Indian-American philanthropist Meera Gandhi on the art and commerce of giving

Indian-American philanthropist Meera Gandhi on the art and commerce of giving

By Aekta Kapoor  

The first thing that strikes you when you meet Meera Gandhi is her joie de vivre. Despite her credentials as a prominent philanthropist and humanitarian who mingles on a daily basis with the who’s who of global society – from Delhi to London and New York – Meera has an endearing, cheery and approachable persona that immediately puts you at ease. One can imagine a woman like this wearing a designer gown and raising a toast with the likes of the Blairs and the Clintons, and just as easily picture her with underprivileged kids in slums around Delhi or Mumbai, putting a smile on their faces with her many grassroots projects for them.

Instead of using her privileges and connections to live a life of leisure, Meera Gandhi has done quite the opposite, using her resources and network to raise awareness and funds for others in need. Indeed, one could say that Meera has made it trendy to be charitable.

Daughter of an Indian Navy officer and an Irishwoman, Meera was brought up in Mumbai and was greatly influenced by Mother Teresa whom she met her in her teens. Selfless even then, she often tutored the children of domestic helpers while she was in school herself. After graduating in economics from Delhi University, she went on to do her MBA from Boston University School of Management, where she met the man she would later marry and have three children with.

An executive education program from Harvard Business School equipped her with the tools required to launch ambitious projects, and what drew Meera in those days was the need to give back to society and those less fortunate than her. “We are to the universe only as much as we give back to it,” says Meera, who launched The Giving Back Foundation in 2010.

The Foundation has partnered with or given funding to over 75 charities in five continents, ranging from the Robert Kennedy Foundation in the US, to Women Helping Women in Hong Kong and St Michael’s in India. All these charities were featured in a book, Giving Back (2011), which also included Marc Anthony’s Maestro Cares and the Loomba Foundation for widows. Hundred percent of the proceeds from book sales were donated to the charities featured.

“I believe in the art of giving. When we provide happiness to another, in any small or big way, happiness comes back to us in the satisfaction that we have contributed to making someone’s life better,” says Meera, who was also the host of B4U network’s The Meera Gandhi Show, where she interviewed healers, spiritual gurus, politicians, diplomats, actors and lawyers on inspiring stories of their successes, failures and what it means to give back (episodes are available on YouTube as well as on A new book has been released with key moments from the show.

Global philanthropist and humanitarian Meera Gandhi, who has raised millions of dollars for charity worldwide, wants people to ‘give back’ as an act of self-love.

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