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Google To Invest $10 Bln In India-Update

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced Monday a $10 billion Google for India Digitization Fund to help accelerate India's digital economy. The investment is planned over the next five to seven years through equity investments, partnerships, and operational, infrastructure and ecosystem investments.

"Our goal is to ensure India not only benefits from the next wave of innovation, but leads it," Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, said in a virtual keynote address at a Google for India event.

Google plans four areas of investment : 1) provide access and information to people in their own language 2) building new products and services customized for India 3) Help business in their digital transformation 4) Leveraging technology and Artificial Intelligence for social good and in areas like health, education and agriculture.

Pichai says, "Low-cost smartphones combined with affordable data, and a world-class telecom infrastructure, have paved the way for new opportunities." 26 million SMBs are now discoverable on Search and Maps, driving connections with more than 150 million users every month. This is a huge change from only one-third of all small businesses in India having an online presence just four year ago, he added.

Since 2004, when the opened its first offices in Hyderabad and Bangalore, it has made investments in many Indian businesses through Google, as well as its growth equity investment fund CapitalG.

Google's initial focus in India was on getting helpful and relevant information to Indian users through Search. It then spread awareness of the Internet in rural villages through programs like Internet Saathi, helping more than 30 million women across India gain digital skills.

GPay was another introduction that is a fast, simple way to pay contactless or online.

Google's AI-powered reading tutor app Bolo, now called Read Along, is another example of a technology built specifically for Indian users. . It also designed a AI-based flood forecasting system to keep people safe during India's monsoon season.

The investment announcement from Google comes at a time when the Indian Government is going hammer and tongs after apps developed by Chinese companies, by banning 59 apps and services that had a popular following in the country. The lack of strong Chinese competition may also help Google gain further foothold in India.

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