Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, accepted the Padma Bhushan award from the Indian ambassador to the United States and said, “India is a part of me and I carry it with me wherever I go.”
The Indian-American Pichai was honoured with the Padma Bhushan in the Commercial and Industrial Achievement category in 2022. Pichai, who was born in Madurai, was selected as one of the 17 winners earlier this year.
On Friday, he was honoured with India’s third highest civilian award in San Francisco, surrounded by his loved ones.
“I am deeply grateful to the Indian government and the people of India for this immense honour. It is incredibly meaningful to be honoured in this way by the country that shaped me,” 50-year-old Pichai said while accepting the award from India’s Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu.
“India is a part of me. I carry it with me wherever I go. (Unlike this beautiful award which I will keep somewhere safe),” he said.
“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,” Pichai said.
T V Nagendra Prasad, who is India’s consul general in San Francisco, was also there.
When asked to illustrate the transformative power of technology, Sandhu pointed to Pichai.
“He has been making commendable efforts towards making digital tools, and skills accessible to across various segments of the society in different parts of the globe,” he said.
Sandhu wished that Google would fully take advantage of the digital revolution taking place in India, recalling Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s goal of technology that combines the 3Ss — speed, simplicity, and service.
It was incredible, Pichai said, to return to India so many times over the years and witness the tremendous development of technology.
What started in India is now helping people all across the world, from digital payments to speech technologies, he said.
“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,” he said.
Pichai noted that more individuals, even those in remote areas, have access to the internet than ever before.
“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,” he said
“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,” he said.
To hear Pichai tell it, the future is ripe with possibility.
According to Pichai, “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. That’s a goal we share, and are committed to advancing with you.”
On Thursday, India became the official new leader of the Group of 20.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to do this work together and bring the benefits of technology to more people,” Pichai said.
Using an improvement in machine learning, Google this year enabled support for 24 additional languages in its translation service. Eight are original Indian tongues.
“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,” he added.