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ImageAmerican culture has a long tradition of philanthropy, as evidenced by the millions of dollars donated by individuals, who are not always very rich to universities in the country. Gates represents the height of such tradition.

Admirable indeed is the decision of Bill Gates and Melinda Gates to put most of their wealth (nearly $29 billion) into the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that has contributed nearly $287 million in one year towards AIDS control alone. Recently, Warren Buffet too has joined them, donating billions of dollars.

In the traditional Hindu way of living, one is expected to spend 25 years in childhood and learning (brahmacharya), 25 years in married life (grahastha), 25 years in social service (vanaprastha) and 25 years in renunciation (sanyas). Vanaprastha is interesting -- one is active yet does not work for him/her family but for the society as whole.

Gates' announcement of leaving his active role in Microsoft was made when he was exactly 50. He is also quoted as saying the whole thing about which operating system somebody uses is a pretty silly thing versus issues involving starvation and death.

Windows may not be the dominant operating system for ever. Its creator Gates may not even spend time worrying about the future releases of this product.

Yet, the man who created the product Windows, the company Microsoft and the PC industry created by Gates and Microsoft will leave an indelible footprint in the history of computing. By strategically morphing from software mogul to a super-efficient philanthropist, Gates is likely to scale new heights in his new avatar and leave an even deeper footprint in the annals of human history.

His new role in the next 30 years is only likely to be more significant than the three decades he spent in the making of Microsoft.

Courtesy: Times of India (Writer is Prof S Sadagopan, Director IIIT-B)