Google to spend $75 mn on women-led India start-ups: Pichai

Confident of India’s emergence as a big export economy, Sundar Pichai, making his first trip to the country post pandemic, formalised initiatives across diverse areas
Google CEO Sundar Pichai with Union IT and Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw
Google CEO Sundar Pichai with Union IT and Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw

NEW DELHI: Google is building voice and text search for over 100 Indian languages and will spend $75 million to support women-led startups in the country, said its CEO Sundar Pichai at the start of his visit to India - a nation that he saw as a big export economy.

While speaking at the Google for India event here on Monday, Pichai said the company is focussing on start-ups from India and out of its $300 million for the startups, around one-fourth will be invested in entities that are led by women.

India, he said, will be a big export economy and it needs to create a balance between safeguarding citizens and enabling companies to innovate with its framework.

He said the technology is working at a big scale and touching the lives of people around the world, which calls for framing responsible and balanced regulation.

“Given the scale and technology leadership it (India) will have, it’s important to make sure you are balancing, putting in safeguards for people. You’re creating an innovative framework, so that companies can innovate on top of a certainty in the legal framework. I think it is an important moment in time. India will also be a big export economy. It will benefit from an open and connected internet and getting that balance right will be important,” Pichai said.

He said the sophistication of the Indian start-up ecosystem is measurably improving and Indian start-ups like Glance are getting noticed worldwide.

‘Google Search hits highest-ever traffic in 25 yrs as Messi dazzled’

Pichai said Google Search logged its highest-ever traffic in 25 years of its existence during the nail-biting FIFA World Cup final.

Lionel Messi’s dream of winning the FIFA World Cup finally materialised on Sunday, with Argentina surviving a few anxious moments to register a fighting 4-2 penalty shoot-out win over defending champions France.”Search recorded its highest ever traffic in 25 years during the final of #FIFAWorldCup , it was like the entire world was searching about one thing,” tweeted Pichai.

He earlier said it was one of the greatest games ever.

“Well played Argentina and France. Jogo Bonito. Nobody deserves it more than #messi, imho the greatest ever to play the game. What a swansong,” posted Pichai.

Google Search was founded in 1998 by Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

With a more than 90 per cent market share in 2022, Google Search currently dominates the market.

Lex Fridma, host of Lex Fridman Podcast and research scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US, replied to Pichai: “Over a billion people tuned in, united by their love of the game. That’s the best thing about football: it’s a truly global game that unites us.”

“Google did deliver in terms of reliable real-time updates,” another Pichai follower posted.

Create regulatory frameworks to enable innovation

As India refines its personal data protection (PDP) bill, along with other bills that cater to the digital era, Pichai said it is important for the government to create regulatory frameworks that help companies innovate on top of those local laws of the land. Stressing that the country is going through a key period of time during digital transformation, Pichai vouched for an open and connected internet.

“India has a leadership role to play here. It’s important to make sure you’re balancing the safeguards you’re putting for people and creating innovative frameworks so that companies can innovate on top of certainty in the legal framework,” he said in the presence of IT and Telecom minister Ashwini Vaishnaw.

Vaishnaw said the government is working on a range of bills that will safeguard users’ data and create a robust legal regulatory framework around the new internet economy.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given us a clear target of creating a comprehensive legal regulatory framework. First we have the telecom bill that is for the telecom carriers. Second is the digital protection bill, which is focused around enforcing citizens’ privacy rights. The ‘Digital India’ bill will look at practically everything else that is required to be seen,” said the Minister.

The government aims to make these bills go live, starting next year.

Pichai said that if you look at the scale at which tech is working and touching so many lives around the world, “to me it makes sense that tech needs responsible regulation”.

“I think it’s important for countries to think about how to best safeguard their citizens. We are engaging constructively,” he told the audience.

“It is easy to build something which scales across the entire country and this is the opportunity that India has. There’s no better time to do a startup, even though we are working through a macro-economic situation right now,” the Google CEO mentioned.

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