When Mohnish Pabrai was a child he was lucky enough to attend an elite private school in his hometown of Mumbai, India. For several years, he sat next to a classroom window that overlooked an immense slum that flooded during monsoons and blistered in the heat. Every day, he watched as the slum's inhabitants struggled with basic survival. Only 10 feet away from this destitution, young Pabrai felt as if there was an unbridgeable gulf between him and the caste of Indians known as "the untouchables." "Not once did any teacher ever acknowledge there was anything worth looking at out that window," Pabrai says. "You had the constant smell of raw sewage, but it was never mentioned."
Decades later, Pabrai, now 47, is doing more than reminisce about the horrors he witnessed outside that window. A wealthy hedge fund manager, Pabrai has come up with a way to lift some of the most desperately poor children out of those slums. By creating The Dakshana Foundation, a market-based philanthropy with clear and sustainable objectives that are easy to measure, Pabrai is sending hundreds of Indian students to the country's most elite technical university — and therefore giving them a shot at a life-changing career.