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Minister ensures startups get protection, Google restores delisted apps

Google on Saturday (March 2) restored some of the Indian applications like Bharat Matrimony and Naukri that it had delisted from its Play Store over a disagreement regarding service fee payments.

The development comes hours after the Centre strongly opposed the tech giant’s move stating that the delisting of Indian apps cannot be permitted and that the startup ecosystem is key to the Indian economy and their fate cannot be left to any big tech to decide.

India’s IT and Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw told news agency PTI, “India is very clear, our policy is very clear…our startups will get the protection that they need.”

Vaishnaw had said that next week he would meet the Google officials and the app developers who were delisted.

“I have already called Google…I have already called the app developers who have been delisted, we will be meeting them next week. This cannot be permitted. This kind of delisting cannot be permitted,” Vaishnaw asserted.

‘Energy of youth cannot be left to the policies of any big tech,’ says Vaishnaw.

He said that India has created a robust startup ecosystem of over one lakh startups, and more than 100 unicorns from scratch in over a decade and that the energy of youth and entrepreneurs must be channelised fully and “cannot be left to the policies of any big tech.”

“I will be telling Google…Our entrepreneurial energy…startups, look at the whole startup India programme, 10 years back we had practically nothing and today we have more than 1,00,000 startups, more than 100 unicorns…this is something…the energy of our youth, the energy of our entrepreneurs, the energy of our talented people that has to be channelised fully well, it cannot be left to the policies of any big tech,” Vaishnaw said.

Google on Friday (March 1), justifying the move, stated that 10 firms in the country, including several “well-established” ones, did not pay the fees despite having benefitted from the platform and Play Store.

The dispute revolves around Indian startups’ resistance to Google’s imposition of service fees ranging from 11 per cent to 26 per cent on in-app payments. Despite earlier orders from antitrust authorities to revise these fees, Google gained court approval to maintain or remove apps based on compliance.

Meanwhile, Minister of State for IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar also said that the concerns around the dominance of Google stifling competition and startups have been flagged.

“I have raised concerns on the dominance of Google in the past, it controls more than 90 per cent of the app ecosystem in India, the fact that they are a vertically integrated large company, we are concerned that their dominance does stifle competitions and startups, and it can be misused against startups, and there are some legitimate concerns that the government has,” Chandrasekhar said.

Info Edge founder Sanjeev Bikhchandani earlier on Saturday took to his official X account and said, “Many of the Info Edge apps are back on the play store. An effort very well led by (company MD and CEO) Hitesh and the entire Info Edge team. People were up all night for this. Great crisis management.” WIONews

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