MUMBAI (AFP) - They may build skyscraper mansions, travel by private jet and throw sumptuous wedding parties, but it seems India’s super-rich are much slower at opening their wallets for charity.

India now has 55 dollar billionaires, the fifth-biggest number in the world, according to a Forbes ranking this month. But like other emerging economies such as China, its charitable giving still lags markedly behind that in the West where the tradition of wealthy businessmen donating chunks of their fortunes is much more deeply ingrained. Pakistan and Bangladesh came in respectively at 85 and 109 in the same survey. High net worth Indians gave up an average 3.1 percent of their income to charitable causes in 2011 - up from 2010 but far behind the 9.1 percent average in the United States, according to global consultancy Bain & Company.

But analysts say the upturn in giving as more Indians get seriously rich is going at a snail’s pace. “The pace for corporate India and especially the new rich giving up its wealth is excruciatingly slow,” said Manjeet Kripalani, executive director at Gateway House, a Mumbai-based think tank.

“Corporate philanthropy needs to look at a thoughtful way of scaling up giving,” she told AFP. While impressive growth in the past decade has created a swathe of Indian tycoons, the more recent economic slowdown has compounded the slow take-up of philanthropy, despite a pressing need to tackle widespread poverty.

“Giving is impacted by sentiment, which remains weak at the moment. It is likely to be flat or extremely moderate in terms of growth,” said Arpan Sheth, author of Bain’s annual Indian study. The latest report released this month did not give fresh statistics, but said donors were “putting a higher bar on understanding the impact of their giving, before they commit to causes” in the tough business environment. India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, chief of Reliance Industries and owner of a billion-dollar, 27-storey family home, has criticised Western corporate charity as a “disempowering tool” that “increases dependency”.