Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Bill enters into many Gates in his four-day trip…

Bill Gates visit to India was looked upon with great expectation from one and all. I happened to keep tab of few points of his short and action packed visit to India.

One morning he meets the Finance minister, Chidambaram and I was deeply impressed by one quote in one of the leading newspaper of India. It said, “ An ex-Harvard grad meets his old college mate who dropped out “ (the quote may not be the exact one but this is what it meant in short). The two shared the breakfast table and spoke on a wide spectrum of topics. Bill this time ignored his English breakfast and liked the upma and he lately went ga ga about that…

That very night I saw a head to head discussion between Bill and Murthy, on NDTV and the anchor being the smart and debonair Prannoy Roy. The discussion was interesting with regular dosages of humor and all the three were in full flow. To one of the questions, Murthy said that his firm “Infosys” has produced a lot many billionaires on which Bill pounced immediately, saying there’s a correction here, its not billionaires but millionaires with a smile. But the best part of the discussion to me was when Murthy quoted “The power of money is in the power of giving it”. This is because both these visionaries have walked their talk in this direction. The philanthropic gestures of Bill duely supported by his wife Melinda is worth appreciation. He expressed his plan of investing a greater chuck of his $1.7 billion booty in the development of health services, prevention of AIDS and eradication of many other maladies. He plans to put aside funds for computer education and training, including adopting 100 schools, and support an Indian program to offer computers and training at 100,000 centers across the country.

While he was in Bangalore, he said some part of money would go towards improving the software giant's research and development capabilities, including the creation of a new facility in the city known as India's technology hub. The company also said it plans to release an edition of its Windows operating system designed specifically for India and available in nine Indian languages a move that could be aimed at fending off challenges from cheaper open-source operating systems, like Linux. He also announced that company would add 3,000 jobs over the next three to four years to its existing work force of 4,000 in India.

What does all this mean – To me he is a true business man and he knows the art of tapping the market at the right time and at the right juncture. Consider a country like India with each state similar to the size of a country in Europe and if he is able to create new users of his customised software in each of these states. It serves dual purpose he generates business and secondly the product will have variety as it caters to a wide spectrum of Indian states. Microsoft has long viewed India, a country of 1 billion people with a robust economy, as a potentially huge market, and the investment always means a smart move as it is keeping a steady growth rate of 7% consistently. But Microsoft has found itself contending with the fact that many Indian companies are increasingly turning toward open source operating systems, particularly Linux, as a low-cost alternative to Windows. Infact the penguin population is exploding at an alarming rate. Open source operating systems allow users to copy, distribute and modify the program's code, and are relatively cheap compared to proprietary systems like Windows, which does not allow users to modify its secret code. Bill’s visit comes at a time when Microsoft's domination is very much being eroded.

The best part, which I liked, was Bill’s announcement of a unique contest aimed at finding the best student technologists in India (3rd year and final year grad students). The winners of the contest will get Internships, Cool Jobs, and an opportunity to work in Bill Gates Technical Assistants Team (Yes, that’s true!).
Here’s how:The contest comprises of a series of online tests followed by a face-to-face interaction to identify the top 20 student technologists.The contest will run from January 2006 to March 2006 followed by a 2 month internship for the top 20 contestants at Microsoft Research Center & Microsoft India Development Center in India. What’s more students successfully completing their internship will be offered a job at Microsoft India. And these jobs will not be just any job, these will be cool jobs where you might just change the way we work, communicate and live.The numero uno, the chosen one, the best of the best will be selected on the basis of project submissions & final presentations to a selection panel. The winner will work with Bill Gates Technical Assistants team in Redmond, USA for a period of one year.For more Details on the Contest and to sign in to get more info visit:

If I sit and analyse in his short trip he touched almost all the pillars which drive an economy : health care and sanitation (mentioned first) , information technology (second point as this is one of the major economy driver in India today) and finally education (in my last part). No wonder why he is rated among the top 50 management gurus in the world today scoring an easy and convincing second place.

More to come and remainconnected…These days am juggling with many a things and am fighting for time as am into something I will let you know in few days…


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