Google CEO Sundar Pichai announces a $10B ‘Google for India Digitisation Fund’
To realise the dream of making India digital, Google CEO Sundar Pichai has announced a $10 billion fund that will focus purely on India.
"Through this effort, we will invest Rs 75,000 crore, or approximately $10 billion, into India over the next five-to-sevenyears. We’ll do this through a mix of equity investments, partnerships, and operational, infrastructure, and ecosystem investments. This is a reflection of our confidence in the future of India and its digital economy," said Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, in his blog.
This will be done through ‘Google for India Digitization Fund’.
He added that India’s 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."
Google CEO Sundar Pichai
Google has over the years invested in India through its growth equity investment fund CapitalG.
The investment from this fund will focus on four areas important to India’s digitisation:
● Enabling affordable access and information for every Indian in their own language, whether it’s Hindi, Tamil, Punjabi or any other.
● Building new products and services that are deeply relevant to India’s unique needs.
● Empowering businesses as they continue or embark on their digital transformation.
● Leveraging technology and AI for social good, in areas like health, education, and agriculture
"As we make these investments, we look forward to working alongside Prime Minister Modi and the Indian government, as well as Indian businesses of all sizes to realise our shared vision for a Digital India," Sundar said.
Sundar also said in his address that the dual challenges to our health and our economies have forced us to rethink how we work and how we live. He believes that these challenging times can lead to incredible moments of innovation.
"Our goal is to ensure India not only benefits from the next wave of innovation, but leads it. Working together we can ensure that our best days are still ahead," Sundar said.
Why does Google want to bet on India's digital journey?
Since 2004, Google says their focus was on getting helpful and relevant information to Indian users through Search, whether they were searching for their favourite Bollywood star or cricket scores.
From there, the company spread awareness of the internet in rural villages through programmes like Internet Saathi. The search engine giant says it has helped more than 30 million women across India gain digital skills to improve their lives and their communities.
Giving an example of GPay, a contactless or online payment service, Sundar said,
"Together with the rise in BHIM-UPI adoption, GPay makes it easy to pay the rickshawala, or send money to family back home. India is setting the global standard on how to digitise payments, and it’s now helping us build a global product."
Google's AI-powered reading tutor app Bolo, now called Read Along, is another example of a technology built specifically for Indian users. Last year Sundar visited with students in Mumbai who were using the app to learn to read.
Google is also helping India use Artificial Intelligence. Its AI Flood Forecasting System was designed to keep people safe during India’s monsoon season. "I’ll never forget how the 2015 floods in Chennai impacted so many families. I’m hopeful that this technology will bring greater peace of mind to the hundreds of millions of people affected by floods each year around the world," Sundar said.