I wished there were a section for people to comment on Bill Gates Letter for 2011! With all due respect to Bill Gates (He is an icon for humanity, a philosopher but with wealth, a thinker, an empathetic billionaire and above all a role model for humanity, a revolutionary of Gandhian/Martin Luther King proportions and above all a great human being and I pray God gives us more people like Bill Gates but these are my personal views on Bill Gates and I am not going allow my following views on his 2011 letter.
Therefore with great admiration I dare to criticise Bill Gates on the issues he raised up to the section (Miracles of Vaccines) in his letter as follows;
1. Gate’s demand for more AID pledges from the rich countries whilst being an issue ignores the problem of under utilization of AID in many of the developing countries. For instance India is still hoarding about $20 billion in AID received and is paying millions in fines for that according to a report in the Indian media upon which I had responded through Twitter. Under utilization of AID is not a political or legislative issue but plain negligence. If AID recipients are responsible for under utilization of AID then AID givers too could be responsible for lack of monitoring and auditing in a double entry system of accounting. If stakeholder (shareholder) investment were to have been under utilized legitimated questions would have been raised in shareholder meetings.
2. The issues in paragraph 1 above if were left unaddressed could become serious speed breakers and road blocks to the Health & Prosperity goals Bill Gates speaks about. Many charities and foundations set up by visionary “do gooders” often hide under political and legislative reasons not to address the issues in paragraph 1 above. At this moment in time there is only one Bill Gates and the chances of humanity having another Bill Gates in the coming years is very bleak considering the global economic turmoil so what needs to be said has to be said.
3. There is no dispute on the intrinsic merits of increasing AID but only its effective use. Without giving country wide or country specific data I can say that there are charities in certain countries in the West who hoard $120 billion in their charitable foundations some of which could have been collected by showing heart wrenching pictures of poverty, famine, disasters, illiteracy, disease, natural disasters affecting both humans and animals. The humanity expects from Bill Gates to run a charity which is different from all other charities in its reach and healing instead of following the templates of existing charities which were once set up by great humanitarians like Bill Gates himself but in a different decade and age. Institutions do suffer from value erosion like individuals and unless this is dealt with goals will remain as goals either unaccomplished or part accomplished. Eradication of polio and eradication of the depreciation in charity goals therefore assume equal importance. It is conceded the Bill Gates foundation may not be able to indulge in direct political or legislative action where their humanitarian activities in developing countries could be frustrated through such interference or involvement as the case may be. But Bill and Melinda Foundation could not have been banned from funding researches in to such issues. In Kerala, India where I grew up we have saying roughly translated in to English means, “There is no hope for a farmer when even the fence starts eating the crops”, “There is no point in filling a leaking pot with water”.
4. Bill Gates for me is a philosopher because he knew the intrinsic worth of giving. In Hinduism it is called renunciation. There were Maharajas and emperors in India before Christ like Parikshit, Chandra Gupta and Ashoka who even gave up their Kingdoms to embrace sanyasa or renunciation of all their wealth believing that humanity would follow their path in sorting out human problems. It unfortunately did not happen. Renunciation of these great men became an opportunity for opportunistic men who succeeded them and nothing happened. Humanity was back to square one.
5. I reserve my comments about the Polio Campaign in the USA to another paragraph below
6. It is still a pity that India, Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan have Polio cases. Could it be due to the issues raised in paragraph 1 to 5 above is left to the deliberation of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (“the Foundation”)
7. It is wrong to state that people need to be more charitable in an age of charitable excess where no body has a proper figure on the charity lavished on humanity in the past five to six decades involving trillions of dollars more than the founding capital of the Foundation. Yet diseases, poverty, homelessness all come back to haunt us. In the Holy Bible there is the parable of “Widow’s Mite” everyone contributed but poverty, disease, homelessness are all still there on our tree screens as if nothing had happened before to sort out these issues. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Poverty is the Worst Form of Violence” and it is so true even today despite trillions of dollars of over funding of charities. The $720 million short fall for polio eradication projected by the Foundation ought to be seen in this context.
8. It is up to the Foundation to evaluate whether its noble goals of prevention of death and disability due to Polio incidence the four countries are being hampered in any way due to the issues raised in paragraph 1 to 7 above considering the fact that only 1% of the infected develop disability and/or progress to death whilst they can infect others. Eradication of polio is not a quick fix but a sure fix that humanity deserves and the humanity of faceless and voiceless millions are looking up to the Foundation to do something different from the renunciation and charitable empathetic giving that has been going on for centuries. Please also refer to paragraph 4 and 7 above.
9. There cannot be any dispute against the projections of a $50 billion saving from Polio eradication alone but the billion dollar question is what could be the cumulative saving for humanity from solving preventable diseases, deaths, homelessness, joblessness, accidents, negligent health care etc. There are no projections of these eventualities in Bill Gates’ letters.
10. The “Resolve and Courage” of leadership in prevention and eradication of Polio referred to in Bill Gates Letter for 2011 is also relevant to the purposes of paragraph 1 to 9 above. The marchers in the “March of Dimes” some 50 years ago in the USA that Bill Gates witnessed had such lofty ideals although they were not as wealthy as Bill Gates or Warren Buffet. In that spirit of “March of Dimes” the citizens of the USA might have donated trillions of dollars in philanthropy to “Save the World/Humanity” and their disadvantaged brethren but it all disappeared in to a vacuum of underperformance and diminishing returns as evidenced by the charity collections going on today. Charity ought to be a stop gap arrangement and not an ad infinitum business venture of charity dependence to save the charities from extinction like the dinosaurs.
11. Humanity and humility as enunciated in Bill Gates’ 2011 letter does not mean fatalism even for charitable purposes and the philosophy is the need of the hour. The reduction of Polio spastics of 741 to 41 and 388 to 41 for Nigeria and India whilst being impressive if such a comparative study/auditing is done for the impact of other preventable diseases including those caused through lack of information, awareness, negligence, professional negligence………..then perhaps this world could become a paradise. I know it is naive to think in these lines but you thought in these lines when you dropped out Harvard and presented before the world the “Microsoft”- micro but soft windows for all of us to interact with our brothers and sisters in the wider world. There were days when I wished I were born as your gardener/driver/dustman……………but destiny made me a lawyer with dual qualifications with a heart that can identify with people from my backgrounds.
12. Your points about significant and co-ordinate leadership and resourcefulness I believe could be relevant to paragraphs 1 to 11 above.
13. Your emphasis on empathetic efficiency is the need of the hour and the humanity expects from one of its heroes to deliver the entire hero is spending his own resources for the benefit of the humanity!!! In Kerala, India where I come from even the beggars toss back miniscule alms as it is so insulting to them. I have been a victim of that several times in 2005 when I was with my mother during a vacation from the UK from July to October 2005. I remember watching Bill Gates on NDTV in the company of Narain Murthy of Infosys advising the audience before him besides his global Indian audience, “The World Depends on the USA Getting Certain Things Right” now it is up to Bill Gates to consider whether it is relevant for the humanity to expect certain things for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation getting right or are they going to be another Rockefeller and Carnegie Foundations, Oxfams, Green Peaces and millions of other charities who simply trade poverty porn to get donations!!!