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Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday met Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation, and requested him to initiate health awareness programmes in India, suggesting that his foundation should also concentrate on developing model villages.
The world’s second-richest man, in a blog posted on The Times of India, wrote about India’s public health crisis, education system and what needs to be done to attract foreign investments in India.
Here are the key highlights of the blog:
‘Biggest disappointment is India’s education system’
Bill Gates told the English national daily that while India is improving in most sectors and bringing in a host of reforms, “the biggest disappointment when it comes to India is its education system.” However, he hailed the fact that Indian philanthropists have taken up education as a high priority.
‘Malnourished Indian children perform two to three times worse than nourished peers’
With innovation in the fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning, Gates said that India cannot have a thriving workforce if it does not boost public investment in health.
“More than half of Indian women and almost a quarter of Indian men of working age suffer from anaemia,” he wrote in The Time of India’s blog-post. With automation reducing the amount of low-skilled labour, the health management system needs to be improved to boost India’s economy.
He cited data from 2005-2006 that shows that 48 per cent of children were malnourished. Now, these children in the present year will essentially make up for half of new entrants to India’s workforce. Therefore, it becomes clear that if health is not taken up on priority, the potential of India’s future will be lost.
‘Had I built Aadhaar, I would have incorporated many inbuilt capabilities’
In the TOI write-up, Gates touched upon the privacy issues that continue to be a key concern regarding Aadhaar cards, and said that Nandan Nilekani has been careful in not intruding upon the privacy of Indian citizens.
Further, he said Aadhaar is like a lie detector, where any attempt to steal someone’s identity is bound to get caught.
‘Building toilets like opening accounts’
Swachh Bharat programme: Known to always push people for sanitation, Bill Gates said hailed Narendra Modi’s cleanliness programme, saying “building toilets is like opening saving accounts.” However, he said the “behaviour” of villagers against open defecation needs to be changed and the toilets must be well-enough built to motivate people to use them.
'Satya Nadella is better than me'
Gates praised Nadella, saying he understands the difference between managing people and having a scientific intelligence quotient (IQ). Calling him a "Zen person", Gates said Nadella always extracts maximum value of his time whenever he visits Microsoft.