Optimism For India’s Digital Future

It’s always special to come back to India, and this trip is especially meaningful as it’s my first visit back since the pandemic. As we come out of it, there’s a sense of optimism about the country’s future and the role technology can play to improve lives.

Which brings me to why I’m here: first and foremost to meet with Googlers, as the team has grown significantly since I was last here. I’m also here to see progress being made from our $10 billion, 10-year India Digitization Fund (IDF), and share new ways we’re helping to advance India’s digital future at our Google for India event. That includes our efforts to build a single, unified AI model that will be capable of handling over 100 Indian languages across speech and text – part of our global effort to bring the world’s 1,000 most-spoken languages online, and to help people access knowledge and information in their preferred language. We’re also supporting a new, multidisciplinary center for responsible AI with IIT Madras. (Our VP of India Sanjay Gupta shares more details in his blog post below.)

This progress is part of how we’re working to seize the opportunity in AI globally, balancing the need to be bold with innovation and responsible in our approach. I’m excited to see the ways India will contribute to breakthroughs in AI that could benefit over a billion people in India, and more around the world.

More broadly, I’ve been amazed at the ways people are already using technology to make their communities better. One of the local tech founders I met today has broken new ground by offering a radiation-free and non-invasive breast cancer screening tool; another developed a chatbot that helps people manage stress. I was glad to hear their stories and to share thoughts on how technology can expand opportunity during a conversation at WomenWill.

Later today, I have the honor of meeting with His Excellency Prime Minister Modi to discuss how we are supporting small businesses and start-ups, investing in cybersecurity, providing education and skills training, applying AI in sectors like agriculture and healthcare, and other priorities. Prime Minister Modi’s Digital India vision has helped to accelerate the progress we’re seeing across India, and I’m excited for India to share its experience with the world as it takes over the G20 presidency in 2023.

The pace of technological change in India has been extraordinary, and there’s so much opportunity still ahead. Glad to be able to see it up close, and I’m already looking forward to my next visit.

(Sundar is the CEO of Google and Alphabet and serves on Alphabet’s Board of Directors. Under his leadership, Google has been focused on developing products and services, powered by the latest advances in AI, that offer help in moments big and small.)

Below is an edited version of a blog from Sanjay Gupta, Google’s Country Head and Vice President, India, summarizing the key announcements from Google for India.

India’s digital transformation is at a tipping point. Seven hundred million connected Indians, affordable smartphones and data, record highs in digital payments, the digitization of citizen services, and a vibrant start-up ecosystem have put the technology sector on track to become the single largest contributor to the national economy.

We feel privileged to have played a part in this extraordinary story. Our mission in India is to make the internet helpful and safer for a billion Indians. We’ve introduced India-first innovations, worked to lower barriers to access, and invested in strengthening the strategic pillars of India’s digital economy through our $10 billion India Digitization Fund.

Today, at our 8th Google for India, joined by Sundar Pichai, our CEO, and senior Google leaders and product experts, we stepped up our commitment to build a more inclusive, helpful, and safer internet for every Indian — and shared how we hope to supercharge India’s digital transformation by harnessing AI.

Partnerships are the cornerstone of our journey in India, and essential for such a scaled transition. Today, with partners from across the public and private sectors, we announced new efforts focused on taking Indians from foundational access to the point where technology becomes the enabler for growth, knowledge, health and progress.

Early stage startups are the engine that drives innovation, with many building products that address key information and service needs for people across India, especially for novice internet users. Strengthening our ongoing resolve to support India’s digital innovators, as part of our India Digitization Fund investments, we will be targeting support for early stage companies with a particular focus on women-led startups. (Courtesy: https://blog.google/inside-google/message-ceo/optimism-india-digital-future/)

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