Since the lockdown has started due to the pandemic, people are working from home and relying heavily on internet from sending an email or to do coding online. Internet consumption has increase massively as it has become the key medium for entertainment as well. People are playing multiple online games as outdoor games seems a distant dream for the moment. There are thousands of content in OTT platforms and people are hooked into them as movie theatres are also closed. Many small businesses have moved their business online due to the shut of shops, many individuals switched to online payments in order to avoid going to banks.
There has already been few initiates and plans for the Digital India movement for some time now. And lately, the digital space is making headline everyday in India, be it either launching new app or products or services or fresh investment from foreign investors/ tech giants in established Indian tech companies and start-ups. These show the confidence of tech companies in the future of Digital India. To push the digital space in India, Google has been working on quite a few initiates. Now recently Sundar Pichai, the Chief Executive Officer of Google announced in his blog to invest 75,000 crores INR in India over the next 5-7 years. He said the investment will be made through a mix of equities, partnerships and operational, infrastructure and ecosystem investments (https://bit.ly/3h2EbMe).
The upcoming products and services will be affordable in order to reach to as many people as possible. The diversity of India is so unique and is also the key focus of Google, hence the new products/ services will be in Indian language. The investment would also be on artificial intelligence in the field of health, education, and agriculture. Google has already taken few initiatives such as Internet Sathi – a rural awareness program, Read Along – an artificial intelligence powered tutor app, etc.
Shortly after announcing to invest 75,000 crores INR in India, the first major leap Google has taken is by investing a staggering amount of 33,737 crores INR in Reliance Jio platforms. Google wishes to provide affordable internet access to every individual, which Jio has also managed to do in India with its low-cost data plans ensuring that 4G mobile networks can reach millions of people, even to those living in rural pockets of the country. In the recent times Reliance is making quite a few headlines as many tech giants from the USA, Middle East and other parts of the world are making mind boggling investments on Jio platforms, the biggest one was from Facebook which has invested approx. 43,573 crores INR. With Google coming on board, Reliance has completed its target of capital raising for Jio platforms, said RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani (https://bit.ly/2ZKRFqh). Reliance Jio has already developed an indigenous 5G mobile network technology which will be in trial, when the country makes the 5G spectrum available. Google and Reliance Jio will jointly develop an operating system for an entry-level smartphone that will support 5G and target India’s 350 million feature-phone users.
Google is already a household name in India and people rely heavily on Google Search Engine for browsing and Google Maps is also the most used navigation app. Today, 26 million small medium businesses are now discoverable on Search and Maps, driving connections with more than 150 million users every month (https://bit.ly/3fRABVb). Google also announced to launch an edutainment series on Doordarshan on how small businesses can adopt digital tools and adapt to the current situation, using real life examples of Indian businesses.
YouTube is the most popular platform in India to access videos online. Many small businesses, bloggers, artists, individuals of different talents be it chef or yoga expert also have thousands of subscribers, reach out to thousands of people onto their smartphone even in the remote areas on via YouTube.
Besides all these, one of the popular apps from Google is Google Pay which has also made payment simple be it paying to your peers or paying utilities bills. It is also being used to pay fees by many people now to tutors, doctors, maids or to pay for services to plumbers, electrician, etc. It has been instrumental in digitization of hassle free payment method for small businesses such as grocery stores to even petrol pump specially during the pandemic as it a simple way to pay contactless. During the nationwide lockdown due to pandemic many people have lost their jobs or had to accept pay cuts. And to support people who are looking for work, Google Pay also introduced Job Spot which allows for remote interviews and remote work listings so that people who are unemployed can secure employment and income more quickly.
Google also announced a partnership with the CBSE to train over one million teachers in 22,000 schools across India by this year-end, on online learning, using free tools like G-Suite for Education, Google Classroom, YouTube and more. It also announced a grant of $1 million to Kaivalya Education Foundation as part of the Global Distance Learning Fund. Using these funds, Kaivalya Education Foundation will work with the Central Square Foundation and TeacherApp to train seven lakh teachers to deliver virtual education for students so that they can continue learning at home over TV and radio, where smartphones or Internet access are not available (https://bit.ly/2WAn3FJ).
Internet is being used in every sector be it education, agriculture, weather prediction, healthcare, finance, etc. and to invest in technology which focuses on providing affordable internet and artificial intelligence is the right call for the times to come. India is a nation of close to 1.4 billion people with so many languages and most of the people living in the remote areas where accessibility is a challenge. Therefore, by overcoming these challenges and building tech products and services in for India will eventually help the world to get these products/ services which would enable various solutions at an affordable price.
With so many tech giants around the world investing in India, supporting Indian tech companies, backing start-ups, and entrepreneurs to develop advanced and futuristic tech products is certainly a great sign for India’s digital economy. Though there are still many miles to cover, but the future of Digital India looks promising.