Internet search giant Google has announced an investment of $10 billion in India through the India Digitisation Fund. India-born, Google CEO, Sundar Pichai made this announcement at the ‘Google for India’ event that was streamed live on Monday.
“Over the years, we’ve invested in many Indian businesses through Google, as well as through our growth equity investment fund CapitalG. Today, I’m excited to announce the Google for India Digitisation Fund. Through this effort, we will invest Rs 75,000 crore, or approximately $10 billion, into India over the next 5-7 years, said Pichai.
Google proposes to do this through a mix of equity investments, partnerships, and operational, infrastructure and ecosystem investments.
The investments will focus on four areas important to India’s digitisation. Firstly, enabling affordable access and information for every Indian in their own language, whether it is Hindi, Tamil, Punjabi or any other. Secondly, building new products and services that are deeply relevant to India’s unique requirements. Thirdly, empowering businesses as they continue or embark on their digital transformation. And, finally, leveraging technology and artificial intelligence (AI) for social good, in areas like health, education and agriculture.
Pichai also said that he looked forward to working alongside Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Indian government, as well as Indian businesses of all sizes to realize the shared vision for a ‘Digital India’.
PM Modi Interacts with Google CEO
Pichai also had an interaction with Prime Minister Modi via video conference. Pichai briefed the prime minister Modi about the efforts being undertaken by Google to help spread awareness and provide reliable information about the COVID-19 pandemic. He said that the nationwide lockdown initiated by the prime minister had laid a very strong foundation for India’s battle against the pandemic.
Prime Minister Modi appreciated the proactive role played by Google in battling misinformation and conveying information about necessary precautions. He also talked about further leveraging technology in providing healthcare services.
He said that Indians were adjusting and adopting technology at a rapid pace. He talked about farmers benefiting from technology and the possible wide-ranging benefits of AI in agriculture. The prime minister explored the idea of virtual labs that could be used by students as well as farmers. Pichai mentioned about the launch of AI research lab in Bengaluru, while also highlighting the benefits of Google’s flood forecasting efforts.
Prime Minister Modi was briefed about Google’s plan for the India Digitisation Fund. He remarked that India was amongst the most open economies in the world. He also spoke about recent steps taken by the government towards reforming agriculture and about the campaign to create new jobs, while also highlighting the importance of re-skilling.
The prime minister discussed the issue of data security and concerns around privacy. He said that tech companies needed to put in efforts to bridge the trust deficit. He also spoke about cybercrimes and threats in the form of cyberattacks. Other areas of discussion included technological solutions to expand the scope of online education, access to technology in the country’s native languages, use of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to give a stadium-like viewing experience in the field of sports and progress in the area of digital payments.