Gates Commits $21 m to India

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Bill Gates, chairman and chief software architect, Microsoft on his longest visit so far to India met Pramod Mahajan, Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology announced investment plans of $ 1 million for the MIT’s Media Lab Asia project and another $20 million in an e-learning program, branded as ‘Shiksha’. Under the project 'Shiksha', 80,000 teachers and three and some 3.5 million students would be trained between a period of three years-five years in collaboration with the Department of Information Technology. 

In response to the announcements, Mahajan said that this initiative from Microsoft would attract other international IT corporate to participate in the Media Lab Asia program. During the discussions, Mahajan also outlined the country’s Telecom and IT initiatives that had been undertaken in the last two years, highlighting the growth in the basic, ILD, NLD and Internet sectors. Mahajan briefed Gates on the government's commitment to provide level playing field in the IT sector with the customer being regarded as the 'King' and also apprised him of the efforts undertaken to tackle the Digital Divide. The meeting also saw discussions on the role and relevance of language software in empowering the people. Gates acknowledged that during his last visit to India, he had taken the advice of the Minister to embark upon the local language software development program. He specifically mentioned that they had been quite successful in this regard. The Minister also explained the initiatives of the Government in the e-Governance sector and specifically mentioned the 'Bhoomi e-governance Project' undertaken across the country.“Both agreed that there was a similarity of purpose between the Department of IT and Microsoft in taking IT to the Masses,” according to a press statement issued by the ministry.