The Government’s Plan: A Catalyst for Transforming India’s AI Sector

By Srikanth
7 Min Read
The Government's Plan: A Catalyst for Transforming India's AI Sector 1

India is on the brink of a technological revolution, set to elevate its global position and lead artificial intelligence (AI) innovation. The government’s INR 10,372 crores1 India Artificial Intelligence Mission is more than just a policy decision: it’s a bold statement of intent. The five-year plan is set to democratise data access, support innovative startups, build essential infrastructure and foster an environment of collaboration between various stakeholders, all while positioning India as a global AI leader. 

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Democratising access to data 

Central to India’s AI strategy is the democratisation of data access. It dismantles barriers and ensures high-quality data reaches a wider range of stakeholders, fostering innovation across diverse sectors, such as agriculture, healthcare, finance and manufacturing. The aim here is to build a sovereign AI ecosystem and the government has emphasised structured guidelines and principles that ensure responsible data handling through clear regulations around ownership, privacy and security. 

The cornerstone of this approach is the India AI Datasets platform, a centralised repository offering seamless access to non-personal datasets critical for AI development. It would also include developing a robust framework for data accessibility, which would prioritise data ownership and user privacy to ensure trust within the ecosystem. This also ensures data quality and standardisation, allowing researchers to utilise data effectively and robust security measures to safeguard sensitive data.  

The creation of a unified data repository offers numerous advantages, such as reduced costs and time for data acquisition, improved collaboration within the AI ecosystem and increased data transparency. Existing initiatives like Ayushman Bharat (national health insurance) and unified portal for agriculture2 (UPAg) serve as successful examples as anonymised data from Ayushman Bharat can be used to develop AI solutions for healthcare and UPAg data can empower researchers to create AI tools for precision agriculture. 

Building the computing capacity  

When globally computational resources get expensive and scarce, the Indian government’s investment in building computing capabilities would be a game-changer. The creation of a high-end, scalable AI computing ecosystem under the India AI Compute Capacity pillar will cater to the increasing demands of India’s rapidly expanding AI startups and research community by providing access to 10,000 or more Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) through public-private partnerships. The initiative can significantly lower the cost of computing resources, accelerating the development and deployment of AI technologies across various sectors. The initiative would support early-stage and mid-stage companies that require substantial computational power to scale their AI solutions. 

An AI marketplace will be created to offer AI as a service and pre-trained models to AI innovators. This marketplace will act as a one-stop solution for resources critical for AI innovation, significantly lowering the barriers to entry for startups and researchers.  

Offering funding support for AI startups 

The Indian government recognises the critical role of startups in driving AI innovation. To propel these young ventures and fuel their groundbreaking ideas, the government has earmarked INR 2,000 crores3 specifically for funding and supporting AI-related startups, especially at the seed stage, as private investors are often hesitant to take risks on nascent technologies despite their high potential. These funds provide a financial safety net, allowing startups to focus on developing groundbreaking AI solutions without immediate financial pressures. By offering streamlined access to funding, the government can empower startups to pursue ambitious projects that have the potential to disrupt industries and drive economic growth. 

Building a skilled workforce 

India has the second-largest AI talent base in the world, with 420,0004 professionals working in AI-related roles. The reflects the country’s commitment to building a skilled workforce. India has three times more AI talent than other nations. This growth has also created a significant demand for even more AI professionals, highlighting the need to address skill gaps.  

The government has launched several initiatives under the AI Mission of India such as The India AI Future Skills initiative, which addresses barriers to entry into AI programs by increasing the availability of AI courses at undergraduate, master’s, and Ph.D. levels. The Data and AI Labs that are being established in tier 2 and 3 cities will provide foundational courses, ensuring that the benefits of AI education reach a broader population. 

These efforts are designed to ensure that India’s workforce is well-equipped to meet the growing domestic demand for AI expertise. By investing in AI education and training, India is enhancing its reputation as a premier source of AI professionals worldwide. 

Enhancing India AI’s global presence  

India’s AI ambitions extend beyond just domestic development. The government adopted a multi-pronged approach which includes increased FDI caps, and automatic approval routes for projects. It includes boosting brand visibility on the international stage by aiding the startups participating in major conferences and promoting their work. The outlook for the Indian AI industry to attract foreign investments and collaborations is immense and is expected to reach USD 17 billion by 2027, suggests a NASSCOM report.  

As digital transformation becomes the norm across enterprises, a surge in demand for AI solutions can be expected. It presents a compelling opportunity but also necessitates significant infrastructure and support system upgrades for startups to meet that demand.  

By positioning itself as a global AI leader, India is not just fostering domestic development but also enhancing its attractiveness for foreign investments and collaborations. The government’s multi-faceted approach, which includes increased FDI caps and support for international visibility, is set to drive significant growth in the AI industry. 

India’s five-year AI plan is a bold and strategic initiative that promises to transform the nation’s AI landscape, positioning it as a global powerhouse in AI. This plan not only addresses current challenges but also lays a strong foundation for future innovation and economic growth. 

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