India Plans Artificial Intelligence Push, Image credit Hans India

By Yogima Sharma – Economic Times

NEW DELHI, May 20, 2019 – The NITI Aayog has drawn up a plan for creating an institutional framework for artificial intelligence (AI) in the country. It has circulated a cabinet note to provide $1.075 billion (at US$1 = Rs. 69.75, amounting to Indian Rupees 7,500 crore, a numerical unit equal to 10 million) in funding for the creation of a cloud computing platform called AIRAWAT and research institutes.

A senior government official told Economic Times that the Aayog has already circulated the note for consideration by the Expenditure Finance Committee of the Indian Congress, which is expected to take it up soon.

The acronym NITI stands for National Institution for Transforming India, and aayog is a Hindu term for policy commission or think tank.

The note proposes that the new government pump in $1.075 billion initially over a three-year period and set up a high-level taskforce to oversee roll-out and implementation of AI, the official said on condition of anonymity. “A cabinet note is ready… We would present it to the new government as we want an institutional framework as well as a transparent policy in place for AI,” said the official. Results of the ongoing Indian national elections are expected to be broadcast later this week

The proposal entails investing in funding five institutes or centers of research excellence (CORE), 20 international centers for transformational AI (ICTAI) and setting up a cloud computing platform called AIRAWAT that can be accessed by anyone.

“Selection of institutes and partners will be done based on guidelines that are being developed, while the funding for all of this will be staggered based on the milestones achieved,” said the official.

The entire AI mission will be monitored by a task force, to be headed by a member of NITI Aayog with representation from all state governments, besides experts as its key members, according to the proposal.

NITI Aayog’s CEO Amitabh Kant has written to all states’ ministries (government administrative bodies) requesting them to identify key projects across the five identified sectors where AI can be adopted.

“To give a push to adoption of AI, it is pertinent to have an AI check in all new projects to identify specific areas where AI can be used,” Kant said in a letter dated May 7.

The government aims to position India as a trailblazer for emerging economies when it comes to AI and is confident that the technology can help address some of the key challenges in socioeconomic sectors such as agriculture, education, health, mobility, and urbanization.

It is estimated that AI has the potential to add $957 billion to India’s GDP by 2035 and boost India’s annual growth by 1.3 percentage points by then.

In the Union budget for 2018-19, the government had entrusted NITI Aayog with developing the national program on AI, following which the Aayog had in June last year released the national strategy for AI.

China has committed to build a domestic AI industry worth nearly $150 billion in the next few years, with an aim to become the leading AI power by 2030. China’s GDP was $13.4 trillion in 2018, second to the United States’ $20.5 trillion.



Published Sept 10, 2018 – In the lead up to India’s first Global Mobility Summit – #GMS2018, CEO of NITI Aayog, Mr. Amitabh Kant in an interactive discussion with Mr. Jaijit Bhattacharya at National Museum Auditorium, New Delhi, shared his vision for the Future of Mobility in India.