India Questions Bill Gates and Aamir Khan: Full transcript

India Questions Bill Gates and Aamir Khan: Full transcript

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New DelhiNDTV: 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?
Aamir Khan: 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.
NDTV: And in a way you are lucky to have a position where people will listen
Aamir Khan: 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.
NDTV: 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?
Bill Gates: 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.
NDTV: And how important was your wife in this chapter two of your life?

Bill Gates: When I first said to my wife that I was considering retiring from my full time work in Microsoft. You know she...
NDTV: She said are you crazy
Bill Gates: 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.
NDTV: And a great motivator. She is a driving force behind a lot of what you do.
Bill Gates: 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.
NDTV: 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...
Aamir Khan: 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.
NDTV: 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.
Aamir Khan: 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...
NDTV: If you will look you will find them in India as well now
Aamir Khan: 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.
NDTV: That's not a sufficient excuse
Aamir Khan: Yes that's not a sufficient excuse as far as I am concerned
NDTV: 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?
Bill Gates: 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
NDTV: You do find some traction when you talk to them
Bill Gates: 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...
NDTV: 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.
Bill Gates: Well you can promise that you can't take it with you. You know building kermits is out of fashion.
NDTV: 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?
Bill Gates: 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.
NDTV: Give us like a success story. I know you are like an eternal optimist. Are you also an optimist?
Aamir Khan: Yes I think I am a kind of idealist actually
NDTV: But like, that you feel things will happen. That's what...
Aamir Khan: Yes I believe, I believe, I believe in the good in people and I believe that will emerge and it is emerging
NDTV: That's also a motivating factor when you feel that
Aamir Khan: 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 a change. I think people want to contribute. People are eager to contribute and that's a specific change that I felt. You know even the show like Satayamev Jayate. When we started the show we had no idea on GC if you are talking about, you know, female foeticide, general entertainment channel where people are watching serials and you know, fun stuff, here we are doing a one and half hour program on Sunday morning when nobody watches television, it's called graveyard time. And we are coming with a one and half hour programme on topics like domestic violence and child sexual abuse and female foeticide, you know, who's going to watch this?
NDTV: And it had huge ratings
Aamir Khan: So, but why? That means people want to change. They want to understand; they want to make their lives better. And I feel that, that the fact that it became such a huge success, it became such a movement, indicates to us that India is ready for change and it is changing. And that was really encouraging to someone like me and you know people who want things to move
NDTV: These youngsters are much better than us, right? Not that we are at the same, well we are roughly the same
Aamir Khan: Well yes, I mean I would like to believe that. I think that today the youth is really motivated, they want to bring about a change, and I feel that happening. I feel that happening I mean, when was the last time you saw people coming out on the road and you know protesting about something? I have never seen that in my, when I was in school and college I never saw that. But today we see that
NDTV: Yes, huge numbers
Aamir Khan: There is a lot of energy that is you know...
NDTV: You know in our age why was there a feeling of hopelessness, was that the country going for 50 years at a rate, growing at a rate of 2.5% a year? It's called a Hindu rate of growth and we thought that democracy never works. You've got to have a dictatorship if you want 8%. But India has proved that democracy can get you 8% growth rate and these kids are doing it.  When you go to the only large democracy that grows at such a high rate it brings hope. But it does not mean that there is going to be a trickle down, the market does not work.
Bill Gates: Well some agree the market has been interfered with when you have subsidies, labour, land, you know, not allowing companies to come in. You will be surprised by how all the market works if we give it a chance to work. And that's for when we do the reforms
NDTV: But in certain areas doesn't, like vaccines for example. But give us some, an example of a successful vaccine programme.
Bill Gates: Well India at this point has 1.7 million children under the age of 5 who die every year. And it is such tragic thing. But if you go back 10 years ago it was over 3 million. So it has come down a lot. So you might say what's going happen going forward? Well we know that if we get the new vaccines out there, if we treat children in the first 30 days we can get it below a million. So a recent development is that Dr Raj Bhan, an Indian scientist, and a group he works with has created a very effective and low cost vaccine for rotavirus, which is about 40% of all diarrheas. And that's in the process of being approved. There is an Indian company that is making it in high volume. So you know when that gets out there that alone would cut well over a hundred thousand of those deaths. And a lot of kids will grow up and their brain will develop in a better way. And so as we improve health it is pretty magical, it's not just the deaths that go down, it's the potential of all those kids is realized, where diarrhea, malnutrition, a variety of these things have held that back now.
NDTV: It is such a simple way. A vaccination can bring your death rate of children down by half. It's just like a no-brainer, which we haven't done for 100 years. It's like crazy.
Aamir Khan: Actually I feel it's how we look at health and how we look at children. So it's our whole approach and whole point of view towards children and towards health care. Now India, you know we spend 1.4 % of our GDP as I discovered during Satyamev Jayate on health care, 1.4%, which I believe is very low. I am not an economist; my understanding is the average is about 8%, you know, in other countries
NDTV: That's shocking 1% as compared to 8%
Aamir Khan: And In the US it's even higher
Bill Gates: 19%
Aamir Khan: 19% spent on health care. So I am saying that how much do we value our health? We have to ask ourselves that question. How much do we value our children? If we really do value our children, then why are we not moving in that direction? If we do value our health why are we not moving in that direction? And we need to ask those questions to the people whom we are entrusting. When we hold elections we entrust people to look after the country for us and run it for us for five years. And when they make up budgets in which they put, you know, less money for health care and more for defence, then that's a question we need to ask them, is my health not important enough? Why has public health been sidelined so badly? That someone like me, who can afford it, can go to a hospital which is a private hospital, but what happens to someone who cannot afford it? So what happens to that person who, because of the taxes he or she is paying has a right to that public health? You know a lot of us do not understand this. So let me explain this because a lot of people are watching this on television. I am being very simplistic, but bear with me. You know a lot of people feel that yaar, I am not paying taxes because I am not rich enough to pay the taxes, I don't come under income tax so it's not my money that is coming back to me. No, you are, indirect taxes, you are buying salt you are paying tax, you are buying sugar you are paying tax, and everything you purchase has got a tax on it. And if you are poor, then you are probably paying more proportionately from your income in indirect taxes than a person who is rich
NDTV: You are quit a good economist yaar
Aamir Khan: What I am trying to say is that this is your wealth. The money that the country collects belongs to you and me. It has not come from anywhere else. It is my money. It is your money. So we do have a right to ask what are you doing with my money and how are you spending it. I want to know how you are spending it? Why is such a little is being spent on health care? That is my right. I should not be begging for it.
They should be doing what you tell them to.

Aamir Khan: The people we appoint are selected by us to do a job you know, so we have the right to ask them why that is not happening
Bill Gates: Yes, I think there is the budget question of keeping the priority of having the health budget grow. There is also the question of quality of execution and that's often at the state level. And so if you look at India, the variation between the quality of taking the money and actually getting the delivery is quite vast you know. You go almost from the worst in the world to almost the best in the world between the various states in India. So it's very exciting to me that in some of these elections, instead of people asking is that person from my club, they really should be asking hey, what they did about vaccination rates.
NDTV: Absolutely right
Bill Gates: So when we have that competition in excellence then there is inter state jealousy. If their state can do it, why my state can't do it. I think it is one of the more positive dynamics in the country because you do have some wonderful examples of getting a lot done, even with quite limited budgets that exist. 
NDTV: Actually it is the major change that you are talking about. The first 40 years, whether you did anything or not in your constituency, you were voted back into power, 80% people were voted back in power. Now if you deliver you are voted back, if you don't you are thrown out. It's a 50- 50 ratio now. If you deliver on roads, on water, electricity that was 10 years ago, but now they want roads, water, electricity, education, health. You deliver on those you are voted back. So the people in our democracy are pushing our politicians at last. It's a mature democracy yes, that's how it is supposed to work.
Let's take questions from these youngsters. I do have one from Uruj Fatima. Are you here Uruj Fatima? Yes you are. Why don't you, which college are you from?
Uruj Fatima:
LSR, Lady Shri Ram. The question that I wanted to ask is that you know there are so many debates and protests held over LPG, petrol hike, etc. However nothing such happens when it comes to the health of young children. Why do you think this is happening, has the government really institutionalised the inequity to the point that the voices of the poor are no longer heard?
Aamir Khan:
You know I don't know whether we should blame the government for that. I think we should ask that question to ourselves, that when we are willing to protest about certain things like LPG gas as you mentioned, why we are not protesting about health of our children? So that's a question we really need to ask ourselves. Nothing can stop us from protesting, if you want to, on any issue.
Bill Gates: I think it's partly invisible because it happens one at a time. You know its 5,000 children every day, but unlike the price of LPG going up all at once, you know that day everybody comes together. This is happening to people in isolated ways and particularly more in the rural areas. So the idea is that you come all together to say hey this should not have happened. A plane crash gets more visibility than the 5000 kids who died that day.

NDTV: Exactly. Any other questions, quickly
Student: I am Vaishali from Lady Shri Ram College. My question may sound as an aberration to what we are discussing but it's very inter-related. While millions go hungry every day there are a certain section of the society who suffer from over-nourishment, as we all know. So is it time now that we should also consider the gap that we have. We should also mind the gap. Instead of we all put down a lot of stress on under-nutrition, but what about the over-nutrition, which indeed is very related to under-nutrition?
NDTV: You mean obesity or may be tax on obesity. Also let's take question from the boy next to you.
Student: I am from Modern School. My question to the panel is now we have India boasting about its scientific and its medical technology. Whereas many women in India today are forced to, you know, deliver babies in a most unhygienic condition. Well as very bluntly pointed out that India spends only 1.6% of its GDP for health care. So my question precisely is, where is the lacking? And who should take responsibility?
NDTV: Right, both are the tough questions. One to do with inequality and the other is who should take responsibility to change things.
Aamir Khan: You know I personally feel that we all have to take responsibility and I think the crux of the matter is in really what we feel a democracy ought to be. Because we are working in a democracy, so what is our understanding of a democracy? Does it mean that once in 5 years I have to vote and I have done my job, you know, to be the part of the democracy? Is that how I see and I think most of us see it that way unfortunately. In fact most of us, in fact many of us, don't go to vote also. And ones who do, most of us feel that I have voted now, I have done my job. So then you know all of these things start happening after that. So I think in a democracy we have to understand that we have to be more engaged. We have to spend a little more of our time engaged with socially what is happening socially around us in our own areas, in our own small little areas. I live in Pali Hill. I need to know what is happening in Pali Hill. I need to know what are the issues that are facing people living here. Yes I think people living in Pali Hill are perhaps more financially well off because of the area that I am living in, but they will also have their own issues. But that's not necessary true because in Pali Hill you also have slums, because India is such a complicated country that you have a building and next to it you have a slum. So Pali Hill also includes a number of slums you know. So we need to get together and figure out what are the issues that you know, that we can interest on a local level. And every time we can't point to the government and say hey yaar what are you not doing. Of course you have to ask them some very hard questions, I am not saying that we don't need to. But equally we have to feel responsible for all of this ourselves. Because the thing is that we engage more, then only the change will come. I don't know whether you can expect a change from 570 people and say that these 570 have to change our country.
NDTV: Parliament
Aamir Khan: Parliament. You can't expect 600 people to change the country yaar. All of us have to change it, you know each of us have to do our own and in that I think you need to look, re-look at how we see ourselves in a democracy. What is my role? Is it limited to thinking for myself? Or am I to engage around myself and see you know, for example women's toilets. Is there a women's toilet, public loo in my area? If there isn't then I should work toward getting one. Or education for children, healthcare or whatever the issues may be. I need to have one meeting a month at least in my area. I have to start engaging. If we all start engaging then you will realise that there is a lot of strength in us and then the people we select will also start behaving in a different manner, that's what I feel.
NDTV: I must tell you a story about women's sanitation. It was in a time when Rajiv Gandhi, it's quite a long time and Aamir was not even born. He held a meeting with a lot of people and he said each one of you tell me one thing that you would like in this country, something that one thing that they should do. When it came to my turn, well I said I think we need women's toilets all over the country and everybody started laughing and so I felt so stupid and awful after that meeting, my one chance to make a difference. Everybody was laughing
Aamir Khan: That's a big difference
NDTV: But you know I still feel that we still need that today and that was 20 years ago. So sanitation is a huge issue that you are also working on
Bill Gates: Yes we need innovation now. To start this delivery issue I do think when the government does something right we should give them credit. I do think with NHRM, with JSY payment to encourage people to deliver them facilities. Those numbers have gone up a lot. Now put pressure on making sure those are facilities good. This country has changed from making most out-facilities, where you couldn't get certain interventions, to now the majority in-facilities and that's a pretty successful programme. In terms of obesity it is interesting to look at a country that has done a good job on this. You know the things like vaccination coverage, lots of countries they have better than 95% coverage. So it can be done. So obesity is a tough one because a lot of it is about your own intake, personal discipline and your activity level. So the United States for example has a very high level of this, it's still wrestling with the question of what's the role of the government in restricting certain kinds of snacks and sugary drinks and things like that. For toilets I think we need innovations
You are working on toilet technology
Bill Gates: That's right it's called reinventing the toilet
NDTV: Don't laugh, toilet technology is very important
Bill Gates:
The gold standard of the flush toilet, we bring a lot of in and have to send it back out through processing plants, that's very expensive and uses water which is a scarce resource. So we engaged scientists, put a lot of challenges, money, isn't there a way to do it inexpensively and have it as good or better than that flush toilet. We got some prototypes; we are having a union next year to see the latest toilet so everybody is...

NDTV: Its crucial to have the gold standard toilet, of water flushing in and flushing out cannot reach everybody. It's a...
Bill Gates: It's a rich world solution and it doesn't scale 
Aamir Khan: Yes and I also feel that, I don't know much about this but whatever little I know is that the last thing you ought to do is actually is mix water with your faeces. Am I right about this?
Bill Gates: No its, it's strange that, that's the best we have done because there are other ways
NDTV: No we do even one step better. We mix water and then put it in the Ganges River you know. That's all the Yamuna; that's our solution, so we definitely need that, we are killing that river, the Ganges it's dying. Yes the young man in front here

Student: Sir I am from Modern School, I like to ask...
NDTV: From school, okay, okay
Student: Here we are talking about sanitation and malnutrition. You said that we provide vaccination to children when they are born so that they don't die, but what about when they grow up, leave alone education or proper sanitation, what is the guarantee that they will even get food to live and they won't die hungry at night?
NDTV: Aamir you have done a lot on nutrition
Aamir Khan: Actually yes, I mean; but we have been concentrating on fighting against malnutrition for children upto the age of two, that's the area that I have been working in. So that does not answer what he was saying but I will like to tell you...
NDTV: You want to see the PM about this, right?
Aamir Khan: I did. I did went to see the PM. Actually for me this journey began in slightly, so I am going to go off your question, I am sorry but we will come back to it. A group of MPs from different political parties came to meet me one day and I was very curious to know, why. You know they were from different political parties and they came to meet me and they said we feel that malnutrition is a big problem India's facing and we want you to work in that area. So I was quiet impressed, because they were from different parties, and there was obviously nothing, political happening over here. So that's a good example of you know MP's from different political parties wanting to do something in the right direction. And they came and met me. First they wanted me to give some messages and I did that. But they continued to come back to me and they came back to me after two years. In that period they met me a couple of times, they said we want to do some thing much larger and we want there to be a big communication campaign, because people don't know about malnutrition and they don't know what is the first thing to do and what is the basics to do, and we feel that it's important for this message to reach across the country. So they said, can you please come and meet the PM and perhaps request him to create a fund, in which you can create these ad films, to begin and communicate these things to. So I actually went and did that and the PM was kind enough to okay that and then we worked with UNICEF. So UNICEF, the Ministry of Women & Child Development and myself and Prasoon Joshi, so we worked for about an year and a half on this campaign because Prasoon and I had to take in a lot of information about nutrition or malnutrition, to understand the issue, before we can start communicating. So this was the journey in which I learnt a lot about, well a fair bit about this issue, and the campaign is right now on air as we speak. It's a fairly large campaign as it is in almost all of the languages in India; so it's in multiple languages, multiple regions. It talks about four most important things and lots of people are watching this on TV so let me just repeat for t hem quickly. One of them is the moment a woman is pregnant, she has to be fed appropriately for one more life inside her. So the process of nutrition, good nutrition for the baby, starts from the time that the woman is pregnant and that in India unfortunately is not focused upon, because over here the woman is told to eat last. It's considered good manners when the woman is the last person to eat in the house.
NDTV: That in itself is shocking, whether she is pregnant or not...
Aamir Khan:
You know so the woman is the last person to eat, so that's absurd. The women has to be the first person to eat, the woman who is pregnant should be the first person to eat if you really care about your child. So it's the in-laws that need to understand this. The husband needs to understand this, that the woman needs to eat first before you can eat, and especially in the houses where economically they are weaker, they need to understand that. And they also need to understand that you can actually, once you are pregnant, you register with the aaganwadi worker and then you get you get more, the government provides you with food for the mother and the child. So you need to know what the government is already doing for you. So let me quickly go to the four points. One is that you should start feeding the women; second is that she needs rest; thirdly the moment the child is born, the first 48 hrs to 72 hrs, the milk of the mother that comes out is called colostrums, and that needs to be fed to the baby. Some places in India they feel that it's not good milk and they through it away. So that helps in building the immunity of the child and that's very important, that's two to three days that milk is important, And for the first six months it should be only breast milk, not even water, because water causes diarrhea and many other diseases, so only breast milk for six months and then, after six months, breast milk along with other food. So breast milk is ideally for one and half two years.
NDTV: So Bill Gates...
Aamir Khan: These are the 4 basic things that we are trying to educate.
NDTV: It's a basic thing that can make the big change...
Aamir Khan: And tell them actually what the government is doing for you. So it's very well to give information of this kind, but I need to have access to food and facilities of this kin. But the aaganwadi workers will provide you with that and they have been funded for that. So you have to go to the aaganwadi workers and say that I am expecting a baby, and I have to register and they will register you and then the process starts for you. So it is available.
NDTV: So you use your communication skills, media and all that to have a huge impact, and yours is a different channel. You are down there getting out vaccines, getting, convincing people. How do you find the people or the system reacting to what you did? Like you want to go out and change things, you want people to have polio drops and you have been pretty successful. But it's not although we haven't got rid of polio completely, but very few cases, but we need to eliminate those cases as well. So how do you find the system working? Is it easy to work in India?
Bill Gates: Well polio is a wonderful triumph. The last polio case In India was when it was back in January 2011. And so polio worldwide, last it was less than 300 cases. It's only in 3 countries and I spend the majority of my time on polio because we orchestrated a signature campaign and we will take three years to get rid of all the cases, and three years to really get things certified. It's in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria, so India needs to keep vaccinating all the kids until we really finish the fight. But they have done a very good job on that. That was a wonderfully executed programme and the question is some thing I ask myself, before we got into this, which is if you improve health or you just increase population growth and therefore all these issues such as food, education and stability, what ever, the environment is going to be tougher. And the amazing thing that I learnt was that, as you improve health, as more children survive, our families choose voluntarily to have less kids. So the only places where you have very high population growth is where you have terrible heath and as you improve health, the population growth definitely goes down. This, and you should also make available tools for reproductive health, if the women, those who have that, you should educate women because that also helps. So that three factors mean that by investing in health you are actually helping yourself with all these other issues. We also get involved in agriculture because productivity is also important. So our experience in India has been quite positive, the willingness to look around new vaccines. That Pentavalent is being used in part of the country, it's about to go national, it should be a huge milestone. Helping design systems where we can really measure things, get feedback, who is doing things well that's where we have been engaged and there's more to be done.
NDTV: Actually that's an area where Aamir could learn something from you. Everything he does is measured and results are monitored. It's not like you just spend the money and hope something happens. So that is probably where we, tend to be a little bit in India, we do our bit and hope things happen. But you got to be...
Aamir Khan: Scientific words...
NDTV: ... is it not important?
Bill Gates: Well certainly if you want to draw in people to spend money on these things, they being of a business mindset, that are we doing things in the right way and it turns out you can measure things and most things include, you know we can have satellite maps, cell phones, lot of ways that its getting easier and easier to do good measurements.
NDTV: So you can use technology rather than make it bureaucratic, because that's the old style as you have so many forms to fill in and return.

Bill Gates: Yes it's is lot of paper.
NDTV: So you do that?
Bill Gates: Slowly, but truly, that's going to go down.
NDTV: Another question? Young girl in yellow
Girl: I have this question, whenever I see the picture, when we take the newspaper in the morning I see that two different world we are living in. One world we have people like Aamir Khan and Mr Bill Gates, where they are trying to make it a better place. But again you have this business world, all these trips going on where you are trying to curb the production of generic drugs, which is very, very important for certain people, for example HIV-AIDS patients. The drugs, which are produced in India, they are very important for patients in certain African countries and of course world over. So there also is this campaign that is going against production, these generic drugs and to extend the IPRs, and I am not saying whether it is right or wrong, but then there is always a dualism in every thing. So how do you think can we tackle this thing? I mean this is very important aspect of health?
NDTV: You know if you allow generic drugs and copying, then you won't get so much of investments and research, but if you go the other extreme, you get drugs that are far too expensive for most of the population to use?
Aamir Khan: I mean yes, it's a tough one. But as far as I understand it, when you patent a drug or when you come out with a new drug, I think that you are allowed to use it without it going generic for a period of ten years, there is particular period in which you can earn, you know as a company you can earn, and then after ten years or a certain period then its allowed to go generic. If I am not mistaken that's, that is what is followed. Which seems to be a fairly good model and because it's important for companies to invest in research and development and for them to earn, I suppose back, what they have invested and at the same time the benefit of that should also come to people who are less privileged, and I think generic medicines in that sense is very important. I mean what we see happening in Rajasthan is quite amazing. The government of Rajasthan has shops, the government has opened shops all across the state, in which they supply generic medicines and they have a department, which purchases medicines from all these various big companies, pharmaceutical companies.
And subsidies in...
Aamir Khan: At very low rates and subsidises and sells it. Gives it free actually.
NDTV: What's your answer to that, it's a tough question?
Bill Gates: Actually the ideal system is fairly clear. Which is that even during the period that they have their patent, that the poorest should just either get it free or subsidised by the government, or pay the marginal cost, so the lowest cost possible. And then people who have higher incomes need to pay higher prices, because after all we want these research activities to invent new medicines, more vaccines, more drugs. And so what's being done, which is so very imperfect, is that the US pays over a, 70% of the profit of marginal medicines comes from the US and then from other rich countries, and some of that. So it's being by country by country basis, where you know a country in Africa gets all, gets this at very low price. But India some what complicates this picture because you cannot really pick the right price from India because it has a middle class, that would probably contribute to the research, and it's got poor people who should get it at very lowest price. So figuring out how you differentiate the private system versus the state system it is tricky. But I feel like we will be able to strike a balance here. After all you want lots of research jobs in India, lots of these great drug and vaccine companies are growing up in the country.
NDTV: And of course in India it's difficult to identify who is rich and who is poor in here, actually doling out medicines. So we have this Aadhar system and Nandan Nilekani is working on this, a system where you can identify and target the poor and target the rich separately. Unless you do that you won't be able to provide subsidised medicines and full priced medicines. So its a complex issue, but the solution is insight.
Bill Gates: The principle right?
NDTV: The principle yes right. Yes Sir you are not the young student, but you are little older than Aamir, my age.
Questioner: I'm Rajiv, I am a pediatrician, a doctor who trained in the US and returned to this country 12 years ago. Sir the whole issue that we are discussing here, whose responsibility is it to protect the children?  India produces; we have 27 million babies who are born in this country, 440 million children, so we are creating one Australia every year. The thing is if we say it's the government's responsibility alone you cannot achieve those goals. But if all of us collectively, like you said just now, and the proximate community where the children are born say panchaya's, the villages. So what we have done, a group has adopted a village, name Bago, which is about 70km distance from Delhi and we go there weekly and make our visits and it's just been a wonderful, a shining example, because not only we see survivals improving there, but the children are in school because we are looking beyond survival and the child development.
NDTV: This is some thing that every body should do...
Questioner: I think one should reach out to communities. We have to do it...
NDTV: How many of you do some kind of social work, means go out to villages once in a while. Oh that's a good number. That's a 70% and other 30% are the honest ones...
Aamir Khan: What was your question Sir? Did you have a question Sir? 
Questioner: Sir my question is whose responsibility is to protect the children? I personally, I am trying to find my own answers. My question is whose responsibility is it, because the problem is big? You cannot blame the government. We need to contribute, so whose responsibility it is to take care of these children? Like vaccinations are the most effective, preventive ways, but there is an expense to it and the government sometimes is not able to pay. Then whose supposed to do it, our community, our proximate community?
NDTV: You asked for the question...
Aamir Khan: Well I think when it comes to healthcare, when it comes to payment of vaccines for the poor children who can't afford it, perhaps then that certainly should be paid. I mean we are all paying our taxes in any case either directly or indirectly, and I think that the wealth that is accumulated by the country is not a small amount. Certainly we should be using enough of it to make sure that our children have the right to health from the time they are born, even before they are born and that right can be in the amount that we are decide to spent on them. That can be taken take of.
Bill Gates who is responsible for that? How much as an individual do we have the responsibility?
Bill Gates: Well for immunization to have that system that reaches out and gets every child, that's really, that's primary healthcare and it's a public good, pretty squarely on the government. They can use NGOs or private sector to help them a little bit, but it's up to them, and they should be elected, or not, based on that. But it's said that the parent needs to be educated, whether it's nutrition or breastfeeding you talked about. Often women groups are very powerful to get the word about these best practices, and those are kind of grass root, organised at the village level, without the government having to play much of the role at all.
NDTV: Are any of these problem's intractable? I think I have heard you say that they have got deaths mainly due to diarrhea, pneumonia and malaria. Diarrhea you seem to be now taking on, at least one form of it, pretty effectively, very soon and malaria has been an on going problem?
Bill Gates: Yes on a global basis it is a big killer, a little bit less in India, but that's a huge investment and there is a new drug and there is hope that if we can get polio done, that would have credibility and energy and few new tools, then the world will go out and take on malaria eradication as the next big global campaign and...
NDTV: DDT is...
Bill Gates: DDT kills mosquitoes and you can cut the way of biting down. The other new tool that's very powerful is called the bed net. So you sleep on the bed at night, so all those mosquitoes that bite you at night are not only blocked from doing that, but there is insecticides there, actually killing those mosquitoes. That brought the death rate down from about a million worldwide to under 700,000. But we need a few more tools before we can push down to have the global zero in mind.
NDTV: Are the mosquitoes now immune against DDT?
Bill Gates: Yes if; it's a strange thing if you use DDT intensely then the mosquitoes will evolve so that it doesn't kill them. Because we haven't used DDT much recently...
NDTV: We forgot about it
Bill Gates: They have evolved back to DDT sensitive. So for indoor spray DDT is a fantastic. It was a mistake to use it in agriculture because it was causing some problems. But using them against mosquitoes in a targeted way actually works very well.
NDTV: Young lady in front here?
Woman: My comment entails a critique of the media and especially TV and Radio because I think these media lack the rigor and nuance that subjects like sanitation and malnutrition require. I also think that the debates around sanitation and malnutrition in media remains sanitised of topics like caste and religion, because what we don't hear is that at an aaganwadi and or a nutrition center, which is dominated by upper caste, a Muslim women and a Dalit women feel discouraged to even take her child for that vaccination, and what we also do not hear is that if we are giving toilet loans to people in Bihar, then we are probably giving the 2nd toilet loan to somebody who already has a toilet, but excluding the Muslim person or Dalit person, who does not own that piece of land that he or she is living on, which is a mandatory requirement in giving out that toilet loan. So I think that we, as concerned participants in this nation building, we would like to see the news media, our actors, our philanthropists engage the middle classes on these issues. So probably the next advertisement that you do or the next proposal that you sign out for the next show that NDTV does, you know these issues along with caste and religion need to be discussed more explicitly, because if there is one medium that can change mindsets powerfully, that is the medium of TV and radio. I am keen for your comments?
NDTV: Aamir?
Aamir Khan: I think the media has a very important role to play in that I completely agree with what she is saying. So I think the media does have an important role to play. And I too would like to see more of that.
NDTV: I hope today is an example of that, at least you spoke...
Aamir Khan:
I think what you are saying is right and we need to think more of that. The media is doing a fair amount but I think...
NDTV: But she is saying it doesn't, skirts around it...
Aamir Khan: It does, it does. I think she is right. We don't give it enough value. You know we don't give it the edge that it really has already. I think that's news actually also, because a lot of media feel that we need to sell our newspaper or my channel needs to have TRPs, which I completely understand. But I think these are the news worthy things as well.
NDTV: For something that you mentioned earlier, we do a couple of programmes, for matter we do a show called India Matters where we do these kinds of, I mean documentaries. And everybody said you know so don't do that, no body is going to watch, but actually the viewership is very high. Just like your show, so it's not that people don't want to watch...
Aamir Khan: No, no, people want to watch. And I think that, so I think that what she is saying is completely true I agree that the media needs to do a lot more and I would like to see that happen. I think the caste issue was one that we picked up in SMJ and it is something that affects all of us.
NDTV: Is the media important? Do you, was it over, over estimated, over hyped?
Bill Gates:
Well I think the media has to be given facts so we can measure this appropriately if you knew caste by caste what the infant mortality was, even in different areas, you know looked at different religious backgrounds and where you could see a differential, so I think there will be an outcry. So to a degree we don't measure these things it, easy for them to go unnoticed. I do think; a few years ago I went out and stayed overnight in a village in UP with Rahul Gandhi and he was really pointing out that the women's group if they have done right can be very inclusive. It's really one of the measures that they have; they try to do this well. And they are kind of the voice that gets around the intermediaries, the big man in the village, or the things sort of blocking a lot of these well-intended government programmes of getting out to some body. There is hope in the future that the digital registration and the direct delivery of cash, circumventing some of these blocking factors. We have just, and this is just the beginning, I am seeing that can really make a difference. So measurements, new delivery systems and inclusive groups at the village level are probably the best hope. And media should track the progress on these things.
NDTV: You meet Rahul Gandhi a lot, you met him today also, is there a connect their on these issues?

Bill Gates: Well he was very keen to say to me that hey, some of these things you think are delivered are not being delivered. And it was kind of refreshing. Usually politicians are telling you have great government programmes, you know how so many say. Be realistic about whether its health or agriculture. You need to think through these very complex dynamics. That was very interesting and you know we are here to help so we are open to people telling us what the problems are. How we can be constructive and I think that is my wife Melinda does it instinctively, but for me it was pretty eye opening in terms of the importance of the women's groups.
Aamir Khan: Actually during SMJ, one of my big learnings, two big learnings for me personally, one of them was, that you know a lot of our problems and issues that we face in India as a society boils down to how we look at women. A lot of our issues boil down to how we look at women. One single thing and there were two things that came through for me, big learnings, one was that if we just start looking at the girl child differently then half our problems will get solved there only. So just look at it, first we don't allow that baby to born. Okay. When we allow them to be born we don't give them equal opportunities, whether it is healthcare, whether it is education. So all the girls who survived all of that, the dice is loaded completely against you, for a woman, in India at least at this point of time. Except in NDTV.
NDTV: I want to make one correction, in NDTV 70% are women there is a dice loaded against men.
Aamir Khan:
That's because you are a charming man...
NDTV: It's also true that Indian women are smarter and better than Indian men.
Aamir Khan: Yes, no but I am saying that's not important yaar, who's smarter and who is not, completely unimportant. They have right to life whether they are smarter or not. I should get healthcare, I do not have to be intelligent to get healthcare. So my point is that we have to be fair about these things, so the way we look at women that's something we really need to change.
NDTV: No healthcare for dropouts...
Aamir Khan: And the other thing is wherever we saw people working together as a community, putting aside religion, putting aside caste, really working together as human beings, those are the places where we found that they were prosperous, they were happy, even financially and economically, they were dynamic because of the fact that they were working as a community. So these are the big two learnings that we felt. That when people work as a community they prosper. When the moment you start thinking about yourself then things start going downhill from there. The moment you start doing things you realise are good for everyone, those are the areas that are prospering. Those are the villages that are prospering. The moment I feel; I will tell you for example, I want water, I don't care whether the other villagers get it or not. So I have got a little bit of money perhaps more money than the others, so my bore well will be deeper than the other people. So I can pull out my water from the deeper depth so I get my water. But bore wells are intrinsically harmful to those villages, in any case we shouldn't have bore wells, nobody should have bore wells. We should just work together and lift the water table. If you lift the water table then everyone has water, you don't need bore wells after that. And you don't need electricity to pump water from down also. So I am saying that where people have worked as a community we find them to be prosperous. And where women are given opportunity, you find there things changed dramatically.
NDTV: Just couple of more questions
Audience: I am a student and I really would like to know how I can contribute to it. I have 2 hours a day and I can't see anything around me. But I would really like to contribute towards healthcare, vaccination. So what can I do?
NDTV: I think that is a wonderful question and that has come from the right place. A lot of people feel exactly what you feel. Bill Gates?
Bill Gates: I think we should make it clear through our websites, where people care about these things, where they can get involved. Like advocacy or helping the NGOs, look into the education front, can often take their volunteer time. There are people who mentor a kid from a very poor part of the city, you know like going to the slum and help them about their education. There should be NGOs who can take that digital tool to help you match up and find that opportunity
Aamir Khan: Well actually you know there are two things I want to say to you. One is at this point of time you really should apply your mind as to how you can help. And perhaps you probably are the best answer to it. What are your strengths,  what are the things that you can offer. Maybe you are good in maths so you can teach maths to the kids in the slum near your house. So you can choose what's your strength and what you want to share with others. So that's one way of looking at it. This is one of the things in SMJ we realised that we could have done more on and in season 2 we are working on. That is exactly what Bill was saying,  is that when we take an issue, we also create partners and try and figure who is doing what in this field, which we are doing in any case, but on our website on which we got a huge amount of hits. If we bring together people who need help and who are wanting to help and we give them a common platform to meet on. So that's what we are going to do in season 2.
NDTV: And that is where Aamir Khan and Bill Gates are going to tap, he will give you the technology and you are going to give him the reach. You don't need technology to get these things together.
Aamir Khan: You know that happened very organically in one of our episodes, which was on alcoholism. So in our episode on alcohol we had a very strong partner, which was AA. AA was our partner. They gave us help and information etc and as you all know at the end of the episode we would always donate a lot of money. People would donate from all over the country, and AA refused to take money because our policy is we don't take money. So they didn't take money. But how we worked together, but how we worked together which is what gave us the idea for the following season is, AA and all its members organised themselves and on the show we gave the information about AA and said that if you have a problem with alcohol, and if you feel you need help, this is the number to call. I think they had thirty thousand members uptill now in the last 65 years of their existence in India. I think in about two week they had three hundred thousand calls.
NDTV: Tremendous
Aamir Khan: Now when you help one alcoholic person you help not only that person but their entire family. So you know what AA is doing is really amazing. And we were the via media who could spread out that information and bring people together, who are wanting and able to help to people who need help. Now that is something that happened organically in the case of that particular episode, but we want to replicate that for our season 2 in all the various topics.
NDTV: I have just one last question, which is totally different from everything we have talked about. Something else you get emotional about, would you like to have seen Steve Jobs here? What could you have said to him in this whole process, chapter 2?
Bill Gates: Well Steve did brilliantly, worked in the IT industry and it was a pleasure to be partner with him on the Mac. You know compete with him, and he was a brilliant designer and I am sure he would have gone on to do great things in other areas.
NDTV: So had he joined you in this new venture?
Bill Gates: I don't know. It's a tragedy that he is not here so we can't say what his great sense of aesthetics and justice would have let him do in the next phase of his life.
NDTV: Do you miss him?   
Bill Gates: I miss working with him. I got to see him quite a bit in the last year and he and I got to talk about lot of things. but he was a very unique person.
NDTV: Now you have done a lot of things to spread vaccines, to spread immunization, but Aamir insists that you do one more thing and that you dance for vaccination, Aamir wants you to dance. Lets have some music. You have some music
Aamir Khan: I don't understand one thing, what is it with television channels wanting us to dance?
NDTV: I will tell you what, TRPs.
Aamir Khan: You know if you know how badly I dance, the TRPs will go down.
Bill Gates: This is another thing women are better at.
NDTV: What's happened to the music?
Aamir Khan: Nahi dance wance mat karao yaar, ek aur question lelo. I think that's important
I live in that region of Punjab where Hepatitis C is really very widespread and my own Dad has undergone vaccination therapy. So in Hepatitis C there is a risk that the pregnant woman may transmit that to the foetus and secondly if she undergoes vaccine therapy then she is advised not to get pregnant, because the child is at the risk of developing birth defects. So what she can do like, if she undergoes the vaccination therapy she can't get pregnant and if she doesn't, then also she is at the risk of transmitting the disease to the foetus. So can we hope for a vaccine to develop in future, which can help in such situations, because I really see a lot of people, innumerable people in my region suffering from Hepatitis C and I pity them. I really pity them and I hope that such a vaccination could come which can eradicate Hepatitis C?
Bill Gates: Vaccines, which can prevent people from getting ill at first place in parallel there to people who work on so called anti-viral drugs that would help people actually that have the infection. As yet they are quite complex and quite expensive and so unfortunately it's a while before we have broad therapies. It's been more work but that's a tough. On Hepatitis B we have got the medicine, on Hepatitis C it's right on the medical frontier.
NDTV: Okay, round of applause and whoever wants to dance with Aamir can come and dance.
Story First Published: June 16, 2013 19:23 IST

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