Digital dividend

Support of tech giants like Google can benefit India

Digital dividend

Google chief executive Sundar Pichai. File photo

Days after PM Narendra Modi rolled out the red carpet for global investors and clarified that Atmanirbhar Bharat was not about being closed to the world, Google chief executive Sundar Pichai has announced plans to invest Rs 75,000 crore in India over the next five to seven years to help expedite the adoption of digital technologies. During their virtual interaction on Monday, both were on the same page regarding the transformative power of technology. It’s noteworthy that the Google for India Digitisation Fund comes at a time when the country is facing the onslaught of Covid-19 and struggling to put its economy back on track. The tech giant’s move is an affirmation of India’s potential to play a key role in the post-pandemic world order.

The country’s digital drive has gathered momentum amid the restrictions imposed to contain the spread of the virus. The lockdown has spurred online payments, with more and more people going the relatively safe e-way to avail of goods and services — right from groceries to clothes and electronic items. The cashless, phone-activated mode, which rules out any contact with currency notes, has even caught the fancy of roadside vendors. The welcome trend has continued during the unlocking phase.

Google’s initiative to digitally empower India in fields such as healthcare, education and agriculture can encourage other major companies to follow suit. The Indian connection may come in handy here. According to a top US-based Indian diaspora organisation, a group of 50-odd Indian-origin executives — heading companies in the US, Canada, Singapore and other countries — together employ more than 36 lakh people and account for $1 trillion in revenue. The Indiaspora Business Leaders’ List is topped by Pichai, followed by Satya Nadella (Microsoft) and Arvind Krishna (IBM). Digital India, the NDA government’s flagship programme that has completed five years, still has a long way to go as far as bridging the digital divide is concerned. Creating a favourable environment for Google and other international heavyweights to make their presence felt should be the way forward.

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