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Microsoft’s Bill Gates affirms India central role in global progress

Terming India as a crucial country for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s philanthropic vision, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said that his foundation has a deep-rooted partnership with the country, which is fuelled by extensive on-the-ground activities and collaborative initiatives with governmental and private entities.

“India is a key country for us,” Bill Gates said on Wednesday while highlighting its importance for his philanthrophic endeavours and the impact India had on his career trajectory

“It’s the country that we have the most on-the-ground activities and very deep partnership with many of the ministries at the union level and with several of the states, particularly UP, Bihar, and now India,” he said while speaking virtually from Seattle at the Times Now Summit.

Recalling his initial days at Microsoft, Bill Gates said, “In my first career at Microsoft, I had a great experience in India where over the last 25 years, Microsoft has built up a team. There are now over 25,000 people.”

Gates, in his role as co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, elaborated on the foundation’s strong partnership with India, marked by extensive on-the-ground efforts and collaborative ventures with both governmental and private entities. He highlighted the foundation’s strategic approach of piloting projects in India before expanding successful models to other developing nations, utilising India’s unique context to shape global interventions.

“Everything in the digital realm, pioneered with the identity system but now more and more digital public infrastructure. And it was fantastic that India used the big G20 meeting to introduce other countries to digital public infrastructure. And we’ve seen a lot of uptake. And so I sat down with the government. We talked about how we’re helping other countries get on the same path that India’s on,” he also said.

Gates also acknowledged India’s consistent economic growth and emphasised the need for continued investments in healthcare and education to strengthen the nation’s human capital and bridge existing gaps.

“India’s had pretty steady growth for some time. Obviously, there’s countries to learn from that also had periods of very long growth, India will have to do things its own way,” he noted.

He commended India’s democratic principles, where politicians compete not only on ideologies but also on their dedication to addressing societal needs, highlighting the country’s status as the world’s largest democracy and the diversity of voices it accommodates.

“India should be proud that it’s the world’s largest democracy and, you’re allowing lots of different voices to be heard. I’m sure there’ll be some degree of continuity and we’re a neutral organisation. But the idea that politicians compete less on who’s in their group and more on trying to lift everybody up, it’s great to see that in India you can have politicians saying,” Gates said.

Gates refrained from endorsing any political faction, stressing the importance of collaboration and consensus-building to uplift all sections of society.

In addition to philanthropy and technology, Gates admired India’s rich culture and entrepreneurial spirit, recounting his immersive experiences during visits, which included interactions with government officials, students, and business leaders.

His engagements ranged from candid policy discussions to attending prestigious events like Mukesh Ambani’s son’s wedding, showcasing his deep connection with India.

“I felt very lucky to be included. And the hospitality was the best ever,” he said.

Gates also reflected on the foundation’s collaborations with Indian ministries, particularly in areas related to women’s empowerment and childcare. He highlighted the significance of empowering women and addressing maternal health concerns, leveraging digital platforms for promoting nutrition and empowering women from various socio-economic backgrounds.

Looking forward, Gates expressed confidence in India’s trajectory, emphasising its potential to drive inclusive growth and uphold democratic values globally. As India undergoes the electoral process, Gates reiterated his commitment to collaborating with elected representatives to advance shared objectives and promote sustainable development. Livemint

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