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Bill Gates Praises PM Narendra Modi's Swachch Bharat Initiative

Bill Gates, the world’s richest individual, has praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Swachch Bharat’ initiative in a blog post. The timing of the post has left many intrigued as Gates’ philanthropic initiative in India has been under the spotlight for its links to an NGO that is being investigated for alleged misuse of funds.

Tushar Dhara | News18.com

Updated:April 27, 2017, 11:03 AM IST
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Bill Gates Praises PM Narendra Modi's Swachch Bharat Initiative
File photo of PM Narendra Modi meeting Bill Gates (Image: @narendramodi / Twitter)
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New Delhi: Bill Gates, the world’s richest individual, has praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Swachch Bharat’ initiative in a blog post. The timing of the post has left many intrigued as Gates’ philanthropic initiative in India has been under the spotlight for its links to an NGO that is being investigated for alleged misuse of funds.

Gates lauded the government initiative to build 75 million toilets to end open defecation. “Nearly three years ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made one of the boldest comments on public health that I have ever heard from an elected official. It’s still having a big impact today,” the post began. “I can’t think of another time when a national leader has broached such a sensitive topic so frankly and so publicly. Even better, Modi backed up his words with actions.”

The home ministry last week cancelled the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) registration of the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), after questioning whether the NGO was violating the provisions of the Act by “diverting” foreign money for other purposes. One of the biggest contributors to the PHFI is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), the richest private philanthropy in the world, which was set up by Bill Gates and his wife Melinda.

Rajiv Chibber, the official in-charge of corporate communications at PHFI confirmed to News18 that the organization had received a notification from the Home Ministry regarding the “utilization of funds”. Chibber added that till the time the MHA reviews PHFI’s responses and reverts, he can’t say anything.

A source confirmed to News18 that BMGF had contributed to the corpus of PHFI when it was set up in 2006. A calculation by News18 based on documents available on PHFI’s website established that in the fiscal year ended March 2016, BMGF contributed 30% of the Rs 190 crore received in foreign contributions by PHFI. Any organisation that wants to receive foreign money has to register under the FCRA.

In an interview to The Hindu newspaper last week, Nachiket Mor, Director of BMGF India, said there was no basis to say that PHFI was targeted for its proximity to the BMGF, or that the BMGF itself is under scrutiny. “That’s not obvious to me, and I am not hearing anything different from the Health Ministry. In fact, I have pending requests right now that have not been withdrawn. The government sets the priorities. We are external partners,” he told the Hindu. “There is no link to anything we are doing.”

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| Edited by: Ananya Chakraborty
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