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Hey Google!

In India we have a tradition of marrying off our daughters and to send them to live with her spouse and in laws for the rest of her life. Although she is one of us but yet she no longer remains to be one of us. Many of us boast how well our daughter is doing in her life by contributing lot to her new family. Now a days I am forced to draw a parallel to Indian origin talents taking up pivotal roles in global business and government leadership positions. I feel as if we have send them in marriage to these countries or business houses. Microsoft, IBM, Twitter, Google/Alphabet etc. are of full of Indian origin talents taking these organizations to new heights.

Google is no exception and many in India are claiming that Google is now our own (family) as Pichai Sundararajan better known as Sundar Pichai Indian-born in Tamilnadu but now an American is the CEO of both Google, Inc. and its holding company, Alphabet Inc. India in terms of numbers and market will definitely be advantageous and suitable alliance for Google. This does not belittle the sweat, struggle and achievements of Sundar Pichai by any means. Sundar Pichai’s achievements has caused much celebration in India even in government corridors. Some of them even called this as ‘Indian domination’. Sundar Pichai, is also the recipient of prestigious Padma Bhushan award conferred upon him by the government of India for his contributions in the trade and industry category.

Hence, before we celebrate his achievements as one of our own, we need to think hard as to why do such talented people leave India? Pichai was born in Tamil Nadu. Soon after completing his graduation, he left India to pursue his higher education in the United States. After earning a degree in metallurgy (B.Tech., 1993) and a silver medal at the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, he was awarded a scholarship to study at Stanford University (M.S. in engineering and materials science, 1995). Thereafter he continue to live in America, working briefly for Applied Materials (a supplier of semiconductor materials) and then earning an M.B.A. (2002) from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

His story is an amazingly inspiring one and seems nothing less than Bollywood blockbuster movie. He grew up in Ashok Nagar, Chennai, living in a cramped family home and mostly sharing space with other members of the house. Pichai would later tell colleagues that two of the most memorable moments of his childhood were the days his family bought a refrigerator and a rotary telephone. His Father, Regunatha Pichai was an electrical engineer at the British multinational GEC. He was very determined that his children should receive good education. On the other hand Pichai at an early age displayed an extraordinary memory, especially for telephone numbers also a keen interest in technology. His mother, Lakshmi, was a stenographer and he has a younger brother, Srinivasan Pichai. When Sundar was in school he was good at playing cricket and was the captain of his high school cricket team as well. “I’m an American citizen but India is deeply within me”, Pichai said in an interview given to BBC. Pichai grew up without much access to technology and never had regular access to a computer until he reached America for graduate school. He never had a telephone at home until he was ten and when he got a TV, it had only one channel. These aspects of his early life he revealed during YouTube’s dear class of 2020. His first plane ticket was costing him equivalent to his father’s annual salary. His father spent the same so that Sundar could attend Stanford.

Sunder is married to Anjali. She was born in Kota, Rajasthan, India. Sundar Pichai met Anjali while studying at IIT Kharagpur. The couple tied the knot after few years of courtship. Anjali Pichai is a chemical engineer, currently working with Intuit, a software company. They have two children Kavya and Kiran. Sundar credits Anjali for his meteoric rise in Google, as it was she who convinced him to stay with Google when he was flooded with offers from all around.

Following a brief stint at McKinsey & Co., Pichai joined Google in 2004 as the head of product management and development. He worked with the Google Toolbar initially. Google Toolbar enables those using the Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox Web browsers to easily access the Google search engine. Thereafter, he was directly involved in the development of Google’s own browser, Chrome, which was released to the public in 2008. Pichai was named vice president of product development, that same year and he became more visible in his more-active public role.

In 2011 the microblogging service company Twitter, aggressively pursued Pichai for employment and in 2014 he was touted as a prospective CEO for Microsoft. He was granted large financial packages to remain with Google as result of such offers made to him. By 2012 he rose up the rank to become senior vice president, and two years later, he was made the product chief over both Google and the Android smartphone operating system.
He has exhibited a character which later evolved into new work culture resulting in a huge growth potential in the companies he worked with. That is the reason I would term his achievements, stellar! The whole new bunch and breed of Indian origin leadership has brought in a new wave of work culture and employee relations attributes that has worked wonders for the Global businesses. I would like to say that we are proud of ours who has become theirs. Indian Diaspora across the Globe and India as a Nation has warmed up to these brands as if it is one of theirs. India alone can provide those numbers for a sustainable business growth.

Let’s look into bit of Pichai’s contributions to the business world. He helped Google negotiate $3.2 billion deal to acquire Nest Labs in 2014. Therefore, when Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin announced the creation of Alphabet Inc., in August 2015, Pichai was named CEO of Google, which now was reorganized as a subsidiary. And this was not a surprise to industry insiders.

Pichai added Android In 2013 to the list of Google products that he oversaw. He stepped into the new position at the completion of the formation of Alphabet Inc., the new holding company for the Google company family, on October 24, 2015. He later was appointed to the Alphabet Board of Directors in 2017.

One of the significant efforts spearheaded was Android One, Google’s push to make low-cost smartphones for “the next 5 billion” people coming online. Pichai was also incredibly instrumental in ensuring Android was better integrated with Google proper.

Google and Alphabet CEO Pichai has pledged support in India’s battle against the second wave of Covid-19, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi had referred to as a ‘toofan’ (storm) while addressing his radio programme ‘Mann Ki Baat.’

Google is undergoing a perilous moment, as it is fighting regulatory challenges at home and abroad. Politicians are united in their mistrust of the company, making Pichai a fixture at congressional hearings. Even his critics say he has so far managed to navigate those hearings without ruffling the feathers of lawmakers or providing more ammunition to his company’s foes.

Even the Google executives who complain about Pichai’s leadership acknowledge that, and say he is a thoughtful and caring leader. They also say Google is more disciplined and organized these days — a bigger, more professionally run company than the one Pichai inherited six years ago. Pichai’s reluctance to take decisive measures has been noticeable. At the same time he is also credited to manage the issues so well than anyone else could have.

Now when the multitudes of Indians join the chorus of saying ‘Hey Google’ along with all others across the globe, there’s a Pichai listening at the other end with an Indian heart.
So try saying ‘Namaste Google’ next time.

Melwyn Williams

Melwyn is a renowned film actor, producer, writer and director in the Indian film Industry. He is a writer as well as a journalist. He has contributed immensely to the world of art, literature and cinema. He is the founder of LADAKH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, LIFF. He has been active in the film industry for more than two decades. Melwyn believes that AESTHETICS is the next big thing to be incorporated in all spheres of life and technology. Website

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