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Microsoft seeks to boost philanthropy in India

NEW DELHI (AP) – Microsoft Corp. will distribute free software to nonprofit groups to boost charity in India, a company official said Monday.

The software donation will be routed through a technology assistance program that India’s NASSCOM Foundation is offering in partnership with TechSoup, a San Francisco-based group that partners in charity work with companies like Microsoft, Cisco Systems and Symantec.

NASSCOM Foundation, the philanthropy arm of the trade body of technology companies operating in India, introduced the program Monday – titled BiG Tech.

BiG Tech is a Web-based program that allows nonprofits to apply for free software online. The foundation will charge a fee of up to 4 percent to the nonprofit groups.

Nearly 35,000 nonprofit groups in India will be eligible for such software donations.

Microsoft sees BiG Tech as another opportunity to push its India strategy that has often tied business moves with philanthropy.

”We think it is going to make a big impact in India,” said Neelam Dhawan, managing director at Microsoft India.

Microsoft is a major donor for TechSoup, which runs or partners similar technology assistance programs across 25 countries outside the United States.

In the fiscal year 2008, TechSoup aims to distribute US$55 million (euro40.4 million) worth of software. The group sees ”an extraordinary opportunity in India,” said Mike Yeaton, its global director.

Yeaton said the BiG Tech program also offers an opportunity for Indian technology companies to channel their charity through TechSoup to countries in other parts of the world.

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