July 13, 2020, marked an important day for the digital economy of our country when tech paramount, Google announced a $10 billion digitization fund for India. Sundar Pichai, Google’s India-born CEO, interacted with PM Modi over a video chat where they also discussed leveraging the power of tech to transform the lives of our youth, farmers, and entrepreneurs.
Aims of the Google for India Digitization Fund
- Making the internet affordable for people in their own language.
- Developing products and services which cater to the needs of Indians.
- Help in the digital transformation of businesses.
- Harnessing the benefits of technology and AI for social good in sectors like agriculture, education, and health.
It is worth noting that Google has already invested $4.5 billion in Reliance Jio for a 7.73 % stake marking the first investment from the fund. They have also partnered to develop a customized android-based OS for Jio users.
How the fund will be deployed?
In the next 5-7 years through a combination of equity investments, partnerships, investment in infrastructure to support the Digital India initiative.
Significance of the fund
China’s hostility towards western companies (especially tech giants) is very well known. Indian market being the largest open market provides an attractive opportunity to those looking for expansion.
With 500 million-plus internet users (increasing every day) and one of the youngest workforce, it is highly expected India to lead the next wave of innovations. This fund can be seen as Google’s attempt to consolidate its position in India’s digital ecosystem in a time when other giants like Facebook ($5.7 billion deal with Jio) and Amazon (an additional $1 billion investment in the coming year) also look highly of India’s digital future.
Keeping in mind the recent crackdown on Chinese apps and an urge to develop and manufacture in India, the timing of the fund aimed to encourage Indian developers couldn’t be more right, although its planning was started much earlier than the above decision was taken.
As quoted by Mr. Pichai, ‘Artificial Intelligence’ can make it very interesting for Google and it is looking for companies that can scale up quickly.
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