Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai has announced a Google for India Digitisation Fund through which the company will invest Rs 75,000 crore, or approximately $10 billion, over the next five to seven years to drive digital transformation in the country.
“We’ll do this through a mix of equity investments, partnership investments, and operational, infrastructure and ecosystem investments. This is a reflection of our confidence in the future of India and its digital economy,” Pichai said during the Google for India virtual conference.
The fund will focus on four areas that are important to India’s digitisation.
These include enabling affordable access to the internet and to information for every Indian in their own language and building new products and services that are deeply relevant to India’s unique needs including consumer tech, education, health and agriculture.
The Google for India Digitisation Fund will also focus on empowering businesses especially small and medium businesses as they continue or embark on their digital transformation. Another area of focus will be leveraging technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) for social good, including digital literacy, outbreak predictions, and support for rural economies, Pichai said.
Giving a special address at the event, India’s Union IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad expressed hope that with this new fund, Google will also focus on promoting the country’s startups further.
“There is immense scope for Google to deploy artificial intelligence and undertake new initiatives in the field of agriculture, weather prediction, healthcare in the wake of Covid-19 challenges and most importantly in digital education,” Prasad said. “Today, India’s app economy is growing very powerfully, but we must not just download apps. It is important also to upload apps from India.”
Google also announced new initiatives as part of its ongoing efforts towards the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Now more than ever, to survive and grow, every Indian business must be a digital business. And we are investing in helping Indian businesses go digital and helping Indian workers learn, grow and find better jobs,” said Caesar Sengupta, GM & VP of Payments and Next Billion Users, Google.
He announced a new initiative with Prasar Bharati, launching an edutainment series on Doordarshan on how small businesses can adopt digital tools and adapt to the current situation, using examples of real life Indian businesses.
Google Pay Nearby Stores Spot was introduced in March to improve offline merchant discoverability and to help people find shops near them to see what essential food items are in stock. Job Spot on Google Pay allows for remote interviews and remote work listings to help secure employment during the pandemic.
Google also announced a partnership with CBSE to train over one million teachers in 22,000 schools across India by the end of 2020 in online learning tools.
“Google’s efforts to bring technology and thereby, knowledge and learning to students in every part of the country is commendable,” Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, Union Human Resources Development Minister, said while speaking at the event.