3, 2012 PuneMirror
Meeting minutes with
different faces, and the Microsoft founder wears one defined by humility,
found the Poonawallas as they showed him around their vaccine
easy to be overawed by a man like Bill Gates, especially when he is
your private guest on his second visit to the city. Healthcare,
sanitation and education for the underprivileged across the world have
been his priority since Gates unconsciously declared himself as one of
the rare billionaire philanthropists. Once the Poonawallas, his hosts
in the city last Thursday, got over their awe and admiration for the
man, they decided to watch him closely, if only to learn what makes
Gates, Adar and Cyrus Poonawalla at the Serum Institute on Thursday
Time management is Gates’s equity, his hosts decided.
“Anybody can donate money for charity but this man is not doing only that.
He is educating himself by spending his precious time visiting every
village which is on his radar of providing healthcare and sanitation
facilities,” said Cyrus Poonawalla. “Humility is his hallmark. The most
important lesson I learnt from him is that charity has different faces.
For him it is saving lives of children in the Third World where poverty
does not allow them to get even basic healthcare. The time that he spent
at Serum Institute of India was a memorable experience for all of us.
Gates had added a few more admirers to his already huge list. Let me be
honest, it simply was a humbling experience for me,” said the man who
Gates considers as one of his “seven vaccine heroes”.
Cyrus was not alone in being left awestruck by the modesty shown by the
former chief of Microsoft. His son Adar, who was constantly by Gates’s
side as he showed him around Serum, was clearly mesmerised by the
57-year-old guest’s passion for philanthropy.
“Gates has developed a passion
for saving lives around the world mainly, his interest being the Third
World, particularly. He wants to source affordable vaccines for the 20
most common diseases, which he believes can save millions of lives,” Adar
Adar added, “His quiet demeanor speaks. It projects the face of a man who
is on a mission. What struck me most during our interaction was his eye
for detail and his belief that every minute is ‘very precious’, hence
never to be wasted.”
Before he arrived, the Poonawallas thought that they might interest him in
other ideas and happenings around the country. Gates, though, was focused.
Right now medicines and vaccines were his objective; and he was more
interested in learning how fast the company could manufacture the new
Injectable Polio Vaccine and what clinical trials were in progress to
create more vaccines.
“I don’t know about
anybody else, but Gates has surely taught me that apart from donating
money, there can many more ways in which charity can be done. How does
a man like him work so tirelessly for the development of medicines, I
wondered. I was really curious to know where he draws such bountiful
energy from, and most importantly, how does he keep his motivation
going,” said Adar.
Adar recalled that when they were at dinner, savouring some silken
smooth butter chicken and naan, Gates only wished to speak about
healthcare and not the origins of one of the country’s favourite food
exports to the West.
“Watching him at such close quarters I am now inspired to do more for the
needy in Pune and the surrounding areas. After the Azim Premji-organised
get-together in Bangalore, attended by a few high-ranking Indians on the
Forbes List on Friday in honour of Gates, we have decided to acquire a
hospital and build new ones too around the city.
We are already funding a few schools in the rural areas but now we want to
implement the Premji model for building primary schools on a larger scale
as the cost is less,” said Adar.
No chance to indulge in small talk and valuable frivolities, the
Poonawallas, we are sure will be astute in the way they divide their time
between work and pleasure, thanks to the Gates touch.