India: Google Should Offer More India-Specific Services

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With India's digital economy expected to hit $1 trillion by 2020, the country's Minister for Information and Technology, Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad, has asked Google's Indian-origin CEO, Mr. Sundar Pichai, to tailor the company's products and services keeping India's needs and sensibilities in mind. Speaking at a Google event at New Delhi, Mr. Prasad termed the Silicon Valley-based search giant "as much Indian as it is American", and said that the company can actually play a much larger role in spreading awareness in areas like cyber security in a country where the majority of the population have only recently started getting on the web thanks to the smartphone revolution and the accompanying wireless boom.

With more people getting on the internet in India, online financial transactions in the country have been on the rise as well, making many cyber-security experts question the preparedness of various digital payment gateways to deal with hacking and other forms of cyber-attacks. According to the minister, this is exactly where global technology giants like Google can play a bigger role, paving the way for a safer and more secured digital future for the country's internet users. There's no word on how Mr. Pichai responded to the minister's plea, but cases of online security breaches are indeed on the rise, not just in India but around the world. Even technology giants like Yahoo and Sony are apparently failing to keep hackers and cyber criminals at bay, with both reporting massive security breaches of their user accounts over the past couple of years.

As for India, the country is still battling the cash-crunch that has hit its residents because of a controversial recent move by the federal government to demonetize bills of Rs. 500 ($7.5) and Rs. 1,000 ($15) denominations. While the Prime Minister has claimed that such a move will help catch habitual tax-evaders, critics have pointed out the havoc it has wreaked among law-abiding citizens in a country where a huge majority of transactions are still done via cash. With cash hard to come by, digital payment methods like mobile wallets have seen a sudden spike in transactions, although increased use of such payment options have raised severe concerns in some quarters about privacy and security in a country where many are still deeply apprehensive about online financial transactions.

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