Young Microsoft director harbours high hopes for IT

March 4th, 2008 - 5:50 pm ICT by admin  

By Shyam Pandharipande
Nagpur, March 4 (IANS) The next twenty years will be revolutionary in IT history and what lies ahead for humanity should be best left to the wonderful ingenuity of mankind, says Rajesh Munshi, one of the youngest directors at Microsoft Corp, on a visit to his hometown here. A key driver in the world’s biggest IT company, Munshi has absolutely no doubt that Bill Gates’ vision of personal computers sans keyboards, like his many marvellous dreams, would come true in the foreseeable future “when my generation, in its thirties, is still young”.

“While everyone knows we’ll soon have hand-held computers the size of a biscuit, no one should be really surprised if computers that take oral commands and convert spoken word into written script become a reality,” the 35-year-old director of Windows Server division of Microsoft told IANS.

Bill Gates’ dream of a PC in every home “scarce seems a vision”, Rajesh says, echoing the immortal lines in Shelly’s “Ode to West Wind”, as he also talks about the $45-billion Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s multiple community service drives directed towards ending hunger and thirst in every home before that.

In Nagpur, his and his wife Prachi’s hometown in Maharashtra, Rajesh is keen to tell IANS about the IT company people’s “giving campaign” but plays down the Asia Pacific-Leadership Award 2006 that he received.

“Rajesh, who was in a pivotal position in the earlier releases of Windows 2000 and Windows Vista software, got the award for his lead role in the release of the Windows XP version,” his father-in-law Pramod Bhalerao told IANS.

Joining Microsoft as a software developer in 1995 after doing Master of Science from New York, the IT graduate from Pilani’s Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) rose to the position of director in a short span of 12 years.

“Yeah, you can say, my growth was a bit faster but that’s thanks to the freedom and encouragement I got and thanks also to my colleagues,” Rajesh said, talking in laudatory terms about the company that boasts of a 70,000 strong workforce including nearly 10,000 Indians.

“Indians are respected for their brilliance and hard work apart from their better communication skills but the Chinese, who too are in big numbers in the US IT industry, are equally good,” Rajesh said.

“It’s a truly open society that offers great opportunities and unfettered work freedom and it is for this more than for the fabulous pay packets and rich quality of life that so many Indians are in the US,” Rajesh said.

The same Indian IT professionals in the US, including those owning small and big IT companies in the Silicon Valley, are now looking at the current IT boom in India and one could also see a reverse brain drain in the next few years, the Windows Server division director thinks.

But while they are there, they are doing more than just raking in money, Rajesh points out, turning to the “giving campaign” Microsoft personnel conduct in October each year in which Indian professionals participate enthusiastically, giving money to charities of their choice.

“We gave $70 million to various non-profit organisations through the campaign that reflects a strong sense of giving back to the community that Microsoft engenders among its employees,” Rajesh says as his father-in-law rolls out the campaign’s poster sporting his son-in-law’s picture.

Rajesh also leads the activities of the Child Rights and You (CRY) Seattle chapter, the charity’s biggest one in the US with 50 volunteers in Microsoft alone.

“We raised $500,000 in our chapter out of a million dollars CRY raised across the US,” he says.

“It is heart wrenching to see children who don’t get food or clothing, who can’t go to school. I had this strong feeling since my school days and so I joined CRY in 1993, the year I went to US for my MS and have continued to work for the organisation.”

Son of retired water resources engineer Madhukar Munshi and Ranjana, Rajesh saw the plight of the “less fortunate” children in the Indian countryside when he grew up in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal and Akola districts.

“The images of malnourished children in tattered clothes have forever persisted in my mind prodding me to do something about them each day as I go about my work in cosy environs,” he says, holding his 11-month-old daughter Arushi.

His wife Prachi, who works in the internal medicine department of Seattle’s Valley Medical Centre, makes no effort to hide the twinkle in her eyes when her mother Pradnya suggests Rajesh could return to India and set up his own IT company.

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