Gates visits east India before Giving Pledge meet

Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates on Wednesday toured the impoverished Indian state of Bihar ahead of a meeting to encourage the country's wealthiest people to give more money to charity.

Gates and investor guru Warren Buffett will meet with Indian business leaders on Thursday to discuss the "Giving Pledge" that the two men set up to persuade fellow billionaires to commit most of their wealth to good causes.

The Microsoft founder, accompanied by his wife Melinda, visited two villages in Bihar where their foundation funds long-term health projects focused on polio eradication, infant mortality and tuberculosis.

"Learning from partners and community members in Patna, Bihar," Gates wrote on his Twitter feed. "Incredible start to the day."

Buffett, on his first visit to India, said on Tuesday that he and Gates would not push Indian businessmen to sign up to the Giving Pledge.

"We'll talk to them about what we have done. If it seems like a good idea (to them) -- terrific," he said. "If it doesn't, they will have gotten a free dinner."

Gates and Buffett went to Beijing to meet Chinese billionaires on a similar mission in September.

Since the Giving Pledge was launched last year, 59 hugely wealthy individuals and couples have vowed to give the majority of their riches to philanthropic causes either during their lifetime or after their death.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and film director George Lucas are among the signatories.

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