Mumbai: In an unexpected move, 36 leading Jain businessmen from India and abroad donated Rs 540 million ($13.75 million) to set up five academies to train students for the civil services examinations.
The donations — each amounting to Rs 15 million — were made following an appeal by Jain spiritual leader Munishri Nayapadam Sagarji Maharaj at the Jain International Trade Organisation (JITO) fair that opened on Thursday.
One of the JITO organisers, Girish Shah, said the money collected would be utilised to set up five training academies to prepare students for the prestigious Indian Administrative Services (IAS).
Admissions will not be restricted only to Jains but deserving students from all sections of society shall be admitted, he added. The first such institute is already functional in New Delhi.
"The new academies shall be set up by July this year in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Indore and Chennai," Shah said.
He said that usually Jain students, who are mostly into businesses, are not inclined towards government services. "For those who are interested in serving the country and society, this will open an appropriate avenue," he explained.
The JITO fair opened on Thursday with nearly 200,000 people in attendance at the sprawling NSE Exhibition Grounds in Goregaon in northwest Mumbai.
Dignitaries like the Sheikh of Dubai, IT wizard Sam Pitroda, union ministers Praful Patel and Sushilkumar Shinde, the chief ministers of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa, Shiv Sena executive President Udhav Thackeray and Dipak C Jain, dean, Kellog School of Management, Chicago, US, will visit the fair over the next three days.
JITO president Hemant Shah said the three-day fair will give Jain businessmen and industrialists an opportunity to showcase their products and services to an estimated one million visitors from all over the world.
JITO vice-president Champalal Vardhan told IANS that 10,000 Jain delegates from 50 countries would take part in the international conference, which will be held during the fair.
An added attraction is the unique Jain Pavilion, which displays over 500 rare and ancient Jain artefacts from all over India.