2023: The Year of AI Innovation in India

In complementing the ‘National Program on AI,’ the ‘IndiaAI’ initiative has been established to address specific gaps in the AI ecosystem comprehensively.

By Sanhita Chauriha, 21 Oct 2023

AI: A Driving Force for Economic Transformation

AI is poised to become the driving force propelling India’s digital economy, revolutionising governance, and fostering robust economic growth. Projections suggest that AI will contribute an astounding $967 billion to the Indian economy by 2035 and $450–$500 billion to India’s GDP by 2025, constituting 10% of the nation’s ambitious $5 trillion GDP target. With these immense economic implications, AI has taken centre stage on policy agendas worldwide, as it holds the potential to ignite innovation, create employment opportunities, and fuel the nation’s comprehensive development.

Government Initiatives for Inclusive AI Adoption

In recent years, the Government of India has taken concrete steps to promote the responsible adoption of AI and to establish public trust in its use, making “AI for All” a central tenet. The government has introduced favourable policies and ongoing interventions to harness AI’s potential for social development and inclusive growth, aligning with the inclusive development philosophy of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, and Sabka Prayas” advocated by the Hon’ble Prime Minister.

Source: PIB

MeitY’s National Program on AI and the IndiaAI Initiative

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has launched the ‘National Program on AI,’ comprising four major components: the Data Management Office, which focuses on managing the vast data required for AI applications and research; the National Centre for AI, dedicated to AI research and development and the promotion of AI technologies; Skilling on AI, aimed at preparing a skilled workforce capable of meeting AI’s demands; and Responsible AI, ensuring ethical and responsible AI implementation.

In complementing the ‘National Program on AI,’ the ‘IndiaAI’ initiative has been established to address specific gaps in the AI ecosystem comprehensively. As one of the largest economies in the Global South leading the AI race, India has been nominated as the Council Chair of the Global Partnership on AI (GPAI).

The IndiaAI initiative adopts a mission-centric approach to bridge gaps in the existing AI ecosystem. It focuses on various pillars, including Compute infrastructure, Data, AI financing, Research and Innovation, skilling, and institutional capacity for Data to maximise AI’s potential in advancing India’s progress. MeitY has organised seven working groups to brainstorm the vision, objectives, outcomes, and design for each of these IndiaAI pillars.

These seven working groups associated with MeitY have submitted the inaugural IndiaAI report, officially presented to Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Union Minister of State for Skill Development & Entrepreneurship and Electronics & IT. The IndiaAI program aims to catalyse startups, support the entrepreneurship ecosystem, establish the India Datasets Platform, create the India AI Compute Platform through public-private partnerships, and foster AI chip development in collaboration with the Semicon India program. The report outlines operational aspects, demographic advantages, AI computational infrastructure enhancement, and recommendations for the Design Linked Incentive Scheme. Minister Chandrasekhar also announced the inaugural Global India AI Summit in December 2023, emphasising the transformative potential of AI for India’s economic progress.

Let’s delve into the specifics of these seven working groups:

Working Group 1: IndiaAI Centres of Excellence

This group aims to establish three Centres of Excellence (CoEs) dedicated to foundational research in AI and the development and adoption of indigenous AI technologies. These CoEs will bring together experts from academia, industry, and research entities to work on cutting-edge research, create high-quality AI solutions, and cultivate a culture of creativity, experimentation, and entrepreneurship in India. Key features of the CoEs include foundational research, global knowledge exchange, training and development opportunities, the development of an industry-academia-startup ecosystem, and scaling innovative solutions for national critical sectors.

Working Group 2: India Dataset Platform (IDP)

This group conceptualises the architecture of the India Dataset Platform (IDP) and Datasets Program. The IDP is designed as a federal structure to accommodate data providers from various ministries and departments, facilitating data discovery, value-added services, and a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) architecture. The working group emphasises clear governance, onboarding data providers, data standards, data security and privacy measures, and the development of data governance and access control.

Working Group 3: Institutional Capacity and Design of NDMO

This group aligns with the draft National Data Governance Policy to institutionalise the National Data Management Office (NDMO) and provide governance and structure recommendations. It outlines the functions of the NDMO and proposes the establishment of Data Management Units (DMUs) within each Ministry/Department. Key areas of focus include institutionalising NDMO, defining the governance and structure of NDMO, outlining the functions of NDMO, and establishing Data Management Units (DMUs).

Working Group 4: IndiaAI Future Design

The objective of this group is to assess and design funding mechanisms for AI startups to enhance AI innovation in India. The scheme aims to empower AI startups, develop and utilise the available R&D ecosystem, establish a funding mechanism for promising AI startups, enable access to state-of-the-art AI infrastructure through CoEs, initiate collaboration with various stakeholders, and support early-stage startups for commercialisation and growth.

Working Group 5: IndiaAI Future Skills

This group has reviewed AI-based curricula globally and emphasises an AI Research-based model curriculum framework for K12 and graduate/postgraduate levels. Key recommendations cover model curriculum and repository, a framework for technology-specific, infrastructure-specific, and application-specific courses, collaborative and competitive ecosystem building, research for startups and MSMEs, research fellowships, faculty training in AI, career path mapping, and creating an India-specific AI community.

Working Group 6: IndiaAI Future Labs Compute

It provides an overview of AI computational resources and their limitations in India, along with recommendations for infrastructure and compute capacity, AI use cases, evaluation and impact measurement, marketplaces, open-source AI, AI membership subscription and repository, security challenges, API management, capacity building, and collaboration. The recommendations aim to intensify AI compute capacity, promote AI adoption in governance and various sectors, ensure effective impact measurement, foster collaboration, and address security and UI challenges.

Working Group 7: Semicon IndiaAI Chipsets

This group aims to conceptualise the design for AI computing and assess technical requirements, scalability, flexibility, and pricing models for semiconductor designs for AI. The FutureDesign Design Linked Incentive (DLI) Scheme intends to offer financial incentives and design infrastructure support to domestic companies, startups, and MSMEs involved in semiconductor design. The objectives include promoting innovation, fostering inclusion, and supporting the growth of AI startups in India.

These recommendations are intended to harness the potential of AI for social development and inclusive growth, aligned with the philosophy of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, and Sabka Prayas.” The holistic approach of the IndiaAI initiative ensures that AI benefits every citizen and sector, making it accessible and beneficial to all.

Bottom Line: AI innovation in India is on the rise, with a comprehensive strategy in place to ensure that it benefits the nation as a whole.

(Sanhita works in the Applied Law and Technology Vertical of Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy.)