Google announces $10 billion fund for digital India


Google CEO Sundar Pichai Monday announced a $10 billion Google for India Digitization Fund to help accelerate India’s digital economy.

The announcement came shortly after Indian prime minister Narendra Modi had a virtual interaction with Pichai.

“Today, I’m excited to announce the Google for India Digitization Fund,” Pichai wrote on the Google Blog.

“Through this effort, we will invest ₹75,000 crore, or approximately $10 billion, into India over the next 5-7 years. 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,” he wrote.

Investments, he wrote, would focus on four areas “important to India’s digitization”: Enabling affordable access and information for every Indian in their own language, building new products and services relevant to India’s unique needs, empowering businesses on their digital transformation, and leveraging technology and AI for social good, in areas like health, education, and agriculture.

“This mission is deeply personal to me,”Pichai wrote on the blog. “Growing up, technology provided a window to a world outside my own. It also brought us closer together as a family. Every evening we were drawn to the television by Doordarshan’s special rendition of “Sare Jahan Se Accha.” I tried to explain this to my colleagues the other day, but I eventually gave up and just showed it to them on YouTube.”

He added: “When I was young, every new piece of technology brought new opportunities to learn and grow. But I always had to wait for it to arrive from someplace else. Today, people in India no longer have to wait for technology to come to you. A whole new generation of technologies are happening in India first.

“It’s been incredible to see the rapid pace of change unfolding over my past few visits. From the excitement of young people using the latest apps and services, to the ways people are using smartphones to improve lives in rural villages, to the more than 2,500 Indian YouTube creators who each have over a million subscribers,” he wrote.

He said the COVID-19 pandemic had “supercharged the adoption of digital tools”.

Modi said in a series of tweets: “This morning, (I) had an extremely fruitful interaction with Sundar Pichai. 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.”