda, pioneer of India’s telecom revolution, Tulsi Tanti, trailblazer in the deployment of wind power and Ratan Tata, India’s most respected industrialist and philanthropist.
Q. What is the selection process for the Award?
The selection of the CIF Chanchlani Global Indian Award is made by a committee of CIF members. Any CIF member can make a nomination. All nominated persons are rated against a 12 point criteria, including the person’s accomplishment in his/her chosen profession, name recognition of the person by way of other awards received, technological, societal or wealth creation impact of the person and his/her influence in India or country of residence. Based on the ratings as provided by committee members, the year’s recipient is chosen. The recipient is then contacted to secure his acceptance of the Award nomination and his willingness to accept the Award in person. I must emphasize that the person chosen for the Award is the “recipient” of the Award, rather than the “winner” as we do not view the Award as a contest, rather as an honour recognising the person as Global Indian.
Q. The funds are donated to the Award recipient’s charity of choice? Which charities have benefited in the past?
CIF does not dictate which charity the funds should go to. All of our past recipients have been pro-active philanthropists, who have set up or enabled formation of charitable foundations that support a number of worthy causes in India. Some of the recipients of the funds of the CIF Award amount, directed by the award recipients, include the Taj Welfare Trust, supporting the families of the victims of the 26/11 terrorist attack that destroyed a number of families in Mumbai and the Akshay Patra foundation, whose mission is have an unending supply of meals for the poor and the needy.
Q. When will this year’s award be presented?
The Award will be presented at one of the most anticipated events of the year, the CIF Award Gala to be held on Saturday, April 26 at the Westin Harbour Castle in Toronto. Around 600 high profile guests are expected to attend this year’s Gala including Federal and provincial Ministers as well as leading business entrepreneurs and senior executives.