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Mrs Gates to visit India in Jan to promote AIDS awareness

Melinda Gates, wife of Microsoft chief Bill Gates, will visit India to promote anti-AIDS initiative announced by Gates' foundation last year.

business Updated: Dec 03, 2003 12:12 IST
Ranvir S Nayar (IANS)
Ranvir S Nayar (IANS)

Melinda Gates, wife of Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, will visit India in January next year to promote the anti-AIDS initiative announced by the Gates' foundation last year.

During a high profile visit to India in November 2002, Bill and Melinda Gates had announced setting aside $100 million for anti-AIDS action in India. This was one of the largest country-specific programmes announced by the foundation, which has nearly $24 billion in endowments, making it perhaps the richest foundation in the world.

Gates said that while his wife would travel to India in January to proceed with the initiative, he was not sure when he would next visit India.

Nonetheless, Gates emphasized that he was extremely optimistic about India and its future.

"I like India very much. I have a lot going in India, both on a personal as well as professional level,'' Gates told IANS.

"What I like about India is that there is this very keen competition between various states, each of which is eager to attract investments and to develop the skills of their people,'' Gates said, referring to the rivalry between Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh to attract foreign investment.

Wearing his trademark buttoned-down, though open collar, plain shirt and a beige trouser, Gates remarked that he was deeply impressed by India's prowess in the knowledge-based industry. He said his own professional involvement went beyond the IT industry.

"We are working very closely with India's pharmaceutical industry which has become a major player at the global level,'' Gates said, adding that his interest in biotechnology was limited. "At the moment, I am not making any more investments in this sector,'' he said.

On the future of India, Gates said: "I am optimistic about India. But then, you must remember, I am an optimist.''

Gates also talked about the humanitarian work being done in India by him and his wife through the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation. Besides the AIDS effort, the foundation has also funded several smaller projects, ranging from helping women and children to aiding land reforms in various parts of India.

The Gates Foundation has already earmarked over 6.2 billion in grants to various health, education and community welfare projects around the world.

First Published: Dec 03, 2003 12:04 IST