NASSCOM, India’s premier IT governance body, has launched its annual report on artificial intelligence, titled ‘Unlocking Value from Data and AI: The India Opportunity’. The report was launched by union telecom and IT minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, who took the opportunity to highlight how digital endeavours by the Indian government have helped the country in various ways through the Covid-19 pandemic. The report was also briefed by Noshir Kaka, senior partner and global analytics leader of McKinsey & Co., who touched upon key aspects of the AI report in terms of the scale at which AI can impact the growth of India’s economy.
Touching upon the key points of the report, Kaka’s presentation revealed how the use of AI in a critical sector such as agriculture can improve farming yields. For instance, advanced technologies can predict crop failures, analyse weather and help in planning efficient production processes, which the report claims can double the earnings for farmers in India. Using AI in the energy sector can help predict energy demand and rationalise the utilisation of energy assets, which the report states can lead to 150GW of renewable energy capacity, and simultaneously reduce India’s load and reliance on conventional energy resources.
NASSCOM’s AI report 2020 further states that other key benefits of AI include areas such as optimising logistics through traffic analysis, streamlining lending and financial services through data-based risk analysis, remote diagnostics and resource allocation in critical healthcare conditions, and cost and marketplace analysis to help promote MSMEs – all of which, the report states, is earmarked to contribute close to $500 billion (Rs 37.32 lakh crore) to the Indian economy by 2025.
Alongside contributing to the growth of the Indian economy, the NASSCOM report states that AI in India can also be used by government-driven initiatives for social use cases such as water conservation and management programmes, pollution and air quality control, reducing road fatalities, as well as stronger promotion and support of small businesses. The report finally touches upon key initiatives that should be taken by the Indian government, including building an AI strategy to promote a common vision for the future. The report also details the need for India to better study generated data sets and put forth data governance policies. Additionally, India also needs to create a full technology stack to store, analyse and utilise all the data generated in the country, alongside establishing a national AI programme, define set roles and designations in the AI scheme of things, and also set up an independent AI governing body that can further contribute to the progress of AI in India.
Speaking at the launch of the report, union minister Prasad said, “The cliche of data being the new oil is a right cliche, and India must become the refinery for processing, using and utilising data.” He touched upon how India has successfully used a host of digital platforms and services through the Covid-19 lockdown phase, including services such as digital finances. “In the immediate future, we will pay heed to PM Narendra Modi’s call to connect over 6 lakh villages in India with optic fiber to bring connectivity to fringe areas within 1,000 days, which signifies massive opportunities for various services.”
Following the launch of the report, NASSCOM is also set to host an AI summit – the NASSCOM Xperience AI – from September 1 to 4. The summit will bring together government officials and industry players to talk about building on the key areas that NASSCOM’s report today highlighted.