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  • Hello and welcome to India Questions. It is very, very rare, and this programme has been

  • around for a long time, and to get in my opinion two of the really greatest human beings that

  • we have living on this planet today and both together. They have never been together before,

  • although I have had them individually. They have so much in common. Bill Gates and Aamir

  • Khan. What do they have in common? Two of the world's greatest school and college dropouts.

  • So if you are going to drop out then don't worry, this is your future. They are also

  • in a way moving on to phase two of their lives, a new chapter. I can give you a little anecdote.

  • About two years ago or may be a little more than that when Bill Gates was in phase one

  • of his life, and we were talking to whole lot of software people, rather than more interesting

  • people like you, I asked him to give a sound check, say one two three four and he said

  • one billion, two billion, three billion. He was counting notes then and now he is counting

  • people being saved by vaccination, by vaccines, in terms of millions and millions of them.

  • It's a huge terrific change in your life, phase two. And Aamir, in a way you have also

  • moved from, of course you have not given up your earlier acting career, but you have also

  • moved on to social issues with this more path breaking television programme, which had a

  • huge impact and everybody said you are nuts, why are you doing this sort of stuff? Why

  • don't you stick to movies? So what motivated, what caused that change?

  • You know I don't know. I think it's; you know I was at a discussion sometime back and you

  • know one of the questions asked to my team in Satyamev Jayate was, what are the good

  • qualities that a NGO should have? It was a question asked to Satya actually, my director.

  • And he said that one of the good qualities any NGO should have, or any person who wants

  • to be a part of social service should have is that, it's not just the emotion of wanting

  • to do something for somebody else, which is in itself a good emotion, that you want to

  • do for someone, but if you feel that your life is incomplete if you don't. So you are

  • doing it for yourself really, of course you are doing it for someone else. But I think

  • that's what is important. If, and it's something that happens to you if you feel like. It doesn't

  • have to happen to you. But I think in me what grew was this feeling that I need it to for

  • myself, do something. But I felt better about myself when I felt; I feel I am so privileged

  • in so many ways. And I feel that. I really feel that when I see people around me who

  • are not as privileged, I can't just sit by and be comfortable with that. There is a need

  • in me to reach out and perhaps help if I can.

  • And in a way you are lucky to have a position where people will listen

  • And I like it to use it to the best of my abilities. So I guess that's why I have moved

  • into this space where I am. It's for my own emotional or mental, you know, peace of mind

  • and satisfaction.

  • Bill Gates you have also got a little more emotional in phase two. I have seen you almost

  • choke up talking about your Dad, about how your wife motivated you, how your Dad's your

  • hero, and how all this means a little more to your heart then your head. So what motivated

  • you to make your change?

  • Well I think it's very similar. I loved my career in software and being part of building

  • Microsoft, the personal computer and 3D internet. In my 20s and 30s I was fanatical. I saw what

  • innovation could do. But there came a point when I thought that I should turn that work

  • over to other people and think about how innovation, does it naturally benefit everyone? Does it

  • reach down to the person? In fact I got a chance to see all of that as I travelled the

  • world, and a big believer in innovation. I thought okay, we can push it in that direction.

  • So it's allowed me to learn a lot of new things and I wouldn't be able to do it except for

  • the luck, the ability to resources that came from that first career. And actually use a

  • lot that I learnt then in terms of engaging scientists and driving innovation as fast

  • as we can.

  • And how important was your wife in this chapter two of your life?

  • When I first said to my wife that I was considering retiring from my full time work in Microsoft.

  • You know she...

  • She said are you crazy

  • Well she was careful not to jump on it because she wanted it to be my decision you know,

  • that I will never look back and feel like that wasn't, that I really picked the time,

  • that I felt comfortable with that. Because it has been so central to my life I'm certainly

  • enthused about it. During my time in Microsoft, I always had somebody who was my key partner,

  • Paul Allen in founding a new era. Steve Ballmer as the company became big and complicated

  • and now in this era it's truly my wife who's my key confidant and so we get to do this

  • together.

  • And a great motivator. She is a driving force behind a lot of what you do.

  • Absolutely, she is very energetic about these things. She is actually in Malaysia this week

  • at a Women Delivers Conference, talking about the reproductive health and how women get

  • access to those tools. She is equally passionate and also was at Microsoft. So some of the

  • ways we think about the measurement and managing people, getting the best people, that's a

  • common background.

  • Aamir when Bill Gates got launched into this phase two, he talked to and convinced a lot

  • of billionaires around the world, especially Warren Buffet, to donate a lot. To be philanthropic

  • and donate to his organisation and to other organisations and make changes. What about

  • India, we do not see enough of that. We have got a great example of Azim Premji whom you

  • highlighted in your...

  • Yes in our show we did showcase what Mr Premji is doing and I think he is doing really wonderful

  • work and really we should, we should all take a cue from that. And certainly I feel that,

  • I mean I do believe that in India there is a lot of philanthropy, there are huge amounts

  • that we often donate, but it's usually to religious organisations. We donate a lot to

  • religion. Maybe that is a need in us to try and safeguard our passage into heaven and,

  • I don't know; you know because we feel that if we donate a lot to temples, mosques or

  • you know religious institutions and that's where I see most of the big donations going.

  • So it's not that, it's not that we don't donate. We donate huge amounts but they go into religious

  • institutions. Whereas we don't donate to education or to health care. And I personally feel that

  • if you, if you, you know donate to education and health care, the God up there is going

  • to be really happy. So he'll probably be happier. So I mean I think that it's time that people

  • who are well off financially in India and who would like to contribute to nation building,

  • to building this nation into what it can be and to trying to achieve its full potential

  • for the youth for the kids of our country; and for you know, emotional happiness for

  • all of us, that is one area that we can really help in, you know, in donating huge sums to

  • education, healthcare and other such things rather than just religion.

  • You think like you need two hands to clap or it's a bit of a failure, the lack of institutions

  • that they can feel save, the money going to the right place. Like if you donate to the

  • PM's Relief Fund, you just feel God knows what will happen, where will it go, be part

  • of the budget. But if you got something, the Indian equivalent of the Gates Foundation

  • or something, where you know, I spend the money here it's not going to go to salaries,

  • it's going to go where targeted.

  • I don't agree with that entirely Prannoy, because I feel that while yes, we are concerned

  • about you know where are we putting our money, or where are we donating. So that's a concern

  • that all of us should have certainly. But I don't think that you won't find any institution

  • or...

  • If you will look you will find them in India as well now

  • You will. It will take you a week or so to find it out. And you will if you really are

  • interested. I don't think it is that difficult to find out.

  • That's not a sufficient excuse

  • Yes that's not a sufficient excuse as far as I am concerned

  • Bill Gates when you meet India entrepreneurs, billionaires, are you getting any traction

  • with them that they should also donate to the second miracle or miracle of say vaccines?

  • I am sure that philanthropy in India will continue to grow and I think if there is awareness

  • that, although the government can do a lot, that there is something sort of innovative,

  • whether it's good schools showing a way on that. The people like Pratham who I think

  • are doing an amazing job and I am sure there are others like that. In agriculture there

  • is Pradan, getting smart young people, getting out there, pushing innovative techniques.

  • And so yes, philanthropy is going to grow. The only thing I do is as people are interested

  • in philanthropy I share with them how much fun it could be. And talk to them about the

  • fact that you should move from the place that you are, were, successful, usually business,

  • you are going to feel uncomfortable, because you are going to be in an area where the measures

  • are not as clear and you haven't had the 20 or 30 year period of experience where you

  • are really familiar with the territory. You will have to engage with the government to

  • at least to show the way on certain issues. So it's tricky. I think that one of the earliest

  • philanthropists anywhere was the Tata family. They were actually a few years, even before

  • Rockefeller and Carnegie and I learnt a lot from those early foundations because they

  • were pretty brilliant in what they did. I think the more people give, the more it makes

  • other people think that, should I do the same? And I hope that in 10 years from now we can

  • say that this was the golden era of philanthropy in India and the rest of the world

  • You do find some traction when you talk to them

  • Absolutely, the interest in discussion is very strong. In fact there have been in a

  • number of meetings and people are finding their way. That boundary of how you connect

  • and you know show models of government, some capacity building is taking place. The US

  • is in this respect further down the learning curve. There is no lack of places to give.

  • And some agree that the universities have to reach out a little more and have to say

  • that, okay here is programme that you can fund and they should. That's how that happened

  • in US, which is the best...

  • Really organised, beautifully organized, universities of America. But I must say from talking to

  • people that you have spoken to, you, yes you, had made them think and they are kind of on

  • the verge, wondering how much, because when you've got 20 billion, what's a couple of

  • billion or ten billion actually.

  • Well you can promise that you can't take it with you. You know building kermits is out

  • of fashion.

  • When you say, just getting back to the score of the topic today, when you move say, from

  • the miracle of software to the miracle of vaccines, what is the miracle of that? In

  • a nutshell, what do you mean?

  • Well, when you say what's the most tragic thing in the world there will be a lot of

  • things that would come to mind. But I think parents having to bury a child would very

  • high on the list and particularly if there is a tool that exists that could be very inexpensive

  • and it could get to every child, literally will stop millions of these deaths. You know

  • if there was nothing to stop it, okay, you can almost think of that as fate. But when

  • there is a vaccine, that actually rich kids who are not at the risk of the disease much

  • are getting, but the kids who need it the most aren't getting, that struck me as a terrible

  • tragedy. Where has the innovation gone wrong? So now we can see that we are making progress,

  • we're getting more vaccines out to all the kids in the world including the kids in India.

  • Give us like a success story. I know you are like an eternal optimist. Are you also an

  • optimist?

  • Yes I think I am a kind of idealist actually

  • But like, that you feel things will happen. That's what...

  • Yes I believe, I believe, I believe in the good in people and I believe that will emerge

  • and it is emerging

  • That's also a motivating factor when you feel that

  • I feel, I mean I feel that in India right now. You know when I was in college, the two

  • years that I was in college, at that time I felt that there is a different kind of buzz

  • around me, and as time went by I feel that, you know, from the era of oh nothing is going

  • to change, oh this is how it is going to be and this is how it is, I think now there is