Foreign Policy Digital

India’s Sleeping Tech Giants Are About to Awaken

A weak rupee could be just the push the Big Five need.

Perhaps Walmart’s $16 billion acquisition of India’s online shopping leader Flipkart this summer was the last straw. Soon after the massive deal was signed, journalists got a look at a draft proposal for a new e-commerce policy from the central government. Suddenly India seemed prepared to follow China’s playbook: Measures that appeared to be copied straight from Beijing included closing loopholes permitting foreign ownership and requiring firms to store Indian consumer data in country and make it accessible to the government. All this and more, the proposal asserted, is needed to “level the playing field,” “encourage domestic innovation,” and give India’s tech companies an opportunity to flourish.

According to Kleiner Perkins’s on internet trends, nine of the world’s top 20 tech companies are based in China. That country also boasts 76 “unicorns”—private companies, mostly to just 14, most of them funded with U.S. and Chinese venture capital money that flowed into the country in the wake of China’s tech boom. It has always been puzzling that India—a petri dish for both entrepreneurship and technology talent—never spawned its own consumer tech giant like Alibaba or Tencent.

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