Mahajan meets Bill Gates

By : |September 15, 2000 0

NEW DELHI: Union Minister for Information Technology and Parliamentary
Affairs, Pramod Mahajan met Microsoft Corporation chairman Bill Gates yesterday
and discussed wide-ranging issues.

At the outset, Mahajan appraised Gates of the IT initiatives taken by the
government in showcasing India to the world as an "IT investment
destination." Both Mahajan and Gates agreed that there was a convergence of
intent between the Ministry of Information Technology and Microsoft Corp for
taking "IT to the masses." Mahajan appraised the Microsoft chairman of
the steps being taken up by the government to promote IT among the masses and IT
education for the people in India. The basic thrust of the government, Mahajan
said, was to take IT to the rural areas and hence empower people. A key input
necessary for achieving this objective was to streamline and support IT in
educational institutions in rural areas.

The Minister, during the course of the discussions, also highlighted his
ministry’s initiatives for the North-Eastern region in Information Technology.
The Microsoft chairman showed keen interest in this initiative and said
collaboration was possible between the Ministry of IT and his Corporation in the
above issue. Both Mahajan and Gates also discussed the possibility of
cooperation in the proposed Media Lab India Project. Gates agreed to cooperate
with technical inputs in the Media Lab India Project. Media Lab India is the
proposed joint venture between Ministry of Information Technology, the
Government of India and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, for
developing software. The proposed joint venture was discussed with MIT when
Mahajan visited the University early June.

During the meeting, the Minister also highlighted the salient features of the
IT Act which now provided the ideal platform for recognizing commerce over the
Net. Reference was also made to the recently enacted Semiconductor and
Integrated Circuit Layout Design Bill, 1999, which protected the Intellectual
Property Rights of the designees of semiconductor circuits.

The Microsoft chairman was also briefed on the telecom initiatives undertaken
by the government in recent months, especially the opening up of submarine
cables for international gateways by Internet Service Providers and the
privatization of national long distance service and the ISP segment. Mahajan
also focused on the following financial initiatives of the government to promote
the IT sector: Foreign investment of up to 100 per cent in all areas of IT;
foreign investment of up to 100 per cent in e-commerce; Employee Stock Option
Scheme for Indian software companies linked with ADR/GDR offerings and tax
holiday for STPI units for 10 years.

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