Image: Bill Gates
Manish Swarup  /  AP
Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, right, received the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development on behalf of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in New Delhi, India, Saturday, July 25. Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pratibha Patil are also pictured.
updated 7/25/2009 10:24:09 PM ET 2009-07-26T02:24:09

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.

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.

(Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal.)

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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