Monday, November 12, 2012

The incomparable Bill Gates

I remain confounded as to why Bill Gates is not universally loved in this world. Ask people at random to name the greatest living person  and you'll get a wide variety of names. But I bet, you won't see the name of Bill Gates very much. And yet , to me, he would rank right up alongside with Nelson Mandela for that honour.

Why ?;  do you ask ? here's why.

There have been many incredibly successful businessmen in the world. Few can deny that Bill Gates is one of them. But he is only one of many; many preceded him, and no doubt many will succeed him. But even in the success, you should laud his lifestyle - never ostentatious, low key, with class and style and the very epitome of what a successful businessman should be.

And then he gave virtually all his money to charity. In this, he is rare, but not unique. Others have donated large sums before too. The list of business tycoons, who have been major givers for social causes is an illustrious list.

But he is absolutely unique, in that not only did he give money, but that he quit corporate life and is now an active manager and leader of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He has brought his incredible business and organisational talents to the the social work his Foundation is doing. In that he stands alone. No comparable peer is anywhere close to him in this regard. 

If you don't know what the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation do, visit their website. They have been one of the major players in the virtual eradication of polio around the world. Their work in Global Health is stupendous - he leads the fight against tuberculosis, malaria, cholera, AIDS, and such diseases that affect the poor. The work they do in women's health and family planning is like nothing the world has ever seen. Just witness the latest innovation awards that they sponsored. It was not in some sexy field in social work. It was in innovation in toilet design - sanitary facilities being the single largest problem and the largest cause of disease in the poor world. Who else can think of the Reinvent Toilet award ?

Listen to one of his TED talks here, where he dealt with malaria and education and you'll know what I mean.

Its not just the work that Bill and Melinda do. Its the way they do it. They have brought management excellence and governance to the social field where it was sorely lacking.  On a scale that is staggering. The social sector has been transformed by the Gates Foundation. They bring business discipline - project plans, funding, evaluation, corrections and results to the social field. They work with governments and make sure governance is good enough for the money to reach where it should. Most governmental aid disappears down the pockets of the corrupt. Not so with the Gates Foundation. Nobody dares to steal their money or produce poor results - he runs the programs with the same ruthlessness as in business. He works with governments to influence policy. He doesn't dicatate from corporate headquarters - he is on the field in every poor part of the world. He could remain cocooned in luxury - he instead chooses to visit the most difficult regions in the world. I can bet that he has seen more of India than any reader of this blog has - or for that matter, more than many many Indians.

He does all this with little fanfare. There are no sound bites, no photo ops. He doesn't care for any recognition ; not does he even contemplate indulging in many of the antics the rich do. He is truly a class act.

Is he a perfect human being ? Of course not. He has his faults like anybody else. He does go wrong. He is geeky. Not glamorous. In his business days he has been ruthless to competition like any businessman. But what he has achieved and the manner he is achieving them is almost saintly. Show me one other human being who does more for this world. If ever there is a role model for any businessman, nay, any man or woman, you have to  go a long way to find somebody better than Bill Gates. 

Tell me, why is Bill Gates not the prime candidate for the Nobel Peace prize every year ?

No comments:

Post a Comment