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India Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to pulls out of India

Discussion in 'Breaking News' started by kds1980, Aug 2, 2009.

  1. kds1980

    kds1980 India
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    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to pull out of India

    Bill Gates was in India recently and received an award from the government for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) work. India has been the largest recipient of the BMGF funds and the foundation's Indian arm Avahan received a lot of publicity but now it seems the foundation, notwithstanding the Gates' visit, is planning to pull out of India. It is looking forward to hand over the work but even the government is not ready to take over.


    The Foundation has conceded that such plans indeed are in the offing: “We recognise that the fight to stop HIV/ AIDS in
    India is far from over, and we are working with our partners to ensure that prevention efforts are sustainable. To help achieve that, we’re providing extensive support and training to help government agencies and NGOs effectively manage prevention programmes. Over the next five years, we anticipate that these organisations will gradually adopt some aspects of Avahan’s current work, and that we will reduce our day-to-day role in programme implementation.”

    The Foundation wants to hand over the work to the government which is reluctant to take over. Reports from local NGOs where the Foundation works say a large chunk of the projects it started were not successful and did not make much impact.


    BMGF has spent nearly $260 million (Rs 1,300 crore) since 2003 on “targeted intervention” in India. However, reports from the local NGOs in six states (Karnataka,
    Maharashtra, Nagaland, Manipur, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh) say a large chunk of the projects it started were not successful and did not make the kind of impact they should have. Some blame it on poor monitoring and coordination of the programme by Avahan; others say the intervention was misdirected.

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    Besides, the average cost per beneficiary per year among Avahan-supported programmes was $45, well below the ADB-UNAIDS guidelines of $90-100 per beneficiary for high-risk groups in Asia. According to NGOs, Avahan was unable to extend its reach beyond the six states it started out in. The country as a whole never came into their net. Instead, they even halved the number of focus sites that they had started within the six states.


    The Vaccine Evangelist


    In his first avatar, Bill Gates changed our world by putting a computer on every desk. In his second avatar, he is doing more. Saving lives. And he isn’t doing too badly. The man often called an entrepreneur-turned vaccine evangelist now works through The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation says he's driven by the urgency that children are dying. Last Thursday, his Foundation increased its funding commitment to Avahan — its initiative to reduce the spread of HIV in India —to $338 million (Rs 1,650 crore) from the previous $258 million. What really made him give away most of his money to charity, with only a small part left for his three children, Jennifer, Rory and Phoebe?


    “It is not great for kids to inherit large amount of wealth. Everybody should make up their own minds. At least in my and Melinada’s case we decided it would be better for our children if we give away the money as opposed to largely giving it to them. The rich should take their skills and try to give back to society in the best way possible,” said Gates.


    Gates is a passionate proponent of creative capitalism — companies giving back to society — and believes that it has improved the lives of billions. According to him, companies can make a difference while adding to their bottom line, consumers get to show their support for a good cause, and most importantly, lives are saved.

    BMGF has also come under the scanner for the high salaries and allowances it pays its executives, at par with international business organisations (many of them are from that background). People in similar positions in other international NGOs and those with the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) are not even paid half the amount. For example, an information officer in Avahan is said to have been paid anywhere between Rs 75,000 and 1.5 lakh a month while a NACO official in the same grade gets Rs 25,000-40,000. BMGF also spends lavishly on travel and glossy publications. Annual reports is another area where a good chunk of their money goes.

    The government now fears that the Foundation is leaving behind a defunct machinery and millions of wasted dollars. During his visit, Gates confirmed that Avahan, the Foundation's Rs 1,652-crore India AIDS Initiative, will handover operations to the government by 2014.


    He said India's record on routine immunization was poor.
    India accounts for about 40 per cent of world measles deaths while even Africa is better.

    29 July 2009
     

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