Google for India is the annual event where many company executives, including Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, take the stage to announce what’s next for Google in the country. This year’s digital event was a little different and focused more on education — a sector that has been badly hit as a result of recent lockdowns — in addition to small businesses. The biggest takeaway from today’s event was the $10 billion investment parent company Alphabet is committed to the development of its Indian business.
In a virtual address, Pichai — who was born and raised in Madurai before moving to the US to attend Stanford University — announced that Google India would be getting ₹75,000 crore (roughly US$10 billion) over the next 5-7 years as part of its newly set up Google for India Digitization Fund. This investment will broadly focus on making affordable services accessible in various local languages, developing products addressing India’s unique needs, digitizing small businesses, and using technology and AI for social good.
Google has partnered with India’s central education board (CBSE) to train over a million teachers from thousands of schools to digitize the learning experience for children who’ve been missing their classes ever since lockdown restrictions were imposed. This includes familiarizing them with tools like G Suite for Education, Google Classroom, and Google Meet. As for the millions of families without a smartphone or an internet connection, Google will try to reach these students through TV and radio broadcasts.
Similarly, the search giant is also working with state broadcaster Prasar Bharati to televise an edutainment series to help small businesses establish their online presence and use digital tools to reach more customers during these challenging times. Google appears to be working closely with government bodies to further its reach in India; today’s Google for India event was attended by two ministers, while Pichai earlier had a one-to-one meeting with the Indian prime minister Narendra Modi.