Charlie Rose Interviews Bill Gates

Charlie Rose is a wonderful journalist – probing and immensely curious in the well-thought out questions he asks his subjects.  

So, I watched with interest all 52+ minutes of his recent (May 2012) interview of one my modern-age heros, Bill Gates.

That sounds like a long time. And it is. Think of this mad, frantic, busy, busy world that you and I live in. Spending an hour just to watch an interview? It better be good!

it was time extremely well-spent, if I do say so myself. 


First, the questions matter. Charlie Rose is not shy about asking some tough and many insightful ones. He makes the whole interview fly by.

Second, this is recent and therefore timely. You are not watching an interview from 3 years ago where so much is outdated and old news. This interview is from a mere couple of months ago.

Last but certainly not leastBill Gates. This is a man whose personal knowledge database is expansive on a bunch of worldly topics. In addition to that, he has such credibility that even his opinions are to be savored and contemplated. What more can one say about Bill Gates that has not been said before?

In any case, what else could I have been doing during this time? It was after working hours, so I could have been watching the idiot box, gone to the movies (with a highly optimistic 25% hit rate of selecting something that would entertain or educate), read a book (definitely a higher hit rate here, but hey, I’ve picked some losers in my time)…so yes, for me, this was truly worth it!

The Interview

With two high-IQ, highly credible individuals who are so darned interesting, I knew that I had a winner on my hands and I was not disappointed. Not even a bit.

Even more interesting, quite a bit of the focus of the interview was on India. It is incredible how much Bill Gates understands about this country, and how knowledgeable he is about the present conditions, the opportunities and challenges at work here.

He also spends a lot of time answering Rose’s questions about the similarities and differences between China and India.

You can catch the complete interview here. You will, won’t you? You must!

Yes, I know your time is very valuable, so to help you decide, here are some high points, paraphrased from Bill Gates’ answers and captured from the interview (with my notes in italics below) –

  • “India is jealous of China.” (I didn’t think people noticed…)
  • “There is inter-state jealousy in India, which actually helps our efforts.”
  • “In terms of innovation and a culture of innovation, China leads India.”
  • “China leads India in research.” 
  • “An area where India leads China is in software engineers.” (Note: It’s the only area he mentioned).
  • “It is hard for India to catch-up.”
  • “Both countries looked at the U.S. and copied their capitalist market structures.”
  • “India’s reforms really helped. Every time they have reforms, India gets growth from them.”
  • “Corruption exists. We need systems that trace the corruption in order to eliminate it. Systems like digital currencies (which has been successful in Kenya), for example.” (This may be the only viable solution for the corruption scourge…not Anna Hazare).
  • “We want to work more on agriculture and how scientific innovation can make a difference there, and therefore on children’s lives.”
  • “The US clearly leads all countries in the world in terms of philanthropy.”
  • “Some business leaders in India are coming together to talk about it. At least they have committed to meet once a year to discuss it. That’s progress.”
  • “Azim Premji is one good example of a philanthropist in India.”
  • I feel incredibly good about (the eradication) of polio. The last case in India was in January 2011. The last frontiers to make progress are Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.
  • We must make similar progress in malaria and we can.

Switching subjects to software and Microsoft (at ~32:00 mins), and his personal goals and objectives (this is really, really interesting too!), he spoke about:

  • The competition and the software industry giants today.
  • Microsoft (Bing) + Facebook against Google
  • His role at Microsoft
  • More about Google versus Bing, and why he is not jealous of the success of other software companies today.

And finally, the (awesome!) goals that he would like to achieve in life, such as:

  • There are 8 million children who die every year. With the availability of vaccinations, Bill Gates would like to reduce that number to less than 2 million in his lifetime
  • Changing education so that it allows kids to explore their curiosity (what a great concept!)
  • Availability of food for children of the world- working with farmers to ensure that it is adequate and available

These are mere teasers. There’s much more that he said on these topics, all of it remarkably interesting, especially when they come in the form of opinions from someone like him.

You can catch the complete interview here.  I hope you do!


Posted on August 12, 2012, in China, india, United States and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. alison2012internship

    What a very informative blog post, thanks for sharing! I love that Bill Gates focuses on areas that will make great impact like health, education, and arming individuals with tools and resources to lift themselves out of poverty.

  2. I really like the way you analyze and puts things in perspective. A great interview and as always, worthy of being shared and read by a larger audience.

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