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Bill’s date with India
si Team
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
“India has made tremendous progress in the field of information technology in the last few years and I am very optimistic about the future. But we have to accelerate the reach of the personal computer to see that it percolates down to the lowest level,” said Bill Gates, chairman and chief software architect, Microsoft Corporation, at the CII-CEOs Forum, New Delhi on December 7, on his fourth visit to India.

Gates announced that Microsoft India would be one of the centers for producing low-cost computers. Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology Dayanidhi Maran acknowledged Microsoft’s efforts in the areas of security, which is a key area of concern as India moves into a digital era. Gates and N R Narayana Murthy, Chairman and Chief Mentor of Infosys Technologies met at a conference organized by The Indus Entrepreneurs in New Delhi.

Gates said that his company would hire over 3000 trained persons over the next few years. Microsoft currently has three centers in the country – the India Development Center at Hyderabad, an R&D and Global Technical Support Center in Bangalore. Besides expanding its reach to 33 cities across India, Microsoft plans to set up 700 retail outlets. Gates pledged $1.7 billion over the next four years to expand operations in the country. He also plans to set up 100 rural IT pilot projects in six Indian states; make rural information kiosks accessible to 700 million Indians; and convert Microsoft products into Indian languages.

Gates visited Bangalore on December 9 for the launch of Microsoft’s integrated computing platform - SQL Server 2005, Visual Studio 2005 and BizTalk Server 2006. During his visit, he addressed developers and IT professionals in an event ‘Bill Gates LIVE in Bangalore’ held at the Palace Grounds. At the event he launched a nationwide talent hunt contest ‘Code 4 Bill’—an initiative to get students to use Microsoft technologies. Among the participants 20 students will be hired as interns. The topper among those 20 would join Gates’ Technical Assistants’ team for a year. Registration for the contest will begin next month and the contest is spread over the next eight months with various stages.

Gates also met Reliance Infocomm chief Anil Ambani and discussed cooperation between the two companies on next-generation Internet Protocol based television services in India. Reliance Infocomm had signed an agreement with Microsoft in October 2003 for rolling out IPTV in India.

Uttaranchal Chief Minister Narain Dutt Tiwari said that the global IT giant has pledged to support adventure tourism in the state. The discussions between Microsoft officials and the state government would begin soon to work out the modalities of the deal. Tiwari said, Gates had set up two academies one each in Dehradun and in Nainital.

Gates also visited the TB sanatorium at suburban Tambaram, Chennai where work on an anti-AIDS vaccine is underway. “Nobody has taken up the vaccine development for TB. Gates has extended support in this endeavor,” says Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss. The Gates Foundation had approved ‘Awahan’, a national HIV prevention effort in India, for support.
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