India’s ambitious project, Mission AI, may soon be a reality as the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) has received a go-ahead to implement its five-year program, as per reports. The government aims to provide access to high-class artificial intelligence tools and skills training for youth to make them future-ready.
Training The Future Workforce
For this project, MeitY will be working closely with Niti Aayog, India’s public think tank. Notably, last year, a committee headed by the principal scientific advisor to the prime minister, K Vijayraghavan was set up to build a road map to decide the implementation of this mission.
Last year, a budget of Rs 7,000 crore was also put forward by Niti Aayog to set up five centres of research excellence along with 20 institutional centres for transformational AI and cloud computing platform called AIRAWAT. On the other hand, MeitY also proposed a Rs 400 crore worth plan for setting up a national AI program. As per the latest developments, both entities would work together to implement this mission program, and a fresh proposal drafting is underway.
Reportedly, premium institutes such as IIT will be involved in the research apart from incorporating industry inputs and collaborations. The government-run centres of excellence in AI, augmented reality, fintech, and agritech will all be subsumed under this mission.
Last year, while speaking about Mission AI in a conference, Union Minister for Electronics and IT, Ravi Shankar Prasad had said, “We are very sure that India’s AI ecosystem is going to promote a large pool of skilled professionals who will be there to manage India’s AI ecosystem and also the world.”
Other Government Initiatives For AI Training
The government has been actively pushing for AI-based training to bring future-readiness for the youth. One such initiative is the ‘Responsible AI for Youth’ program for students studying in classes 8-12 in central and state government schools. Launched to reduce the skill gap in students and make them ‘AI-ready’, this program will select eligible students based on online training sessions.
Under this program, students will be taught to identify AI-based ideas and innovations that could impact social issues. 100 top ideas will be shortlisted, and these students will also get a chance to enrol in boot camps and special sessions for a deeper understanding of AI. This program is also closely tied with the National Education Policy that was rolled out this year.
In another initiative for working professionals and fresh graduates, the government had launched the ai.gov.in, India’s national artificial intelligence portal, this year. This is a repository of AI-related developments in India, including information on startups, innovations, companies, education institutions related to AI in India along with related case studies, study material, and research reports.
The government is also in the process of setting up its first AI-specific cloud computing infrastructure AIRAWAT based on the recommendation of the National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence (NSAI). This platform will accelerate and enhance research in the new and emerging technologies, specifically in the field of AI.
With AIRAWAT, the government intends to deal with high-impact challenges that accompany a lack of access to computing resources. According to an approach paper on AIRAWAT, authored by Anna Roy, Senior Adviser, NITI Aayog, this month in January, detailed the need for an AI-explicit infrastructure. It includes: multi-user compute support, dynamic computing environment, ML/DL software stack, low latency-high bandwidth network, among others.
Over the last few years, India has been intensifying its push for an AI-enabled future, of which training and upskilling forms a large part. A lot of these initiatives, as mentioned above, have started to take shape finally.