New Delhi: Microsoft founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates today called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and lauded his focus on sanitation and the ambitious scheme to bring the poor people under the banking system through the Jan Dhan Yojana.
Gates, who was accompanied by his wife Melinda, praised Modi's emphasis on community sanitation initiatives, and in particular, applauded his focus on providing toilets as a critical driver of child health, and a prominent factor in the safety and dignity of women and girls.
In his Independence Day speech, the Prime Minister had stressed on the need for cleanliness and declared the government's resolve for a "Swachh Bharat" (clean India)? a scheme which will be launched on October 2, to be accomplished by 2019.
He had said the first step towards "Swachh Bharat" will begin with immediate effect, through a commitment to build toilets in all schools, including separate toilets for girls, within one year.
The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana also came up for discussion, with Bill and Melinda Gates appreciating the Prime Minister's prioritization of financial inclusion, and expressing support for his vision for access to financial services for all.
Bill Gates also appreciated India's efforts in introducing four critical new vaccines in its Universal Immunisation Programme. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation expressed keenness to continue its partnership with India in this area.
The Prime Minister praised the spirit of philanthropy and public good, with which the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been working.
He appreciated the Foundation's efforts in healthcare in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, and discussed with them how these could be integrated with the existing government programmes.
Bill and Melinda Gates also appreciated the improvement in institutional delivery by involving public and private sector health facilities in Gujarat.
The Prime Minister shared with Bill and Melinda Gates his ideas for the innovative use of technology for waste water management to irrigate peri-urban land and encourage organic farming.
Creating awareness about nutrition among adolescent girls was also discussed.