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Thiruvananthapuram, Feb. 26

Cine star Mammootty appeared live on video feed from Ernakulam to join the Chief Minister, Mr Oommen Chandy, at his home base in the Capital City on Saturday in a unique programme in which the computer loving thespian was formally declared the goodwill ambassador of Akshaya, the State Government's ambitious e-literacy programme.

Mammootty held one end up as the Chief Minister read out the declaration from a specially erected but networked podium at the Gorky Bhavan here. The star took a bow in response, saying he valued his newfound role immensely.

Also linked to the network were various district collectors, district panchayat presidents, Akshaya officials and media people at 12 other district headquarters in the State. Mammootty obliged his networked audience fielding questions relayed in from varied nodes housed in collectorates.

Did he seek "exclusive rights" for being the anchor in the campaign that would be run to promote Akshaya? "You bet. You may describe it a little selfish of me to be doing that. Maybe I am selfish," he said.

And did he manage to secure a handsome package in the bargain? Pat came the reply: "Sorry, the privilege to be assigned the role itself is the biggest remuneration that I could have possibly asked for."

Mammootty said he dreamed of the days when the explosive prospects of the project turned the rural folk into hardworking and number-crunching geeks to whom outsourced work opportunities would bring in the moolah, boosting income levels several fold in the process.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated February 27, 2006)
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