PM hails Gates' anti-poverty drive

Singh asks corporate leaders to join the mission by investing in education and health care

PM hails Gates' anti-poverty drive

 President Pratibha Patil presents the '2007 Indira Gandhi Prize to Bill Gates. Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi clap. PTI

The prime minister described Bill Gates as a “unique business leader” and said the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation “is an inspiration to business leaders” around the world.

“Many business leaders in India too have been inspired by its example and work, and have come forward to join the battle against poverty, ignorance and disease,” Singh said here at an event to confer the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development on the Gates Foundation.

“Others have also shown the world how to create wealth from knowledge, but very few before him (Gates) have worked as hard and as selflessly as he has to share that wealth with marginalised people besides creating knowledge in that process,” Singh said.

The prime minister hoped more Indian business leaders would follow Gate’s path and share their wealth by investing in education and health care for the elderly and disabled.

‘Toughest’ problems

Accepting the award from President Pratibha Patil at a function at Rashtrapati Bhawan, Gates said  India faced the “toughest” health problems in the world.

He also wanted India to ensure that the fund spent on the health sector was utilised in a transparent manner.  “In the next five years, India can make more progress on health than it has made in any other five-year period in its history,” he said.

He exuded optimism over India’s ability to overcome health problems like polio and AIDS as the country had the “most entrepreneurial and technologically-sophisticated and innovative societies. The phenomenal progress we have seen in India is one of the main reasons for our optimism.”

Gates made a mention of the National Rural Health Mission, which he said ensured innovation at the local level and generated impressive results.

Hailing the steps being taken by India to eradicate diseases, Gates said the country was a “leading source of creative thinking about how to deliver health care to people who are hard to reach.”

He said India could prove that “dramatic improvements in health are possible” if it demonstrated “precisely which strategies are the most effective”.

The previous winners of the Indira Gandhi peace prize include Medecins sans Frontieres, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and former US president Jimmy Carter.

“When a technological giant like Bill Gates joins the cause of changing the lives of people through philanthropy, we have reasons to be optimistic,” Patil said.

$ 1 bn for health

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has committed nearly $ 1 billion for health and development projects in India. Most of the money has been targeted for the prevention of AIDS and eradication of polio.

The foundation launched an initiative called “Avahan” in 2003 which works closely with India’s HIV-AIDS prevention programme in six states.

Gates has donated the proceeds of two  books to non-profit organisations that support the use of technology in education and skills development, according to the official website of Microsoft.

DHNS and Agencies




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