A new Rs 75,000-crore fund has been announced by Google to help accelerate India's digital economy, its Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai said today, asserting that "we are proud to support" Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision.
Marking one of its biggest commitments to a growth market, the tech giant said the fund would be used over the next five to seven years through equity investments and tie-ups.
"Today at #GoogleForIndia we announced a new $10B digitization fund to help accelerate India's digital economy. We're proud to support PM @narendramodi's vision for Digital India - many thanks to Minister @rsprasad & Minister @DrRPNishank for joining us," Mr Pichai, the 48-year-old Indian-American Google CEO, wrote in a tweet.
Today at #GoogleForIndia we announced a new $10B digitization fund to help accelerate India's digital economy. We're proud to support PM @narendramodi's vision for Digital India - many thanks to Minister @rsprasad & Minister @DrRPNishank for joining us. https://t.co/H0EUFYSD1q— Sundar Pichai (@sundarpichai) July 13, 2020
"This is a reflection of our confidence in the future of India and its digital economy," Mr Pichai said on a webcast during the annual 'Google for India' event.
"Investments will focus on four areas important to India's digitization," Google said in a statement.
"First, enabling affordable access and information for every Indian in their own language, whether it's Hindi, Tamil, Punjabi or any other. Second, building new products and services that are deeply relevant to India's unique needs. Third, empowering businesses as they continue or embark on their digital transformation. Fourth, leveraging technology and AI for social good, in areas like health, education, and agriculture," it said.
Just four years ago, only one-third of all small businesses in India had an online presence. Today, 26 million "SMBs (small and midsize businesses) are now discoverable on Search and Maps, driving connections with more than 150 million users every month," according to the statement.
"Our goal is to ensure India not only benefits from the next wave of innovation, but leads it," it read.
Earlier today, PM Modi tweeted he had "an extremely fruitful interaction" with Mr 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," the Prime Minister tweeted.
This morning, had an extremely fruitful interaction with @sundarpichai. 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. pic.twitter.com/IS9W24zZxs— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 13, 2020
In another post, PM Modi wrote: "During our interaction, @sundarpichai and I spoke about the new work culture that is emerging in the times of COVID-19. We discussed the challenges the global pandemic has brought to areas such as sports. We also talked about the importance of data security and cyber safety."
A statement from his office said that during the interaction, the Prime Minister "remarked that India is amongst the most open economies in the world".
The Prime Minister "discussed the issue of data security and concerns around privacy," adding that "tech companies need to put in efforts to bridge the trust deficit".