From Riches to Rags

Imagine a kinder, humbler Microsoft--one designed to spend money, not make it. That's the kind of philanthropy Bill and Melinda Gates have invented. The story of a very risky venture

"The man who dies rich dies disgraced." --ANDREW CARNEGIE

At least once a year, Bill and Melinda Gates like to take what they call a "learning tour" of the places that civilization has largely forgotten. On Dec. 6 in India, on the most recent of such visits, they left the five-star Taj Mahal Hotel in New Delhi, to which they had flown on their private jet the night before, and took a 20-minute drive to a slum colony in an area called Meera Bagh.

On the way there, through rickshaw traffic jams and past lumbering cows, a local doctor briefed...

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