Jul 062015

“If Indians can work in Google. Why can’t Google be made in India?” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked last week when he launched the Digital India program.

Digital India is an ambitious project based on three areas of vision; getting infrastructure to all billion Indians, digitally empowering those citizens and improving government through the use of technology.

Certainly the project has caught the imagination of the business community with Indian tech companies pledging $US 72 billion to the initiative with the promise of over a million jobs being created.

In the past, India has been notable for its slow, bureaucratic business ways but Prime Minister Modi is promising to change all of that under the Digital India initiative.

“The world is changing, quicker than ever before and we cannot remain oblivious to that. If we don’t innovate, if we don’t come up with cutting edge products there will be stagnation”

While India’s government is talking the talk, actually changing the nation’s business community is going to be a huge but not impossible task although the Digital India project has had a difficult history.

That task though is necessary as South Asia has for decades lagged the growth of the countries to their East however now countries like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have the benefit of younger workforces while powerhouses such as China, Japan and South Korea age.

Should we see an Indian Google in the near future it won’t look like today’s Silicon Valley giants given the cultural differences between America’s Bay Area and India’s business communities.

However if we do see an ‘Indian Google’ it will be huge given the size of the nation’s domestic market. Like China’s Alibaba, a successful local enterprise can become a global player just based on its user numbers.

There’s many barriers to an Indian Google happening but those who scoff at the idea should remember how fifty years ago the thought of Japan being a high tech manufacturer were laughed at and the idea of China being the world’s factory was unthinkable.

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