Ratan Tata And Salman Khan Team Up To Bring Free Education To Rural India

Tata Trust, which owns 66% shares of  the $109 Billion Tata Sons, on Sunday announced its partnership with US-based non-profit organisation Khan Academy to provide free online education to Indians, especially the ones living in rural areas through one of the biggest open-access portals.

Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Trusts and Salman Khan, founder of Khan Academy were introduced by an Italy-based friend. “We connected the dots very quickly when we started talking a year ago,” Khan said.


The Sir Dorabji Tata Trust popularly known as Tata Trusts was founded in 1932 by Sir Dorab Tata, the eldest son of Tata Group founder Jamsetji Tata. It is one of the oldest philanthropic organisations in India. Sir Dorabji, like his father, believed that one must make use of the wealth one had acquired for constructive purposes.

Soon after his wife’s death, he donated all his wealth to the Trust, insisting that it must be used “without any distinction of place, nationality or creed”, for the advancement of learning and research, the relief of distress and other charitable purposes. The wealth he left behind, including the famous Jubilee Diamond, then estimated to be worth Rs. 10 million, is now worth Rs. 500 million.

Some of the ventures of the trust include Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Tata Memorial Hospital, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and many more. Each of these institutions works in frontier areas of learning, research and knowledge dissemination. The ideas that have generated from these institutions and the people who have passed through their portals have enriched the various facets of India’s development.

Unlike Tata Trusts, the Khan Academy is relatively new to the field of philanthropy. But they both share the common motto of giving back to the society and the passion to make the world a better place through education, empowerment and equality. Khan Academy, the brain-child of educator Salman Khan is a non-profit educational organization created in 2006 to provide a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere.

The organisation produces short YouTube video lectures and also provides exercise and tools for educators, all free of cost anywhere around the world. The founder, Salman Khan traces his roots back to India. Born to an Indian mother and Bangladeshi father in Louisiana, Khan has two MIT degrees in Engineering and an MBA from Harvard.  Before starting his entrepreneurial journey, Khan worked as a hedge fund analyst at Connective Capital Management. In late 2003, Khan began tutoring his cousin, Nadia, in mathematics over the internet using Yahoo!’s Doodle notepad.

When other relatives and friends sought his tutoring, he moved his tutorials to YouTube where he created an account on 16 November 2006. The popularity of his educational videos on the video-sharing website and the testimonials of students prompted Khan to quit his job as a financial analyst in late 2009. Khan Academy has been lauded by the likes of Bill Gates and Google and its founder was listed among the Time 100 Most Influential People for 2012 list.

The association of these two bigwigs in their respective field is sure to bring about a revolution in our current traditional education system by complementing and not contradicting it. As Ratan Tata said, “Education, job satisfaction are issues that will help reduce or eliminate intolerance because it will be replaced by knowledge.” We wish them all the best for their venture.

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