Each year, while Bill Gates parties at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Richard M Stallman makes a trip to Porto Alegre. Stallman takes part in discussions on alternatives to globalization, US-style, at the World Social Forum. His travel choice appears to be paying off.
Last week Indian President Dr Abdul Kalam called for a halt to the "devastating" impact of proprietary software. He revealed that he had what he called "differences" with the Microsoft founder when the two met last November.
"The most unfortunate thing is that India still seems to believe in proprietary solutions," said President Kalam.
"Further spread of IT, which is influencing the daily life of individuals, will have a devastating effect on the lives of society due to any small shift in the business practice involving these proprietary solutions. It is precisely for these reasons open source software needs to be built which will be cost effective for the entire society."
""It is precisely for these reasons open source software need to be built which would be cost effective for the entire society. In India, open source code software will have to come and stay in a big way for the benefit of our billion people."
Kalam led India's missile program and was elected President by India's national MPs and state assemblies last July.
Reflecting on the reaction to India's missile technology innovations, Kalam has remarked, "It is really amusing that the Americans think that it is only with their technology that India can succeed."
Not for the first time, Gates was following in Stallman's footsteps. Both visited India last Fall.
In November, Microsoft pledged $400 million of investment in the world's largest democracy, including an education scheme that involves Microsoft software, a move criticized by the Free Software Foundation Of India.
In response to some skeptical questioning from the Indian press about the investments, Gates had this to say:-
"It is only because of Microsoft's approach that the computer industry has become a worldwide industry."
And he probably believes it, too. In Bill's model of globalization, he is the world. ®
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