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US’ tough stance on immigration a ‘huge mistake’

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Mr Bill Gates, Chairman, Microsoft Corporation, addressing the Nasscom CEO Forum in the Capital on Friday.
Mr Bill Gates, Chairman, Microsoft Corporation, addressing the Nasscom CEO Forum in the Capital on Friday.

Our Bureau

New Delhi, July 24 “How about making an exception for smart people,” asked Mr Bill Gates while addressing Nasscom CEO Forum in the Capital on Friday.

The Chairman of Microsoft Corporation was referring to the immigration restrictions being imposed by the US.

Advocating free movement of professionals, Mr Gates cautioned that that any move by the US to further toughen its stance on immigration could be a “huge mistake”.

Smart exceptions

“I have been speaking about some of the immigration restrictions that US has got involved in, and they are terrible for US and also terrible for world…The US Congress is very tough on immigration, in general. And my position has been, well, that is unfortunate, but what about making an exception for smart people, people with engineering degrees and letting such people come in,” said Mr Gates, who is currently in India to receive the Indira Gandhi prize for peace, disarmament and development on behalf of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Action-packed day

In an action-packed day that saw him making multiple appearances first at a keynote to mark Microsoft Research India’s 5th Anniversary and then at Nasscom’s CEO Forum, Mr Gates tackled wide-ranging subjects – Microsoft’s interest in Government’s Unique Identification project, the “fun competition” from arch rival Google, and need for India to produce more computer science PhDs.

And when the Nasscom President, Mr Som Mittal, posed a question on the future of ‘Search’, he quipped, “The future of search is Bing (Microsoft’s new search engine).”

The company has long been trying to make its presence felt in Internet search advertising, a market currently dominated by Google. In fact, speculation is rife that Microsoft and Yahoo! could be close to a search and advertising deal and that an announcement on this could be made soon.

He said that search could dramatically be better in the coming years. “Search is not the ultimate today. The top 10 links is not what people want. They want to organise a trip, or find gifts, or even learn about a topic…Although search is very cool and Google has done a lot of great work, in 1-3 years, it could be dramatically better,” he said, adding that Microsoft was hiring professionals to make the space more competitive.

“When you are number two and distant number two you need to try harder. So you will see us trying harder…we have some great ideas that we are working on and who knows we can make it better and faster than anyone else,” he pointed out.

Related Stories:
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US downturn dents demand for H-1B visas

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated July 25, 2009)
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