Against the backdrop of banning 59 Chinese apps and the government's flagship motto to create a self-reliant India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the launch of the "Aatmanirbhar Bharat" (self-reliant India) App Innovation Challenge.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 4, 2020
The challenge, which is led by the Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology in partnership with NITI Ayog - the Indian government's policy "think tank", aims to identify the best Indian apps in use and those capable of becoming world-class apps in their respective categories.
"This Innovation Challenge.... seeks to create an ecosystem where Indian entrepreneurs and Startups are incentivised to ideate, incubate, build, nurture and sustain Tech solutions that can serve not only citizens within India but also the world", the government's portal said in a statement.
The competition, which also includes cash rewards for the winners, has been launched in eight categories that include social networking, e-learning, news, games, and entertainment. While the final date for entries is 18 July, the results of the challenge will be announced on 7 August.
The Indian government on 29 June banned dozens of apps, including popular ones, under the Information and Technology Act. The decision came in response to the border clashes between India and China in the former's Ladakh region on 15 June. The government justified the ban, stating that the apps were "engaged in activities which are prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India".
Last month, while emphasising that the pandemic has taught Indians the importance of self-reliance, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged people to go "Vocal for Local" and endorse local products in order to make the country self-reliant.
"The existing global brands today were once local, too. But they became global with gradual support from people. That is why from today, every Indian must become vocal for local", the prime minister said in during his national address.
Recently, India's Reliance Industries led by billionaire tycoon Mukesh Ambani launched an unlimited free conferencing app called "JioMeet" in competition with the Zoom app. The application is available for Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, and the web.
Similarly, soon after China's short video-making app TikTok was banned, India's domestic counterpart Chingari, which has similar features, hit five million subscribers on 1 July, up from 2.5 million users on 28 June.