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f0022 BC-AS-India-Gates-Gandh 1stLd-Writethru 07-25 0478 routed

Bill Gates wins Indira Gandhi Prize in India

Eds: UPSDATES with Gates’s speech; ADDS byline. Moving on general news and financial services.

AP Photo XMS103, XMS101, XMS105

By ASHOK SHARMA

Associated Press Writer

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NEW DELHI (AP) — Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates on Saturday received the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development from India’s president, a government statement said.

The prize recognizes his work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It is awarded annually to individuals or organizations for creative efforts that promote peace, development and a new international economic order.

As of this month, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation had committed nearly $1 billion for health and development projects in India. Most of the money has gone to prevent AIDS and eradicate polio.

One AIDS prevention initiative has targeted 280,000 people from high-risk categories, the statement said.

"It is a shining example of partnership between government and civil society in a critically important sector. I commend their work," said India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who attended the ceremony.

In his speech, Gates said India faced some of the world’s toughest health problems, but "you have a keen appreciation for the urgency of the situation."

He cited the country’s efforts to eradicate polio as an example. Every year, India mobilizes more than 2 million health workers for an immunization day, visiting more than 200 million homes.

"To make sure they don’t miss anybody, they also go to train stations, bus stations and ferry terminals to immunize children who are on the move," he said.

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His foundation got a cash reward of 2.5 million rupees ($52,000) from the Indian government, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

The prize is in memory of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was assassinated in 1984.

Previous winners have included Afghan President Hamid Karzai, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and the international aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres.

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On the Web:

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: http://www.gatesfoundation.org

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