Microsoft founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates on November 17 met IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and discussed ways in which his Foundation could participate in areas such as digital inclusion, healthcare, e-agriculture and e-payments.
“It’s very exciting time in India and digital platform opportunities are amazing,” Gates, who is also the co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said after the 30-minute meeting. Indian Government has invested in payment banks and payment infrastructure, he said adding, “Now, its the case of building application on top of those.
“We need to work on health applications, agriculture applications, and our Foundation is committed to working in these areas. So, our relation with Ministry will be critical,” he said.
Asked as to how his Foundation will partner with Government on health applications, the IT czar, who is also one of the richest man in the world, said an example of the same could be health records.
“It’s the question of having health records, what should it look like, how do we ensure it’s standardized, kept private. There is a lot of experience on this globally, but with …our desire to create efficiency, having a health record will be important,” he said.
Speaking to reporters after the interaction, Prasad said Gates had expressed keen interest in digital payments, digital health and e-agriculture in India, and shared his ideas in these areas.
“I talked to him about the nature of Aadhaar, Aadhaar enabled payment and other platforms we have created, and also the area of digital healthcare, and Digital India,” Prasad said.
Officials who were present at the meeting said that Prasad and Gates also discussed postal payments bank and digital financial inclusion.
“Gates is aware of Aadhaar and Unified Payment Interface as being two building blocks, and the Foundation wants to work with start-ups who can build value-added services for bottom of the pyramid,” he said.
Another area of interest in India for Microsoft is the cyber security, the official added.