[bytesforall] Clinton, in Hyderabad, Warns of "Digital Divide"

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From: eugene.leitl@lrz.uni-muenchen.de
Date: Fri Mar 24 2000 - 09:33:38 PST

From: partha <partha@drik.net>

An interesting speech by President Clinton in Hyderabad, the most
advanced IT showcase city of India....Happy reading!

Partha / Bytes for All

(This story came out today and was reported by SiliconIndia.)

Clinton, in Hyderabad, Warns of "Digital Divide"

Friday, March 24, 2000

HYDERABAD - U.S. President Bill Clinton urged leaders of India's version
of Silicon Valley on Friday not to forget the plight of the country's vast
poor population as their companies shoot up the stock markets.

In a speech in this bustling, self-styled ``Cyberabad,'' Clinton said
there was the potential to foster a ``digital divide'' of have and have-nots
in a country where millions of people live below the poverty line.

It is a struggle Clinton has taken up in his own country, where the
Internet business has created millionaires overnight but where the less educated
struggle to make ends meet.

``In India today, as in America, there is much to do,'' said Clinton.
``Millions of Indians are connected to the Internet, but millions more
aren't connected to fresh water. India accounts for 30 percent of the
world's software engineers, but 25 percent of the world's malnourished.''

Clinton was on the last full day of his state visit to India. He later
flew on to the financial capital Mumbai to address the business community.

His week-long South Asia tour ends on Saturday in Islamabad where he
will meet Pakistani military leader Gen. Pervez Musharraf and address the
Pakistani people on television.

In Hyderabad, Clinton's motorcade drove past big plush mansions that in
some cases overlooked shanties. There are 48 software companies with offices
in the city's ``Hi-Tec City,'' including such U.S. giants as Microsoft,
Oracle and GE Capital.

India had information technology exports last year worth an estimated $4
billion, which the government projects will grow to $85 billion by 2008.

``It's a good thing we're creating a lot of 25-year-old millionaires,
it's a good thing we're seeing a lot of Indian startups shoot up the NASDAQ.
But this whole enterprise cannot just be about higher profits. There must
also be a higher purpose,'' he said.

Clinton said the challenge is to turn the new discoveries of the
information age into weapons to fight poverty, improve health care for all
``without regard to their income,'' clean up the environment and protect
endangered species like the Bengal tiger.

``In all the years of recorded human history, we have never had this man
opportunities to fight poverty, and it's good economics to do so,'' he

Clinton threw his weight behind India's struggle with killer diseases,
administering polio drops to an infant and calling for a drive against
AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.

The president watched as three patients received tuberculosis treatment
at a non-profit trust hospital.

Eight-month-old Sandhya Balakrishna scowled when Clinton dropped polio
vaccine drops into her mouth as she lay in the arms of her mother.

``Oooh. She's beautiful,'' he said as he held the baby's tiny hand.

Although India had about 70 percent of the world's 5,000 reported polio
cases in 1999, it has made great strides in bringing down the incidence
of the crippling virus through mass inoculation drives. In 1988 there were
350,000 cases of polio reported from 125 countries.

In a speech to employees of the Mahavir hospital, Clinton said the
diseases still plaguing India brought ``human tragedies, economic calamities.''

Noting that India had virtually eradicated polio, he said it was now
time to make a similar effort against the scourges of AIDS, malaria and

``We want to do for AIDS, for malaria, for TB what you have done for
polio,'' he said. ``We must strengthen prevention, speed research,
develop vaccines and ultimately eliminate these modern plagues from the face of
the earth.''

He said more people had AIDS in India than in any other single country
in the world. The Indian government's most recent estimate of the number of
people with HIV, the virus that leads to AIDS, is 3.5 million, but
non-government organisations say the number could be closer to five
million as there are still many cases which have not been reported.

Tuberculosis is the leading infectious killer in India. Every day more
than 1,000 people die in India from the disease, and the country accounts for
around 30 percent of all tuberculosis cases in the world.

Shaking hands with hospital staff after the speech, an
ear-nose-and-throat doctor from New York, Vasu Malepati, held up a
``Hillary 2000'' sign promoting her campaign for a U.S. Senate seat in New York.
``I love that sign,'' Clinton said. ``Thank you. Where did you get it?''

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