Touched by Greatness (Google, Digital Unlocked, Sundar Pichai, Modi, India)
By Mohan Kannegal
I was present at the launch of Digital Unlocked by Google. We were invited since Manipal ProLearn has been partnering Google in creating certified Digital Marketers and in co-creating the Digital Unlocked course.
It was a touching moment for me to be sitting in the audience, a few feet away from Sundar Pichai (Google CEO) and Ravi Shankar Prasad (Minister for IT). This was a moment of being touched by greatness. Google was committing to using its brand, money and considerable engineering talent (to build something like Maps needs a completely different order of genius) to help small Indian businesses grow. The cynics would immediately dismiss this as self-serving. But pause to think about it. Google is working to make the small store next door have access to the same powerful digital marketing tools that Coca-Cola uses. This is true democratization of tech. There are very few examples of enterprise-class technology being made available to everyone on pay-as-much-as-you-can model.
Then there was Sundar Pichai himself. To think that a middle-class Indian from Chennai, through hard-work, intelligence and creativity can become CEO of Google in a decade of joining the company. That is truly wow!
Then we heard Ravi Shankar Prasad (Minister for IT in the Modi cabinet) speak. He started off by outlining the Prime Minister's vision for India. The Prime Minister's directive to his team is "we have a mandate, not to administer, but to transform. we must not administer India. We must transform India". He went on to highlight how demonetization has lead to digital payments and how the BHIM app will transform lives, by giving access to credit to small businesses.
No I am not a bhakt. Nor am I blinded to the downsides of demonetization. But I think everyone connects with enthusiasm, passion and hope. This is a government that believes the future can be better than the past. For years, Indian governments (despite the rhetoric) had assumed poverty was a given. The focus of government was to lessen the suffering from poverty. But this government is working to eradicate poverty itself. One step towards it is by providing access to credit. And one step towards that is digital payments. They may not succeed. But they are trying something audacious.
It was hard to be in that room and not be touched by greatness - the greatness of Google's mission, the greatness of Sundar Pichai's achievement, the greatness to which India's current government aspires and the greatness of India itself.
I am moved to say "Jai Hind"!