The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Uma projects infotech vision

Bhopal, Nov. 23: Meet Uma Bharti, the visionary. Sniffing victory in the poll surveys, the BJP’s chief ministerial nominee in Madhya Pradesh is seeking a change of image — from Ayodhya rabble-rouser to a woman who means business. And her thrust areas are infrastructure development and information technology.

Bharti and her associates have chalked out a plan of action and a vision document. If voted to power, her government would take the initiative to develop a universal Hindi keyboard and, if possible, for other Indian languages, too.

Her spin doctors are busy circulating an old write-up Bharti published in Sunday magazine that enlisted “indigenous methods” of enhancing agricultural productivity. Similarly, an old interview has been dusted to claim that way back in 1993, the sadhvi had said Muslims were an inseparable part of the country and she was against inflicting any sort of hardship on them.

In a booklet titled Meri Didi (My Sister), her supporters have tried to hold up Bharti’s “other side”. It says she travelled to 55 countries, earning adulation in many as a religious preacher, read Marx, Lenin, Mao, Rama Tirath, Vivekananda, Gandhi, Tagore, Gorky, Tolstoy and all other major thinkers and writers of 20th century.

Bharti is presented as a woman of exceptional intellect, intelligence and memory. At five, she memorised the entire Gita and Ramayana; by the time she reached Class VIII, teachers and well-wishers decided that formal education was not needed as the sadhvi had the faculties to learn everything informally.

The vision document, which her associates say is her brainchild, states “the universal keyboard is one area which prevents the expansion of information technology in the country, particularly the Hindi belt”. Bharti said she wanted to assure people that if she came to power, the Madhya Pradesh government would take up the cudgels for standardising the Hindi keyboard and universalising language software.

Bharti’s associates said her seriousness to develop the state as an “information technology hub” could be gauged from the fact that information and technology minister Arun Shourie has vetted the vision document and action plan.

“We must appreciate that the manpower in the state, howsoever talented, is not so well conversant with English that it could act as vendor for outsourcing by foreign companies. But, it has got such a vast and skilful manpower in Hindi that it could rule the world if given the right direction and right opportunities,” said the document on the information technology strategy in Madhya Pradesh.

Bharti has sought to counter the impression that if the BJP comes to power, technology would be the first casualty because her party lacks the vision to tap the potential of infotech. Quoting Shourie, the paper said: “In fact, the brightest period of IT in India is during the years of the NDA government at the Centre. In spite of recession in principal markets, export in Indian IT industry have grown by 24 per cent this year.”

Asked if she would accord any credit to the Digvijay Singh government for promoting information technology, she said: “What credit' This government, in fact, has proved to be the real culprit. It did not pay any attention to the development of software or setting up hardware industries in the state.”

About Microsoft getting its Hindi software made in Madhya Pradesh, she said: “That’s precisely the point. It proves the state has a great potential for development of Hindi software. But for the development of Hindi software of Microsoft, you cannot give credit to the government. It was a purely private initiative. In fact, the state government needs to be castigated for not capturing the initiative.”

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