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Indian startup founders form Atmanirbhar Digital India Foundation (ADIF) to push back against global tech giants

What is clearly a direct outcome of the coming together of Indian startup founders late in 2020, to push back against Google imposing a 30% commission on Play Store apps in India, some Indian startup founders have announced the formation of the “Atamnirbhar Digital India Foundation (ADIF)”, which has been formed “for protection of freedom of choice in Internet ecosystem”, and  “to become the voice of entrepreneurs for policymakers and regulators”. Ajay Data, the Secretary General of ADIF said in a statement that the organisation believes that “it’s high time for all Indian technology companies to come together to safeguard the larger interests of the sector and work towards creating a level playing field.”

Read between the lines, and the objective is to also push back against the dominance in India, of global technology giants.

This association, and its remit, largely owe their existence to Google imposing a 30% commission on payments to apps on the Play Store, a policy they deferred for India, following the push-back.

MediaNama had reported that the group of founders, which were a part of the India Startup Connect WhatsApp group, were planning to create an industry association to represent the views of Indian founders. One of the members of this group had told MediaNama then that they believed that all Indian industry associations, whether IAMAI or NASSCOM had multinational companies including Google, Facebook and Amazon as members, and thus did not adequately represent the views of Indian founders.

“They will always have foreign companies. We want only Indian Internet companies”, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder of One97 and Paytm, had also told MediaNama then.

From the ADIF website: “India has been an oil importer and dependent on foreign powers for oil and we could not do anything about it because it’s a natural resource. In the new world, Data is the new oil and drives all other businesses. Thus, in the field of data and digital technology, we want to ensure that the country is not an importer and the progress of our country is not dependent on foreign technology alone.”

The group of founders had, post an initial meeting (which we had reported here), then lobbied the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, and the Competition Commission of India. The Competition Commission of India has subsequently opened an investigation of Google’s Play Store policies.

What we know so far

Here’s what we know so far, from the press-note:

  • Membership:
    • The executive council of ADIF includes: Murugavel Janakiraman (Founder and CEO – Matrimony.com), Snehil Khanor (Co-Founder and CEO of TrulyMadly), Dr. Ritesh Mallik (Founder at Innov8 Coworking), Sairee Chahal (Founder & CEO – SHEROES), Ajay Data (Managing Director of Data Group of Industries)
    • Other members: Anand Lunia (Founding Partner – India Quotient), Amit Sinha (Co-Founder – Unnati) and Shailesh Vikram Singh (Managing Partner – Massive Fund).
    • Ajay Data, of the Data Group of Industries is the Secretary General of ADIF
  • Mission:
    • Ensure and work towards an open, fair, neutral, and democratic digital ecosystem by ensuring freedom of choice for consumers and organisations, using digital products and services.
    • Assist in formulation of frameworks and methodologies to solve the startup ecosystem’s complex challenges.
    • Support startups in scaling up their capabilities via technology collaboration and inflow of capital from Indian and global organisations.
    • Work towards building a level playing field for Indian startups so that they become self-reliant and build world class products and services.
  • Plans:
    • To open city wise chapters in top 25 cities over the coming few months and expand membership further in tier-II, tier-III and rest of India towns.
    • To create a knowledge hub and a repository of best practices for building digital products and services to strengthen the overall capabilities of the enabling ecosystem
    • To collaborate with Indian and Global research experts to understand the growth enablers of Indian startups and empower the ecosystem by removing entry barriers so that homegrown technology companies can grow, expand and eventually become self-sustainable.
  • Membership Fee:
    • ₹500,000 for businesses with Revenues of ₹500cr+
    • ₹250,000 for businesses with Revenues of ₹100-500cr
    • ₹100,000 for businesses with revenues of ₹50-100cr
    • ₹50,000 for businesses with revenues of ₹25cr-50cr
    • ₹25,000 for businesses with revenues of ₹5-25cr
    • ₹1,000 for businesses with revenues of ₹0-5cr

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