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Last Updated : Jul 13, 2020 08:26 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Here’s why Google for India 2020 stands out

From the celebration of Pichai’s achievement to usage of Hindi at a Google event, Google’s commitment to India remains strong

American tech giants have always loved to celebrate their Indian businesses and every year at least once giants like Amazon, Microsoft and Google showcase all their India centered plans through grand events. Google has been conducting its flagship annual event - Google for India -- since 2015.

It is at these events that they have launched programmes around free Wi-Fi at railway stations, Internet Saathi, Maps, Google Tez which was then rebranded into Google Pay, Bolo again rebranded to Read Along and so many others.

But 2020 has been anything but ordinary, and Google for India this time was also quite different.


Sanjay Gupta, who joined Google in January, started the show instead of Google India’s long time face Rajan Anandan who had moved on to Sequoia last year. Gupta remarked that the fact he is addressing everyone from the confines of his home reflects the reality of current times.

Not only Gupta, Google’s other speakers, Chief Executive Sundar Pichai, Vice President for payments and next billion users Caesar Sengupta and Senior Country Marketing Director for India and South East Asia Sapna Chadha all addressed viewers from their homes. In fact, Chadha put it aptly, “I had never thought I will be doing it at my home with my kids watching me shoot.”

The India connection

American technology firms are dotted with Indian talent. Over the last few years, more and more Indians are assuming leadership roles at these companies. Be it Microsoft or Amazon or Google, companies use these events to celebrate this connection. Starting from lining up Indian origin speakers to littering the venue with Indian motifs, Google has always used this event to showcase its deep commitment to India.

In the absence of a physical setting, Google for India 2020 was littered with Indianness in its own way. Be it Pichai talking about his childhood memories around Doordarshan’s rendition of ‘Sarein Jahaan Se Achha’ or Caesar switching between Hindi and English or between crores and millions, the Indian origin top executives played their India card strongly.

This resonates in the top echelons of the government as well. Referring to Sundar, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad stressed in his speech how Pichai being a global leader with Indian roots, can actually help Google India scale new heights.

The financial muscle

Google has always played its product card in India, building first for the country and eventually scaling it up globally. The payments initiative of Google, which was locally started as Tez, has slowly morphed into a payments product around Google Pay. Even Bolo, which helped students read with an in-app reading assistant, is now going global with Read Along being made available in more than 180 countries.

This year’s Google for India was slightly different that way since not many new products were launched, rather it was used as a platform to announce a mammoth $10 billion investment proposal in India over the next five to seven years. The closest parallel that can be drawn is Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos announcing a billion dollar fund for investments in India. This announcement will prove that Google is in India for the long haul. It also has to be seen in the context of the Indian government’s aversion to Chinese capital.

The small business promise

Small businesses are seeing a rapid surge in digitisation due to the coronavirus pandemic. And Google which leveraged the former with Google Pay, is not going to let this opportunity slip by. Some 26 million small businesses are already listed on Google and now going beyond discovery, it is looking to help them start transacting online.

Google Spots, Google Pay and Nearby indicate Google’s interest in the digitisation of small businesses. Why is this significant? Google is not alone in this race. It has Facebook and Amazon for company here, along with a host of Indian startups. The road side corner shop is after all becoming the cornerstone of all global tech giants’ strategy for the country.
First Published on Jul 13, 2020 08:26 pm