Editor’s note: Earlier today, India’s Ambassador to the United States, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, presented our CEO Sundar Pichai with a Padma Bhushan Award on behalf of the Government of India. The Padma Awards are India’s highest civilian honors. Sundar shares his thoughts in response to receiving the award in San Francisco.
I want to thank Ambassador Sandhu and Consul General Prasad for hosting me to receive the Padma Bhushan. I am deeply grateful to the Indian government and the people of India for this immense honor. It is incredibly meaningful to be honored in this way by the country that shaped me.
India is a part of me. I carry it with me wherever I go. (Unlike this beautiful award which I will keep somewhere safe.)
I was fortunate to grow up in a family that cherished learning and knowledge, with parents who sacrificed a lot to make sure I had opportunities to explore my interests. Every new technology that arrived at our doorstep made our lives better. And that experience put me on a path to Google, and the chance to help build technology that improves the lives of people all over the world.
It’s been so amazing to return to India many times over the years to see the rapid pace of technological change. Increasingly the innovations created in India are benefitting people around the world — from digital payments to voice technology. Businesses are seizing the opportunities for digital transformation, and more people have access to the internet than ever before, including in rural villages.
Prime Minister Modi’s Digital India vision has certainly been an accelerator for that progress, and I’m proud that Google continues to invest in India, partnering with governments, businesses and communities over two transformative decades.
We recently announced that we’ll be investing $10 billion in India’s digital future, working to enable more affordable internet access, building products for India’s unique needs, helping businesses of all sizes in their digital transformation, and using AI to tackle big societal challenges.
We’re also investing deeply in digital skilling, and have trained over 1 million women through our WomenWill Entrepreneurship Program and over 55,000 teachers in partnership with the government and local organizations. We’ve also sponsored over 100,000 Google Career Certificate sponsorships in collaboration with the NASSCOM Foundation and Tata Strive.
And our products are helping people access knowledge and opportunity — from the many students and educators who are using Google Classroom, to the millions of small businesses using Search and Maps to connect with customers, to the unique features such as offline mode in Maps.
Earlier this year, we added 24 new languages to Google Translate using a new advancement in machine learning. Eight of them are languages native to India. It means so much to see how people can access information and knowledge in their preferred language, and see the world open up to them in new ways.
That’s why I continue to be so optimistic about technology, and why I believe India can and must continue to lead.
I see so much opportunity ahead. Next year, India will take over leadership of the G20. It’s an amazing opportunity to build consensus on strengthening the global economy by advancing an internet that is open, connected, secure, and works for everyone, a goal we share.
I look forward to continuing the great partnership between Google and India, as we work together to bring the benefits of technology to more people.