The move comes amid growing concerns among the domestic startup ecosystem around alleged monopoly risks posed by Big Tech companies — Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft — in controlling India’s burgeoning internet and digital economy.
The association comprises startup founders and chief executives such as Murugavel Janakiraman of Bharat Matrimony, Snehil Khanor of TrulyMadly, Ritesh Mallik of Innov8 Coworking, Sairee Chahal of SHEROES, Ajay Data of Data Group, Anand Lunia of India Quotient, Amit Sinha of Unnati and Shailesh Vikram Singh of Massive Fund, among others.
“On a mission to protect the freedom of choice in the Internet ecosystem, the country’s leading startup founders have come together to form Atmanirbhar Digital India Foundation (ADIF),” the association said in a statement. “This association is committed towards building an open, fair, neutral and self-reliant technology ecosystem that promotes a level playing field for Indian companies.”
ET reported in September about the formation of an industry grouping including several startup founders to “self-regulate” the Indian internet ecosystem.
The group originally banded together in the aftermath of Google’s controversial move to debar the country’s largest fintech player, Paytm, from its Play Store, citing violation of its anti-gambling rules.
The chorus against Google on enforcement of “anti-competitive” rules for domestic internet companies gained further traction when the US-based internet giant announced that it would charge Indian businesses selling digital goods through Play Store apps a 30% commission, in line with its global billing policy.
Google had initially set the date of enforcement of the new policy from October this year, but later postponed it to April 2022.
To be sure, governments and regulators around the world are in the process of regulating big internet companies in matters of governance and internet neutrality.
“Our aim is to represent Indian technology companies to help them in building a sustainable and conducive business environment,” said Ajay Data, Secretary General – ADIF. “We believe it’s high time all Indian technology companies come together to safeguard the larger interests of the sector and work towards creating a level playing field.”
The association’s objectives include being the representative body of the startup ecosystem in voicing their concerns to the government and regulatory bodies, and playing a role in shaping policy framework for the sector.
“To promote diverse yet inclusive participation, ADIF will 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,” it said.
The industry body will 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,” it added.