NATIONAL

My faith in India well-placed: Bill Gates

MUMBAI NOV. 13. The Mircosoft chief, Bill Gates, who earlier worried how things would work in India now says at the end of his third visit to the country that his "faith in India is well-placed.'' When he made his commitment— investment and philanthropy — he "did not know much of the country'' but "made a personal commitment."

"India first foxed him: daunting in geographic size and the number of people but its "energy amazed him.'' But "strong education and human resource had "made a huge contribution'' and now the good work, especially in computer education "spurs him further.''

Mr. Gates' impression of India had improved and was increasingly optimism. His second visit found him seeing "promises taking shape in all parts of society including government, business elites and even the villages.'' This trip was "most gratifying'' for he saw "hope and dreams becoming reality.'' Computers had touched government record keeping and farmers now found information on the IT superhighway.

Mr. Gates was speaking at a thanksgiving organised by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan's Gandhi Institute of Computer Education and IT. The programme half funded by Mr. Gates by his earlier $ 5 million donation has produced 30,000 computer literates from the poor and disadvantage sections. It will expand from 26 centres to 50 and produce 50,000 every year.

The Institute's vice-chairman, Murli Deora, MP, brought four such students to the podium to speak. Mr. Gates spoke of the "dream when every child would have a wireless tablet computer instead of a textbook'' and learn in the mother-tongue.

Amit Dave, a Mumbai student, said he was now a computer training coordinator. Uma Maheswari from Chennai was a business development manager for a Canadian company.

Bindu, also from Chennai, was happy that she could get a groom because of her upward mobility. Jharkhand's Vijay Joi now looks after his brother because he is able to.

This prompted Mr. Gates to say that the Gandhi Institute's project of making even poor and disadvantaged computer savvy was "a model to the world'' and this "privilege'' of being involved in it "spurs me on.''

Mr. Gates spoke of his optimism because India was working hard to develop more computer users.

But the "difficulties of communication'' and connectivity was being overcome and "computers can only get better and better'' as well as cheaper. In his younger days, he had to "sneak in at nights'' and snatch "unused time'' on expensive computers.

Mr. Deora said that Mr. Gates' "monopoly in popularity and philanthropy'' had made new lives open up for the children.

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