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Written by Manish Singh

Netflix’s latest effort to make inroads in India: Support for Hindi

Only about 10% of India’s 1.3 billion people know English. Yet, scores of firms operating in the country offer their services only in English in the country. Netflix, one such company, said on Friday it’s aiming to break through that language barrier.

The American on-demand video streaming giant today rolled out support for Hindi, a language spoken by nearby half a billion people in India, across its platform From sign up to search rows, to collections and synopsis and payment, Hindi language is available on Netflix across all devices, the company said.

“Delivering a great Netflix experience is as important to us as creating great content. We believe the new user interface will make Netflix even more accessible and better suit members who prefer Hindi,” said Monika Shergill, VP-Content at Netflix India, in a statement.

Netflix’s global competitors, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ Hotstar also support Hindi language, though the latter has deployed Hindi in limited capacity (not for a movie or show’s synopsis, for instance).

More to follow…

Google to roll out its digital learning platform to 23 million students and teachers in India’s Maharashtra state

Google has partnered with one of the largest states in India to provide its digital classroom services to tens of millions of students and teachers, the search giant said today, as it makes further education push in the world’s second largest internet market.

The company, which recently announced plans to invest $10 billion in India, said it had partnered with the government of western state of Maharashtra that will see 23 million students and teachers access Google’s education offering at no charge.

Thursday’s announcement follows a recent survey by the Maharashtra government in which it had sought teachers’ interest in digital classroom alternatives. More than 150,000 teachers signed up for the program in less than 48 hours, Google said.

Maharashtra is the worst hit Indian state by Covid-19, with more than 460,000 confirmed cases. The state, like others in India, complied with New Delhi’s lockdown order in late March that prompted schools and other public places to close across the nation.

“All of us had questions regarding the future of education. We have come to a step closer to answering these questions due to the pandemic,” said Uddhav Thackeray, Chief Minister of Maharashtra, in a statement.

Varsha Gaikwad, the education minister of Maharashtra, said the partnership with Google will help her department roll out tech solutions to students in about 190,000 schools.

“Our goal is to make Maharashtra the most progressive state in education by making effective use of online resources, platforms, bandwidth and technology, using the power of the Internet to reach out to the masses and bridge the gap in education,” she said.

The pandemic, which has brought several sectors to their knees in the country, has accelerated the growth of startups that operate digital learning platforms in the country. Byju’s, Facebook -backed Unacademy, Vedantu, and Toppr among other startups have amassed tens of millions of new students since March this year.

Google is providing students and teachers with a range of services including G Suite for Education, Google Forms for conducting quizzes and tests, and access to Google Meet video conferencing service, and Google Classroom that enables educators to create, review, and organize assignments, as well as communicate directly with students.

The company said it has also made Teach from Anywhere, a hub for educators, in Marathi, a very popular language in the state of Maharashtra.

“Our teachers and schools have the huge responsibility in shaping the future of our new generation, and we continue to be honored to play a role in offering digital tools that can enable more teachers to help even more students stay firmly on their journey of learning, during these times and beyond,” wrote Sanjay Gupta, Country Head and Vice President of Google India, in a blogpost.

The company has rushed to work with educators in India in recent months. Last month, Google announced that it had partnered with the Central Board of Secondary Education, a government body that oversees education in private and public schools in India, to provide its education offerings to more than 1 million teachers across 22,000 schools in India.

It also unveiled a grant of $1 million to Kaivalya Education Foundation (KEF), a foundation in India that works with partners to provide underprivileged children with education opportunities, from Google.org, Google’s philanthropic arm.

Google’s global rival, Facebook, also partnered with CBSE last month to launch a certified curriculum on digital safety and online well-being, and augmented reality for students and educators in the country.

India’s Byju’s acquires WhiteHat Jr. for $300 million

Byju’s has acquired edtech startup WhiteHat Jr. for $300 million as the Indian online learning giant looks to expand its dominant reach in the country.

The all-cash deal makes 18-month-old Mumbai-headquartered WhiteHat Jr., which offers online coding classes to school-going students, the fastest exit story of this size in Indian startup ecosystem.

WhiteHat Jr., which had raised about $11 million from Omidyar Network and Nexus Venture Partners, has achieved a revenue run rate of $150 million.

“We started WhiteHat Jr. to make kids creators instead of consumers of technology,” said Karan Bajaj, founder of WhiteHat Jr., in a statement. “Technology is at the centre of every human interaction today and we had set out to create a coding curriculum that was being delivered live and connected students and teachers like never before. Integration with a visionary company such as BYJU’S will help take this idea to new heights and help unleash the remarkable creative potential of kids at a global scale.”

“WhiteHat Jr is the leader in the live online coding space. Karan has proven his mettle as an exceptional founder and the credit goes to him and his team for creating coding programs that are loved by kids. Under his leadership the company has achieved phenomenal growth in India and the US in a short span of time.” said Byju Raveendran, founder and chief executive of Byju’s, in a statement.

More to follow…