As the dominance of big technology companies such as Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft grow in the world’s second-most populous country, Indian tech startups have come together to protect themselves from the monopoly these companies have created in their respective sectors.
A group of startups has formed an organization called Atmanirbhar Digital Indian Foundation (ADIF) in their bid to build a neutral and self-reliant technology ecosystem that promotes a level playing field for domestic internet companies. It said it will work in tandem with government and regulatory agencies to design a legal and policy framework that would encourage the growth of the digital economy.
‘Atmanirbhar’ the Hindi word for self-reliance has recently become a buzzword in the country after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year called for an “atmanirbhar Bharat” or self-reliant India, to decrease the country’s reliance on foreign companies and asked startups to create globally relevant companies.
The ADIF formation happens at a time when globally—from the US to EU and recently China—tech companies are under increasingly stricter scrutiny over their monopolistic position and practice in addition to a surge of nationalism across the world.
“Our aim is to represent Indian technology companies to help them in building a sustainable and conducive business environment,” said Ajay Data, Secretary General of ADIF. “We believe it’s high time all Indian technology companies come together to safeguard the larger interests of the sector and work towards creating a level playing field.”
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Prominent entrepreneurs and CEOs from the Indian startup ecosystem that are part of this association include, Murugavel Janakiraman of Bharat Matrimony, Snehil Khanor of TrulyMadly, Ritesh Mallik of Innov8 Coworking, Sairee Chahal of SHEROES, Ajay Data of Data Group, Anand Lunia of India Quotient, among others.
The seeds of this association were sown last year when Google delisted India’s digital payment giant Paytm from its Play Store which resulted into Paytm launching its own mini app store to try to break Google’s monopoly in the Android app ecosystem. However, what really irked the Indian startup ecosystem as a whole was when, Google, a few days later, announced that all app developers would have to use its billing system to process in-app purchases and pay Google a fee of 30% on every transaction.
Since it would affect a big chunk of Indian tech companies, some of the prominent founders and CEOs got together and decided they would form an organization that will work with the government and other stakeholders to ensure a level playing field.
To promote diverse yet inclusive participation, ADIF will open city-wise chapters in the top 25 Indian cities over the coming few months and expand membership further in tier-II, tier-III, and rest of India, it said in a statement.