December 10, 2023

Syllabus: General Studies Paper 3


As artificial intelligence (AI) becomes ubiquitous, India has the potential to leverage these massive datasets to build frameworks to empower people, create equity and race towards its goal of $1 trillion of economic value using digital technologies by 2025.

The opportunity for AI-driven growth:

  • The use cases of AI in the Indian government include facial recognition and hotspot analysis, biometric identification, criminal investigation, traffic and crowd management, wearable’s to empower women safety, optimising revenues in the forest, cleaning rivers, tiger protection, digital agriculture, student progress monitoring and more.
  • Cutting energy losses: Energy is another key sector that can benefit from the wide-scale adoption of AI.
    • Currently, Delhi and Kolkata alone account for $36 million of annual loss in revenue from renewable energy losses across the country.
    • By using AI in the energy sector, renewable energy generators and Discoms can cut losses and increase efficiencies by better predicting grid load management, and ultimately making the adoption of renewables cost-effective.
  • Better management of power sector: With the use of AI, the Power Ministry’s Renewable Energy Management Centres (REMCs) will be able to provide enhanced renewable energy forecasting, scheduling, and monitoring capabilities by processing large datasets of past weather, generation output history, and electricity requirement in a region.
  • Digital transformation through AI can help governments in being more responsive to emerging trends and act accordingly. Within the government machinery, policymakers are moving forward with incorporating AI solutions for effective tax monitoring, data compliance etc.

While successfully narrowing down the digital divide, India now has an exceptional opportunity to harness the data being created to benefit citizens through the adoption of frontier technologies.

Government initiatives:

  • The government released the National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence (NSAI)in June 2018, which serves as a roadmap for the government to adopt artificial intelligence to increase efficiency in the delivery of services, collaborate with the private sector to enhance public sector potential, and develop capacities to embrace and deploy innovation.
  • In 2020, the Indian government increased the outlay for Digital India to $477 million to boost AI, IoT, big data, cybersecurity, machine learning and robotics.
  • The government also deregulated the geospatial sector allowing private players to bring state-of-the-art solutions to the sector, and spur innovation in AI-enabled hotspot mapping and analytics.
    • In India, this can lead to the transformation of various sectors such as infrastructure, health, and help in designing climate change resilient cities.
  • AI portal: Jointly developed by MeitY and NASSCOM in June 2020, the Indian government launched a dedicated artificial intelligence (AI) portal, India AI is slated as a central hub for everything.
    • A beginning has been made with India’s own AI-first compute infrastructure, AIRAWAT, which is a cloud platform for Big Data analytics with advanced AI processing capabilities.
    • The portal will act as a one-stop shop for all AI-related developments and initiatives in India.
  • The government has established the Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR), a laboratory of the DRDO, in 2014 for research and development in AI, robotics, command and control, networking, information and communication security
  • National Research Foundation: NRF, an autonomous body under the new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, has been established to boost research across segments, including AI.
  • Promoting AI in schools: The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) is preparing a new National Curriculum Framework for School Education in pursuance of the National Education Policy 2020. This will also aim at introducing a basic course on AI at the secondary level.

Challenges for AI Adoption in India:

  • Poor Data Quality: Data is the backbone of AI, hence easy availability of open-source data is crucial for any country to accelerate AI innovation and adoption. Apart from regulatory restrictions on data, data annotation and labelling are tedious but essential processes to provide useful datasets.
  • Lack of AI and Cloud Infrastructure: AI and cloud are inseparable because AI is data-hungry and the cloud is the only viable solution. However, despite the potential, India lacks access to specialized compute and storage facilities that form the backbone of AI.
  • Lack of AI Expertise and Investments: AI requires highly trained and skilled professionals, but being an emerging technology, the talent pool is limited. There are concerted efforts to be seen, in the form of NASSCOM’s FutureSkills Prime initiative, for instance, which aims to bridge the skilling gaps.
  • High implementation cost resists numerous organizations to implement AI solutions. For instance, transforming a manufacturing plant from manual operation to automated operation would require high capital investment to integrate IIoT and other components of industry 4.0.
  • Unethical  Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning solutions: With the advent of AI products and algorithms and their increasing role in decision making, ethics and morality have emerged as a major challenge for AI solution providers.
    • An AI algorithm works based on training given to it, meaning the AI solution predicts instances based on the data being fed into it and based on the self-learning capability.
    • However, in a few instances, the AI algorithm overlooks the correctness of the data and gives an ambiguous result. It is also possible for the results to be skewed due to tampering with the dataset itself.
  • Privacy and Cybersecurity issues: AI solutions build on ML and DL are based on a huge volume of confidential data, which are often sensitive and personal in nature.
    • Along with automation, AI also brings a range of security and privacy vulnerabilities, which can subsequently exacerbate any organization’s exposure to cyber risk and geopolitical risk.
    • However, India is moving in the right direction with the personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, and the National Cyber Security Strategy, 2020.

Way forward:

  • Sensitisation and capacity-building within the government: Initiatives like RAISE 2020, Digital India Dialogue and AI Pe Charcha have commenced a much-needed discourse on ‘AI for good’, covering aspects of evolving technologies and their policy implications.
    • To channelise the promise of AI, it would be prudent to create an enabling environment that seeks to promote AI innovations in India while effectively governing them to prevent public harm.
  • We must create enabling environments in schools through multidisciplinary approaches with AI at their core to empower the next generation to play an essential role in designing practical AI solutions for India and in India.
    • MeitY’s ‘Responsible AI for Youth’has incentivised youth participation through a platform for exposure on a tech mindset, and digital readiness.
  • Data privacy regime: Standardising the rules will help expand markets for positive AI-driven goods and services.
    • Robust public-private partnerships and collaborations, wherein the government creates an underlying public architecture as a ‘Digital Public Good’on which private players build applications, must be encouraged.
  • The upcoming National Programme for AI is a step in this direction building upon existing partnerships and increasing governmental capacity in supporting AI innovations and research for public sector adoption.
  • Public-private ties: It is essential for the myriad stakeholders including innovators, policymakers, academicians, industry experts, philanthropic foundations, multilateral and civil society to collaborate to help steer AI’s future towards benevolent purposes.
    • An initiative, Future Skills Prime, has exhibited the strength of public-private partnership by aggregating digital-ready courses for consumers across citizens, government employees and businesses.

Through its technological prowess and abundance of data, India can lead the way in thriving through Artificial Intelligence solutions, contributing to inclusive development and social empowerment.

The Hindu Link:

Question: Discuss the potential application of artificial intelligence. Also mention, steps taken by the government to promote artificial intelligence in India.

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