Belittling Gates Just to Defend Smriti Irani

Political Analysis and Journalism at its Shameful Worst!

Remember, a Brilliant Software Development Idea Made Gates Drop out of Harvard!

When I was the Deputy Editor of Microsoft Magazine in Singapore almost 20 years ago, I was regularly writing about the application of the company’s products in various industries.

And, of course, about Bill Gates too when needed! And, no, I don’t intend to make this a self-serving blog!

The world knew he was a Harvard dropout. All indolent idiots who hated to study but loved to party and just have fun would gleefully imagine big bucks would come crashing through their roofs one day. Lotus eaters!

One striking response from Mr Gates to a question from a young chap on whether he thought university education was a prerequisite for success still reverberates in my memory.

I had an idea that could not wait, so I had to quit Harvard (in 1974) and concentrate on making it crystallise,” Mr Gates explained while articulating the fact that good, formal education provides the foundation for one’s future offering students exposure to brilliant professors and bright peers.

“If Paul Allen (Microsoft co-founder) and I had waited, someone else would have gone to market with the idea and we would have lost out,” he pointed out. The message was clear – unless there were such compelling, extenuating circumstances the power of education is not to be undermined.

He had been asked similar questions on many occasions, including on visits to Third World countries where the youth only think about money. Some smitten by the lure of easy lucre may have been disappointed with his answers.

There was another company magazine, Windows, which then featured a monthly Q&A with Mr Gates and I had the opportunity to get such interesting messages from him through it.

BASIC and MS-DOS: The idea Mr Gates spoke about was writing BASIC software for the Altair computers that were being introduced.  His decision proved to be a strategic one. BASIC was an instant hit and within a year thereafter came the MS-DOS operating system developed for IBM, unleashing the Microsoft revolution!

I am aghast, however, now that some political analysts and imbecile journalists in India are writing reports about how Gates, Walt Disney and Richard Branson made their billions without university education.

All that nonsense in defence of Smriti Irani’s choice as the Human Resource Development Minister, a portfolio that includes Education! She does not have a degree herself.

It is also to be noted that even the billionaires without any higher education are not scouting for people from the streets to build their companies! Topnotch professionals are behind their successes!

G Joslin Vethakumar


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