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Bill Gates receives Indira Gandhi Peace Prize

Last updated on: July 25, 2009 

Image: Bill Gates receiving the prize from President Pratibha Patil
Photographs: Domal Kamraju

President Pratibha Patil on Saturday presented the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development to Microsoft founder Bill Gates for his charity work. 

Gates received the prize on behalf of his $38 billion Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation has been working for a range of issues; including HIV/AIDS.

Speaking on the occasion, Gates said that he was honoured to receive the prestigious award and that his foundation aimed at giving everyone a chance to live a healthy life.

Bill Gates receives Indira Gandhi Peace Prize

Image: Bill Gates speaks beside a portrait of India's former prime minister Indira Gandhi during the conferment ceremony
Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters

"We started our foundation because we believe that all lives have equal value. A poorest child in the poorest country is just as precious as your children or ours. We wanted on our part to give every person a chance to live a healthy and productive life," he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, lauded the efforts of Gates and said that the work of the Bill and the Melinda Gates Foundation is an inspiration.

"The same innovation and scientific genius that brought the digital age to millions of homes around the world can equally be used to make billions of our children healthier, better educated and empowered to live lives of dignity and self respect. This is the vision and the promise behind the work of the Foundation and indeed of the work that we do in government," he said.

Bill Gates receives Indira Gandhi Peace Prize

Image: Gates interacts with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters

"We are both proud and humbled that so many great men and women and so many distinguished institutions, on whom the world showers awards and distinctions, honour Indiraji and us by accepting this Prize." 

Hailing Bill Gates, Dr Singh said, "He is, after all, a unique business leader. Others have also showed the world how to create wealth from knowledge but very few before him have worked as hard and as selflessly as he has to share that wealth with marginalised people and also create knowledge in the process." 

Bill Gates receives Indira Gandhi Peace Prize

Image: Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi speaks during the conferment ceremony
Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been working in India in the field of health and development, especially HIV/AIDS.

Gates has announced an increase in his foundation's AIDS prevention commitment in India to $338 million.

In 2003, the Gates Foundation launched Avahan, a 10-year initiative to reduce the spread of HIV in India. Avahan provides funding and support to targeted HIV prevention programmes in six Indian states and along the national trucking routes.

Bill Gates receives Indira Gandhi Peace Prize

Image: President Pratibha Patil, Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Bill Gates pose for a photograph
Photographs: Domal Kamraju
Prior to this, the foundation had committed a total of $258 million to Avahan.

In June 2006, Gates announced that he would step down from full-time work at Microsoft to do part-time work and devote most of his energy and time to the Foundation.

His last full-time day at Microsoft was on 27 June 2008, though he remains its non-executive chairman. 

As of July 2009, the foundation committed nearly $1 billion for health and development projects in India. Globally, it has committed approximately $11.95 billion in grants for global health.