Google to give ₹75,000-cr push to Digital India
CEO Sundar Pichai announces India Digitisation Fund to speed up Google programmes
Technology giant Google will invest ₹75,000 crore, or around $10 billion, in India over the next five-seven years, said Sundar Pichai, Chief Executive Officer, Google and Alphabet, indicating that the company plans to scale up its India operations and become a key player in the country’s digital ecosystem.
Pichai, who on Monday interacted with Prime Minister Narendra Modi before addressing the sixth edition of ‘Google for India’, the annual event dedicated to its operations in India, said the Google for India Digitisation Fund will be deployed to accelerate Google’s efforts through a mix of equity investments, partnerships, operations, infrastructure and ecosystem investments.
“This is a reflection of our confidence in the future of India and its digital economy,” he said, adding that “building products for India first has helped us build better products for users everywhere.
“...India’s own digital journey is far from complete. There’s still more work to do in order to make the Internet affordable and useful for a billion Indians. From improving voice input and computing for all of India’s languages, to inspiring and supporting a whole new generation of entrepreneurs,” Pichai said.
This fund will focus on areas that are important to India’s digitisation — enabling affordable access to the Internet, information for every Indian in his/her own language, and building new products and services that are relevant to India’s unique needs, including consumer tech, education, health and agriculture. As also, for empowering businesses, particularly small and medium businesses.
Google also announced new measures as part of its efforts towards the pandemic response, including a new initiative with Prasar Bharati to launch an edutainment series on Doordarshan on how small businesses can adopt digital tools and adapt to the current situation, using real life examples of Indian businesses.
Caesar Sengupta, General Manager and Vice-President of Payments and Next Billion Users, Google, said the Spot Platform, introduced in March, has more than two million users.
He said the Job Spot on Google Pay now allows for remote interviews and work listings to enable people secure employment and income more quickly during the pandemic.
Google also announced a partnership with the CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) to train over one million teachers in 22,000 schools across India by this year-end, to deliver blended learning that combines the classroom approach with online learning, using free tools like G-Suite for Education, Google Classroom, YouTube and more.
It also announced a grant of $1 million to Kaivalya Education Foundation (KEF) as part of the Global Distance Learning Fund. Using these funds, the KEF will work with the Central Square Foundation and TeacherApp to train seven lakh teachers to deliver virtual education for students so that they can continue learning at home over TV and radio, where smartphones or Internet access are not available.
During his interaction with the Prime Minister, the issue of data security and concerns around privacy figured prominently. Modi said tech companies need to put in effort to bridge the trust deficit. He also spoke about cyber crimes and threats in the form of cyber attacks. Other areas of discussion included technological solutions to expand the scope of online education, access to technology in native language, use of AR/VR (augmented reality/virtual reality) to give a stadium-like viewing experience in the field of sports, and progress in the area of digital payments.