$50m. wish-list

MUMBAI Nov. 13. The Maharashtra Chief Minister, Vilasrao Deshmukh, today met the Microsoft Chief Software Architect, Bill Gates, and presented him with a long wish-list, which may cost the latter some $ 50 m. if not more. But Mr. Gates made no commitments, either in public or in his meeting with Mr. Deshmukh at a South Mumbai hotel.

Earlier, Mr. Deshmukh, speaking before a full auditorium at an event of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, said he had read in a newspaper that Mr. Gates was a ``man with a $ 24 billion heart.'' That sum is the corpus of the Gates Foundation. Now, by doling out some more, he said, ``you can add one billion more hearts to it.''

Mr. Gates, sitting in the front row among the audience, just smiled. Then Mr. Deshmukh made his public ``request for $ 16.5 million'' for a programme on HIV/AIDS in Maharashtra and some more for other things.

Mr. Deshmukh listed his requirements at a separate 45-minute meeting with Mr. Gates. While the Chief Minister explained Maharashtra's progress in IT sector, he also listed the funds requirement for supplying computers to 8,000 schools and imparting IT training to teachers.

Also, help was sought to fight malaria and modernise hospitals.

The Government also wanted a partnership with Mr. Gates in e-governance.

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