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August 27, 1998


Narasimha Rao wows all

Priya Ganapati at Pragati Maidan

Email this story to a friend. Back to IIW coverage index. Move over, Chandrababu Naidu, India's first famous technophile is on the prowl again.

Former prime minister Narasimha Rao, arrived sharp at 11 am today, at the India Internet World exhibition, carefully clad in a cream silk dhoti kurta and an angavastram.

Rao is apparently a keen surfer and has over four PCs back home. He surfs regularly and, like others, grumbled about the time taken to dial up.

"There is a need for better infrastructure. When I dial up, I can never manage to log in easily," he said.

Security was beefed up in the area before his arrival. The exhibition area was cordoned off and nobody -- not visitors, not even the speakers -- was allowed to enter the area. The conference halls were isolated and everyone had to pass through a metal detector before entering the premises.

But Rao himself tried to keep a low profile though it was a mite difficult with security officers from the Delhi police and the Special Protection Group surrounding him.

Rao's visit surprised everyone. In fact, the exhibitors were told of his visit just half-an-hour before he actually arrived.

Apparently, Rao had evinced a keen interest in attending the exhibition. In deference to the demands of protocol, he rang up the Indian Trade Promotion Council under whose aegis the conferences and exhibitions at Pragati maidan are conducted. The organisation conveyed his desire to visit the exhibition to the organisers at Microland.

Accompanied by Pradeep Kar, Chairman and Director, Microland, Rao visited nearly all the stalls at the exhibition, prominent among them being those of HP, Microsoft and Wipro.

At the Microsoft stall, Rao was told about the new cyber mall at Connaught place created by Microsoft. And Rao's quick response was, "When can I buy the products online."

Rao was mainly interested in ways to the Internet could be used to help the rural masses and to get the technology to help the common man. He was told about ways of educating the masses, of set top boxes and cable modems... And he agreed that cable modems could make technology available a little more cheaply.

At the Wipro stall too he asked question relating to the use of computers in rural areas. He felt that if the content was made available in local languages, usage would pick up.

"He is a very knowledgeable person. He knows what is important and what the priorities are now," said Anand Talwai, chief executive, communication and services, Wipro.

At the HP stall, Rao watched demonstrations of various products. He looked particularly pleased when told that all the products had been developed by Indians.

Back to IIW coverage index. But if his visit inspired some volunteers, some of the other visitors did not even know of his coming -- and going.

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