MediAvataar's News Desk
Today at Google for India, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced a $10 billion Google for India Digitization Fund to help accelerate India’s digital economy. Below is an edited transcript of his remarks. Watch the full event here.
Google for India is always a really special time, and I only wish I could be there in person.
One of the challenges of this moment is that we can’t visit the people we love, or the places we call home. During this time, the ability to be online has been a lifeline to so many of us: whether you’re a small business trying to stay afloat…a parent looking for updates on how to keep your family healthy…or a student trying to keep up with your studies. Being helpful in these moments is at the core of Google’s mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
A new generation of Indian innovation
This mission is deeply personal to me. Growing up, technology provided a window to a world outside my own. It also brought us closer together as a family. Every evening we were drawn to the television by Doordarshan’s special rendition of “Sare Jahan Se Accha.” I tried to explain this to my colleagues the other day, but I eventually gave up and just showed it to them on YouTube.
When I was young, every new piece of technology brought new opportunities to learn and grow. But I always had to wait for it to arrive from someplace else. Today, people in India no longer have to wait for technology to come to you. A whole new generation of technologies are happening in India first.
It’s been incredible to see the rapid pace of change unfolding over my past few visits. From the excitement of young people using the latest apps and services, to the ways people are using smartphones to improve lives in rural villages, to the more than 2,500 Indian YouTube creators who each have over a million subscribers. I’ve actually turned to some of these creators for help over the last few weeks…for example, to learn how to make dishes like paneer makhani or pizza with my kids.
Indian small businesses go digital
One of the most exciting success stories has been the digitization of small businesses. Just four years ago, only one-third of all small businesses in India had an online presence. Today, 26 million SMBs are now discoverable on Search and Maps, driving connections with more than 150 million users every month. What’s more, small merchants across the country are now equipped to accept digital payments. This has made it possible for more small businesses to become part of the formal economy, and it improves their access to credit.
The global pandemic has supercharged the adoption of digital tools. Digital payments, for example, have enabled families across India to access goods and services during lockdowns. For them, grocery delivery services have been invaluable—though I’m sure my grandmother misses haggling over the price of her vegetables in person.
When we build for India, we build for the world
Of course, all this progress was only possible because of a strong foundation of digital connectivity. Thanks to Prime Minister Modi’s vision for Digital India, the country has made huge progress in getting a billion Indians online. Low-cost smartphones combined with affordable data, and a world-class telecom infrastructure, have paved the way for new opportunities.
At Google, we’ve been proud to be a partner in India’s digitization journey since 2004, when we opened our first offices in Hyderabad and Bangalore. In those days, our focus was on getting helpful and relevant information to Indian users through Search, whether they were searching for their favorite Bollywood star or cricket scores.
From there, we spread awareness of the Internet in rural villages through programs like Internet Saathi. It’s helped more than 30 million women across India gain digital skills to improve their lives and their communities.
Google’s efforts in India have deepened our understanding of how technology can be helpful to all different types of people. Building products for India first has helped us build better products for users everywhere.
A recent example is GPay, our fast, simple way to pay contactless or online. Together with the rise in BHIM-UPI adoption, GPay makes it easy to pay the rickshawala, or send money to family back home. India is setting the global standard on how to digitize payments, and it’s now helping us build a global product.
Our AI-powered reading tutor app Bolo, now called Read Along, is another example of a technology built specifically for Indian users. Last year I visited with students in Mumbai who were using the app to learn to read on their own. It was amazing to see their excitement when they read a new word in Hindi for the first time. It received such positive reception, we’re rolling it out to the rest of the world—now children in 180 countries can learn to read in nine languages, with more to come.
And our AI flood forecasting system was designed to keep people safe during India’s monsoon season. I’ll never forget how the 2015 floods in Chennai impacted so many families. I’m hopeful that this technology will bring greater peace of mind to the hundreds of millions of people affected by floods each year around the world.
Our next chapter of investment: Google for India Digitization Fund
These are just a few examples of how innovations that start in India can benefit the rest of the world. But India’s own digital journey is far from complete. There’s still more work to do in order to make the internet affordable and useful for a billion Indians…from improving voice input and computing for all of India’s languages, to inspiring and supporting a whole new generation of entrepreneurs.
Over the years, we’ve invested in many Indian businesses through Google, as well as through our growth equity investment fund CapitalG.
Today, I’m excited to announce the Google for India Digitization Fund. Through this effort, we will invest ₹75,000 crore, or approximately $10 billion, into India over the next 5-7 years. We’ll do this through a mix of equity investments, partnerships, and operational, infrastructure and ecosystem investments. This is a reflection of our confidence in the future of India and its digital economy.
Investments will focus on four areas important to India’s digitization:First, enabling affordable access and information for every Indian in their own language, whether it’s Hindi, Tamil, Punjabi or any other
Second, building new products and services that are deeply relevant to India’s unique needs
Third, empowering businesses as they continue or embark on their digital transformation
Fourth, leveraging technology and AI for social good, in areas like health, education, and agriculture
As we make these investments, we look forward to working alongside Prime Minister Modi and the Indian government, as well as Indian businesses of all sizes to realize our shared vision for a Digital India.
There’s no question we are facing a difficult moment today, in India and around the world. The dual challenges to our health and to our economies have forced us to rethink how we work and how we live. But times of challenge can lead to incredible moments of innovation. Our goal is to ensure India not only benefits from the next wave of innovation, but leads it. Working together we can ensure that our best days are still ahead.
Written by Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google and Alphabet
Mr Brahm Vasudeva, former Chairman of Hawkins Cookers Limited and founding member of MRUC India passed away on Friday, July 10, 2020 at the age of 84. Mr Vasudeva was also MRUC India’s first Chairman (year 1994-95).
Mr Vasudeva played a huge role in bringing together industry players from various constituencies, specifically from the advertisers’ constituency, and successfully founded MRUC India, a not-for-profit industry body, in the year 1994. The very next year, MRUC India launched its first ever Indian Readership Survey (IRS). Mr Vasudeva was completely devoted to the cause of a timely, reliable, regular and robust media research through MRUC India. He never missed a user body meeting or the Annual General Meetings, and was always at the forefront, speaking on behalf of MRUC members, sharing his unapologetic views, feedback and gave pointed suggestions to MRUC India.
Mr Pratap Pawar, Chairman of Sakal Media and Chairman, MRUC India said, “We offer our heartfelt condolences to the family of Brahm Vasudeva, our thoughts and prayers are with his near and dear ones. MRUC India owes its formation and much of its success in meeting its core objectives and goals to his visionary leadership. He will be sorely missed and remembered for his dedication and constant guidance in advancing the cause of media research in India.”
Mr Shashi Sinha, CEO, IPG Mediabrands India and Vice Chairman of MRUC India said, “An end of an era. The industry has lost a dynamic leader, a man with an eye for great details. He has left a huge vacuum in the industry which will be difficult to fill. We will always miss him, especially in our AGMs and we will miss his guiding hand particularly in these uncertain times. May his soul rest in peace.”
Mr I. Venkat, Director, Eenadu Group and founding member of MRUC India said, “Brahm was a perfectionist. He stood like a pillar in the initial years when IRS was launched and was competing against an established study supported by the entire industry. He never missed an AGM of MRUC India and was always available for consultation. We will miss his support; our heartfelt condolences to his family.”
Ms Roda Mehta, founding member and former Chairperson of MRUC India, who worked closely with Mr Brahm Vasudeva in setting up MRUC India, states, “It is with a sense of loss that I write this on the recent demise of MRUC’s first Founder Chairman, Brahm Vasudeva. When media research users representing Advertisers, Advertising Agencies and the Media came together for the first time in 1993 with common purpose of independent, high quality consumer media measurement with regular frequency for accountability in media spending, that Brahm set his firm hand on the formation of the Media Research Users Council. As was to be expected, there was opposition to the very idea of a User body from expected (and unexpected) sources, but Brahm never wavered. He did not allow the many ups and downs, the politics, the subtle threats, to dislodge the goal. And not unsurprisingly, within a short time of 1 year, the Council was up and running.”
Having worked with Brahm at close quarters as a Board Member of the Council, and as the first Technical Committee Chair, his attention and forethought of every conceivable detail in the formation and functioning of the organisation was what laid the foundation of the principles and standards of what the Council was to deliver in its offering to users - the Indian Readership Survey, followed by Radio and Outdoor measurement. Brahm continued to remain engaged with the Council as a Board member for many years and religiously attended all Annual General Meetings with members of the organisation. I think he was rightfully proud of the babe he had nurtured to maturity” added Ms Mehta.
Mr Brahm Vasudeva was the son of HD Vasudeva, the founder of Hawkins Cooker. He took over the reins from his father in 1984 and became the Chairman and Managing Director of the company. He retired in 2006, after 38 years of his service at Hawkins. Mr Vasudeva was MRUC India’s founding member and Chairman of MRUC in the year 1994-95.
City’s favourite print news publication adds to its bouquet an interactive digital tabloid for smartphones offering an unbeatable user experience
As the world gradually comes to terms with a new normal, news consumption patterns are also seeing a transformation. The only English tabloid in India to register 4% growth in readership in the last quarter of 2019-2020 (Source: IRS Q3 results), Mid-Day has been a sturdy and reliable news source for 41 years. Staying one step ahead, Mumbai’s favourite newspaper has now added yet another string to its bow by launching its interactive digital tabloid on mobile. For the first time ever, the newspaper will be available for a convenient page-by-page reading experience on smartphone, with additional multi-media features.
Mid-day has added to its loyal print readership by reaching 10 crore online users in the last three months, who will now enjoy an enhanced Mid-day at an unbeatable ₹1 per day. Exclusive news breaks, entertainment features, leisure and around town coverage and local sports reportage come alive with a smooth swipe of pages, animated visual vocabulary and influencer videos. Mid-day’s Digital Tabloid is the one stop shop for all things #MadeInMumbai.
Ms.Apurva Purohit, President, Jagran Group said, “Mid-day has been the voice of Mumbai for the past 41 years and has continued to share the most comprehensive, authentic, and entertaining news with its readers. Due to superior content and credible coverage in these trying times, Mid-day and Gujarati mid-day now reach a wider national audience, building a strong equity with over 10 crore people who accessed the newspaper on their phones every single day without a break for three months of the lockdown. The surge in our website numbers and engagement rate has reaffirmed our readers’ love and support for their favourite newspaper. The interactive digital tabloid is an apt amalgamation of leveraging technology and putting reader preference first in the most enjoyable experience. The one-of-a-kind digital tabloid will be available at a nominal price of ₹1 per day; definitely an unprecedented move when you look at age-old industry standards.”
Brazilian leads International Management Board for world’s largest communications partnership
PROI Worldwide announced the Management Board slate for 2020/2021, led by Global Chair Ciro Dias dos Reis, President of Imagem Corporativa based in Brazil. PROI is the world’s largest partnership of leading independent communications agencies with partners in 50 countries.
“This is an exciting and dynamic time to assume the leadership of PROI,” Reis said. “The Covid 19 pandemic has been painful in many ways. But it also has opened opportunities for entrepreneurs like those in PROI to transform their business and provide leadership for the economic, social and environmental realities their clients will face in the future.”
The International Management Board includes:
Global Chair – Ciro Dias dos Reis, Imagem Corporativa, Brazil.
Immediate Past Chair – Clare Parsons, Lansons, U.K.
EMEA Region Vice-Chairs – Kaija Pohjala, Cocomms, Finland; Rania Azab, 4PR Group, Egypt; Eliza Rogalski, Rogalski Damaschin PR, Romania.
Americas Region Vice-Chairs – Laura Tomasetti, 360 PR+, U.S.; Lisa Ross, rbb Communications, U.S.; Jeff Lambert, Lambert, U.S.
APAC Region Vice-Chairs – Lena Soh-Ng, Huntington Communications, Singapore; Angela Scaffidi, Senate SHJ, Australia; Elaine Chuah, Priority Communications, Malaysia.
Non-voting Positions: Jeff Altheide, PROI Worldwide Global Managing Director and Board Secretary/Treasurer, U.S.; Allard van Veen, Senior Board Advisor, Canada; and Jean Leopold Schuybroek, Director of Global Development, Belgium.
India set to hit peak of 6.5 lakh active cases on August 21
The report indicates an alarming rise in COVID-19 cases in Southern states including Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala
Orissa, Bihar and West Bengal are showing signs as the next epicentre for COVID-19 in the country
The earlier hardest hit states of Maharashtra and Delhi has made significant progress in reducing transmission rate
Over the past 4 months, India has been in the grips of a pandemic that has uprooted the livelihoods of millions, impacting the economy adversely. Amid all the uncertainty, there is one question that stands above all, when will the outbreak end, and when can India expect to return to some semblance of normalcy? Tracking the coronavirus pandemic in India for the past several weeks, Times Fact-India Outbreak Report, has released its latest projections of the COVID-19 pandemic highlighting the peak and end dates at both National and State levels.
India, the third worst-hit country in the world after the US and Brazil, is projected to hit its peak of 6.45 Lakh active cases on August 21, indicates the latest mathematical modelling by the Times Fact-India Outbreak Report. This projection is based on the ‘most likely’ scenario and as per SEIR model, the peak is projected to be at 6.98 lakh active cases on August 23. The report shows that following India's peak, daily active case counts are projected to decline by mid-October, thereby establishing India’s recovery from COVID-19.
Following various States implementing relaxations to revive the nation’s economy, the study shows that the easing of mobility restrictions has led to abandoning of safety protocols and significantly contributing to India’s peak being pushed by approximately 40 days. The analysis had earlier predicted a peak by July 15, which now has been pushed to August 21. A continued failure to practise social distancing could very well skew India's coronavirus curve further to the right and upwards, yielding a higher peak, and more distant end date. This report aims to arm citizens on the evolving pandemic scenario, critical in the next 30-40days and therefore practice safety measures to flatten the curve.
Times Fact-India Outbreak Report: Key takeaways
1. National and State COVID -19 projection of active cases
A. India is projected to hit its peak of 6,45,700 active cases according to the ‘most likely’ model on August 21, and 6,97,714 active cases as per the SEIR model on August 23.
B. Alarming rise in COVID-19 cases in Southern states,
a) Karnataka is projected to hit a peak of 53,546 active cases according to the ‘most likely’ model on August 04 and its end is projected as September 25. As per the SEIR model, the state will reach a peak of 69,387 active cases on August 04 and is expected to end by September 17. Bangalore is projected to hit a peak of 33,772 active cases according to the ‘most likely’ model on August 10 and its end is projected as by September 25. As per the SEIR model the city will reach a peak of 23,429 active cases on August 10 and its end is projected as September 20
b) Tamil Nadu is projected to hit a peak of 53,075 active cases according to the ‘most likely’ model on July 21 and its end is projected by September 25. As per the SEIR model, the state will reach a peak of 68,379 active cases on August 01 and its end is projected as September 18.
c) Kerala is projected to hit its peak of 4372 active cases according to the ‘most likely’ model on August 10 and its end is projected as September 18. As per the SEIR model, the state will reach a peak of 4,835 active cases on August 20 and its end is projected as September 18.
d) Telangana is projected to hit its peak of 24,232 active cases according to the ‘most likely’ model on July 29 and its end is projected as August 25. As per the SEIR model, Telangana will touch a peak of 29,097 active cases on July 29 and its end is projected as September 19.
e) Andhra Pradesh is projected to hit its peak of 34,632 active cases according to the ‘most likely’ model on August 16 and its end is projected touch as September 25. The state will see a peak of 43,313 active cases as per the SEIR model on August 16.
C. Maharashtra, the worst-hit state, is projected to hit its peak of 1,43,181 active cases according to the ‘most likely’ model on August 1 and its end is projected as September 30. The state will see 1,31,832 active cases as per the SEIR model on July 29 and its end is projected as September 23. The report shows that Thane now is and will be the worst hit district in Maharashtra with more number of active cases and a higher peak than Mumbai. Thane is projected to hit the peak with 44,196 actives cases on July 26 according to the ‘most likely’ model and its end is projected as September 24. Pune is projected to hit its peak of 27,688 active cases on July 29, according to the ‘most likely’ model and its end is projected as September 18. As per SEIR model, Pune will reach a peak of 15,564 peak active cases on July 16 and its end is projected as August 17.
D. Uttar Pradesh is projected to hit its peak of 34,260 on August 18 according to the ‘most likely’ model and its end is projected as September 29. The state will see a peak of 31,567 active cases as per the SEIR model on August 18 and its end is projected as September 19.
E. Rajasthan is projected to hit its peak of 7998 cases according to the ‘most likely’ model on August 02 and its end is projected as September 29. The state will see a peak of 7,110 active cases as per the SEIR model on August 02 and its end is projected as September 09.
F. West Bengal is projected to hit its peak of 19,777 active cases according to the ‘most likely’ model on August 20 and its end is projected as October 03. The state will see a peak of 19,250 active cases as per the SEIR model on August 28 and its end is projected as September 19.
G. Delhi is projected to hit its peak of 30,851 active cases as per the SEIR model on August 4 and its end is projected as September 17.
H. Gujarat is projected to hit its peak of 10,521 active cases according to the ‘most likely’ model on July 21 and its end is projected as September 20. The state will see a peak of 12,770 active cases as per the SEIR model on July 28 and its end is projected as September 03. Surat is projected to hit its peak of 5775 active cases according to the ‘most likely’ model on August 11 and its end is projected as September 20.
2. R0 (Reproduction rate) for India is slowly going down to 1.69 from 1.77 in last 22 days.
3. India Doubling Days has increased to 20 days (as compared to 16 days a month back) but still low.
4. All the major states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Haryana are showing a downward trend with R0 less than 1.5.
5. Mumbai is showing a downward trend with R0 for the first time falling to 1.7.
6. The Doubling day has reduced for some of the states including Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Delhi which is a cause of concern.
7. Epicentre has moved from Mumbai to Delhi and now to Bangalore, Chennai, Telangana.
8. Growth rate in new epicentres are higher than the previous ones – potential to put strain on the health infrastructure. Thane reached 30,000 active cases (from 10,000) in 20 days as compared to Mumbai which took 37 days.
9. Orissa, Bihar and West Bengal have started to show signs of growth and becoming future epicentres.
10. Active cases in Bengaluru has gone up considerably in the last 20 days from below 400 to touching close to 10000 (9442) and started moving up again.
11. The overall growth rate of India on a 7 day moving average scale is 3.5% while the recovery rate at the same scale is 4.0%.
Led by insights and efficacy, Times Fact India Outbreak Report a joint endeavour by Times Network and global data and digital consulting firm Protiviti, has achieved an accuracy rate of 96% for active cases for its previous projections. The report showcases several pertinent data points which includes India’s possible peak points, state & city wise projections and active cases over a period of time and report follows a sophisticated and vigorous mathematical modelling. Parsed by reputed data scientists and quantitative experts, Times Fact India Outbreak Report is based on three different models, The Percentage Model, which involves mapping trends from Italy and the United States onto India, the Time Series Model, which involves factors in data across time periods in China and South Korea in addition to two polynomial regression models adapted to Indian data, and the Susceptible Exposed Infected Recovered (SEIR) model which is based on an estimation of a reproduction rate of the epidemic. Drawing critical information from central government data, state government bulletins, and daily updates provided by the Health Ministry, the report is a holistic COVID -19 projection for the nation.