Tuesday, March 9, 2021

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai announces $10 B investment in India

Alphabet, Google CEO Sundar Pichai has announced that his company – Google will invest a whopping $10 billion into developing infrastructure and funding digital innovation in India over the next five to seven years.

CEO Pichai was speaking at the sixth edition of Google for India conducted in collaboration with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, where various steps to be initiated by the tech giant such as expanding the scope of digital payments using Google Pay and developing low-cost smartphones to transition feature phone users into smartphone users were also announced.

Before Sundar Pichai made the investment announcement, the Google CEO also had a video-conference with Indian PM Narendra Modi to discuss Google’s ideas for India’s digital future.

“This morning, had an extremely fruitful interaction with @sundarpichai,” PM Modi tweeted. “We spoke on a wide range of subjects, particularly leveraging the power of technology to transform the lives of India’s farmers, youngsters and entrepreneurs.”

PM Modi added that the two had also discussed “the new work culture that is emerging in the times of Covid-19”. “We discussed the challenges the global pandemic has brought to areas such as sports. We also talked about the importance of data security and cyber safety,” PM Modi said on Twitter.

“I was delighted to know more about the efforts of @Google in several sectors, be it in education, learning, @_DigitalIndia, furthering digital payments and more,” he added.

Digital India has been one of the flagship schemes of the Central government. The Indian tech space further moved towards a ‘Make in India’ approach last month after the PM announced the ‘Atmanirbhar app challenge’.

“The Google for India digitization fund will invest $10 billion over the next 5-7 years in terms of equity, partnerships, operations and infrastructure development,” Pichai said on Monday. “This is a reflection of our confidence in the future of India and its digital economy. We will work towards enabling affordable internet access to every Indian in their own language.”

Sundar Pichai added that special attention would be paid to developing products and services relevant to India, empowering small business, and leveraging technology and artificial intelligence for areas like health and agriculture.

“We look forward to working with PM Modi and hope India will lead the next wave innovation,” Pichai said. Investments will focus on four key areas of India’s digitisation, he said. This includes, 1) enabling affordable access and information to every Indian in their own language, 2) building new products and services relevant to India’s unique needs, 3) empowering businesses as they continue to embark in digital transformation, and 4) leveraging technology and Artificial Intelligence for social good in areas like healthcare, education and agriculture.

Union Minister for Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad added that the digital transformation of India has especially focused on ‘digital inclusion’. “India’s app economy growing very powerfully and it is important not just to download but to upload apps as well,” said Prasad.

“We are working towards developing one lakh digital villages across India and I would appreciate it if Google could pick a cluster of these villages and make them model villages in terms of skilling and delivery of telemedicine,” Prasad added.

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