India is showing what’s possible when we invest in innovation: Bill Gates



Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, March 3, in New Delhi. Gates who was in India to attend an event in New Delhi has commended the progress India is making in fields like health, development, and climate. Gates also added that India is showing what is possible when investment is made in innovation.

He later said: “My conversation with the Prime Minister left me more optimistic than ever about the progress that India is making in health, development, and climate. The country is showing what’s possible when we invest in innovation. I hope India will continue this progress and share its innovations with the world. I’m proud that the Gates Foundation will be a partner along the way. I’ve been in India this week, learning about the innovative work going on here in health, climate change, and other crucial areas. At a time when the world has so many challenges, it’s inspiring to visit a dynamic and creative place like India.”

In reply to a tweet by Gates Modi tweeted: “Delighted to meet @BillGates and have extensive discussions on key issues. His humility and passion to create a better as well as more sustainable planet are clearly visible.”

In his blog ‘GatesNotes’ Gates has written: “A highlight of my trip was Friday’s meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He was generous with his time, as we talked about how science and innovation can help reduce inequity in India and around the world.”

“Although I didn’t travel much over the past three years because of the pandemic, Prime Minister Modi and I have stayed in touch, especially about developing COVID-19 vaccines and investing in India’s health systems. India has an amazing ability to manufacture lots of safe, effective, and affordable vaccines, some of them supported by the Gates Foundation. Vaccines produced in India have saved millions of lives during the pandemic and prevented other diseases around the world,” said Gates. “In addition to producing new lifesaving tools, India also excels at delivering them—its public health system has delivered more than 2.2 billion doses of COVID vaccines. They created an open-source platform called Co-WIN, which allowed people to schedule billions of vaccine appointments and delivered digital certifications for those who were vaccinated. This platform is now being expanded to support India’s universal immunization program.”

India was also able to transfer emergency digital payments to 300 million people, including 200 million women, during the pandemic. “This was only possible because India has made financial inclusion a priority, investing in a digital ID system (called Aadhaar) and creating innovative platforms for digital banking. It’s a reminder that financial inclusion is a fantastic investment,” he added.

Talking about India’s Gati Shakti program, Gates said that it is a great example of how digital technology can help governments work better. The program digitally connects 16 ministries, including rail and roads, so they can integrate their plans for infrastructure projects and accelerate the work of Indian scientists and engineers.

“We also discussed India’s G20 Presidency this year. It’s an excellent opportunity to highlight how innovations developed in India can benefit the world, and help other countries adopt them. Supporting these efforts—especially spreading its digital ID and payments systems to other places—is a high priority for our foundation,” Gates added.

Education was another focus of the Gates-Modi conversation. “It was great to discuss India’s initiative to promote universal foundational literacy and numeracy across the country. Although the pandemic hit the country’s school system hard, as it did everywhere else, India is using digital tools to make learning more accessible through several different avenues, including TV.”

Earlier in the week, Gates visited the India Council of Agricultural Research in Pusa, where he learned about efforts to help farmers adapt to a warmer climate, including by planting new varieties of wheat and chickpeas that can tolerate droughts. “Scientists are also working to increase the shelf life of millet-based products. Millets are very nutritious—a superfood, as Prime Minister Modi put it—and are also water-efficient and heat tolerant. I even got to taste millet khichdi, a type of porridge, at a “Godh Bharai” ceremony—similar to a baby shower—for two women hosted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development,” Gates said in his blog.



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