Google to invest $10 billion for India’s digital transformation

Sundar Pichai announces Google for India Digitization Fund after virtual meeting with Narendra Modi.

Search engine giant google is set to invest $10 billion for India’s digital transformation through a Google for India Digitization Fund, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced after a virtual meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Spread over the next five to seven years, the fund will focus on four key areas including enabling affordable internet access to all Indians through their own languages, Google and parent Alphabet’s India-born leader said during the Google for India virtual conference Monday.

“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,” said Pichai.

Modi and Pichai also talked about leveraging the power of technology to transform the lives of India’s farmers, youngsters and entrepreneurs.

The new work culture during the covid crisis and the challenges the global pandemic has brought to areas such as sports also came up during their discussion.

READ: Google CEO says that the industry may increase investments in India (June 27, 2017)

Recounting his interaction with Pichai Modi took to Twitter, writing: “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.”

“During our interaction, @sundarpichai and I spoke about the new work culture that is emerging in the times of covid-19,”  Modi added.

“We discussed the challenges the global pandemic has brought to areas such as sports,” he wrote.”We also talked about the importance of data security and cyber safety.”

Modi said he “was delighted to know more about the efforts of @Google in several sectors, be it in education, learning, @_DigitalIndia, furthering digital payments and more.”

In reply, Pichai tweeted: “Thank you for your time, PM @narendramodi – very optimistic about your vision for Digital India and excited to continue our work towards it.”

Later sharing “our next steps on that journey at #GoogleForIndia, Pichai said building new products and services that are deeply relevant to India’s unique needs including consumer tech, education, health and agriculture would be another key focus of the new fund.

READ: Google to provide Wi-Fi at 400 train stations in India (September 28, 2015)

A third area of focus for  the Google for India Digitization Fund will be empowering businesses especially small and medium businesses as they continue or embark on their digital transformation.

Its fourth 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.

Addressing the event, India’s IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad hoped Google’s new fund 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.

Google also announced new initiatives in response to the covid-19 pandemic and a partnership with India’s Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to train over one million teachers in 22,000 schools across India by the end of 2020.

This would help them deliver blended learning that combines the classroom approach with online learning, using free tools like G Suite for Education, Google Classroom, YouTube and more.

In support of underserved low-income communities will also provide a $1 million grant to Kaivalya Education Foundation (KEF) as part of the Global Distance Learning Fund.

KEF will work with the Central Square Foundation and TeacherApp to train 700,000 teachers to deliver virtual education so that students can continue learning at home over mass media such as TV and radio, wherever smartphones or internet access are not available.

Sharing updates on its work in India since the covid-19 outbreak, Google said it has seen over two billion searches on covid, across different languages on Google platforms in the last two months.

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