Bill Gates’ Fix for India’s Ills: Technology

Microsoft Chairman Gates says technology — from an electronic network for urban workers to a national ID card project — can help India overcome its challengesIt may seem a bit far-fetched and naive, but Bill Gates thinks he has the solutions for India’s biggest challenges. How can the country solve its health-care problems, the nightmare of distributing vaccines, and the shortage of doctors? Technology, he says. Alleviate poverty and streamline public distribution of food rations? Try technology, he suggests. How about providing the urban poor with jobs? You guessed it: technology.The idea that low-cost technological innovations could transform the lives of the poor has long been the Holy Grail of India’s information technology and scientific boffins. With their country boasting nearly 7 million people working in one of the most modern IT industries in the world, Indians seem convinced that one of these days a technology-based solution will help the country vault over decades of government neglect. “India is taking its self-confidence, [the realization] that it is very innovative, and now saying let’s invest in ourselves,” says Microsoft Chairman and former CEO Bill Gates, speaking at a business forum on July 23 in New Delhi before picking up an award from the Indian government. “In spite of the tough times, this country hasn’t said let’s pull back on investing in the future.”

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