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'I wanted to give away my wealth'

india Updated: May 15, 2010 01:00 IST
Sanchita Sharma

"When I set up Microsoft, I knew I wanted to give away my wealth. But then I was fanatically focused on making good software... I certainly did not know I'd be visiting the Kosi riverbelt in Bihar asking a Musahar woman the names of her seven children," said Bill Gates, 54, Microsoft founder and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), who returned to Seattle on Friday.

Of the four days he stayed in India, two were spent in observing micro-finance, immunisation and polio initiatives in rural Amethi with Rahul Gandhi and in Guleria, a Musahar (rat-eating "maha-Dalits") village.

"Rahul and I may have spent 10 minutes not discussing health, but that's all I discussed in my meetings with PM (Manmohan) Singh and Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad," he said.

India is the biggest recipient of BMGF grants, getting around $ 1 billion of the body's $ 13.1 billion in grants for global health.

"We're travelling to Africa with the kids next year but going to slums is not a favourite part of their trip," said Gates, who has three children, Jennifer Katharine, 13, Rory John, 11, and Phoebe Adelle, 8.

Gates entered into a partnership with the Bihar government to provide mother and child health services ranging from family planning initiatives to improving nutrition.

He also met vaccine-manufacturers to explore development of high volume-low-cost vaccines.

"India has an amazing vaccines portfolio... We counting on these for the world's children, not just India's," he said.