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Microsoft wants to be part of UID project, says Bill Gates

Software major Microsoft on Friday expressed keenness to be part of the government of India’s project of providing a unique identity number to the citizens of the country, saying it is a “great initiative”.

Microsoft wants to be part of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) project, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said here at a joint event with Nasscom.

Gates will meet UIDAI Chairman Nandan Nilekani to take the possible association further. On his sixth visit to India, the billionaire businessman complimented the government on the project, saying “it’s a great initiative”.

The project of the government aims to provide a Unique Identification Number to over a billion people of India.

Gates said that banking and healthcare are two areas that can benefit from this project.

Gates, in India to receive the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development on behalf of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, supported free exchange of talent between countries. “There should not be any restriction in the flow of ideas,” he said, talking about immigration policies.

When Nasscom president Som Mittal referred to US President Barack Obama’s statement that his government would create more jobs in Buffalo than in Bangalore, the software architect said, “Fortunately it (job market) is not a zero-sum market.”

“I can’t predict anything. Immigration policy (of the US) might actually get more strict. It would be great mistake,” said Gates, who has been frequently at the top on the world’s richest list.

“US Congress is very tough on immigration in general. That’s unfortunate. What about making an exception for a few smart people,” Gates said.

On competition with rival Google, he said it is “fun competition”.

Software giant Microsoft has recently launched its own search engine — Bing — to take on the rival Google but at the same time he complimented them saying “Google has done great work”.

Gates said, “When you are a distant two, you have to try harder … Who knows, we can make it better and faster than anybody else.”

Talking about technology, he said, “I am not a 24-hour technology person … I am not always on computers and I read a lot.”

On social networking, he said that he is impressed with young people who can talk and chat with five persons at a time.

Earlier, speaking on the fifth anniversary of Microsoft Research India, Gates said, “There is a shortage of homegrown PHDs in India.”

He further added that Microsoft Research India has an important role to play and help the country to increase the number of PHDs.

Gates said technology holds the key to India’s healthcare and education challenges.

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