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RIP Arun Jaitley: From Powering Digital India To Investing In AI, The Former FinMin Spearheaded Our Tech Transformation

RIP Arun Jaitley: From Powering Digital India To Investing In AI, The Former FinMin Spearheaded Our Tech Transformation

India under the regime of former finance minister and late Arun Jaitley saw one of the most fast-paced growth in usage and adoption of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, data science, data analytics and internet of things in the public as well as the private sector. Jaitley, who passed away on 24 August, spearheaded the swift adoption of emerging tech in the Indian tech sector, especially the thriving startup and SME ecosystem

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On the onset of his untimely demise, Analytics India Magazine is featuring the 9 instances where he showcased that as a finance minister and a politician, Jaitley was way ahead of his time regarding timely and swift adoption of technology.

  1. In an endeavour to be not left behind in the artificial intelligence race, Jaitley, during his tenure as the finance minister spearheaded the formation of a committee under the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog vice chairman Rajiv Kumar to lay out a roadmap for the country’s research and development in the field. Reportedly, the decision to form the committee came after news of China’s intense and growing commitment in the field of AI.
  2. Jaitley was one of the first cabinet members in a unique power to have doubled the allocation on Digital India program to ₹3,073 crore in 2018-19 during the last budget.
  3. He was a fierce champion of constant research and development in the tech industry. Jaitley had said last year, “Technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence and others are the technologies of the future and NITI Aayog will establish a national programme to conduct research and development in these areas.”
  4. Jaitley had also said that the NITI Ayog was to establish a national programme to direct the efforts in the area of artificial intelligence including research and development of its applications. “We would invest in research, training and skilling in robotics, artificial intelligence, digital manufacturing, big data analytics, quantum communications and others.”
  5. Jaitley also spearheaded the change in using technology to curb tax evasion. After setting up a new Analytics and Risk Management wing under the indirect taxes body, the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) was also renamed as Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC). Jaitley had said that the CBIC needed to fulfil a twin challenge of robust detection to avoid tax evasion as well as facilitation of trade. He had said, “The customs department has an important twin role to play. You have to have detection machinery in place so as to ensure that tax evasion does not take place, and at the same time be a trade facilitator which makes entry into borders easy.”
  6. Jaitley in the 2018-19 budget had announced the Prime Minister’s Research Fellows program for 1,000 undergraduate engineering students to enable them to pursue doctorates from leading IITs and IISc. This step was taken to intensify a culture of research among students and to improve India’s research output.
  7. The 2019-20 interim budget had also announced to make AI and other emerging technologies more accessible to the common people. To make this possible, a National Centre for AI announced to be established. The development of a national AI portal was also announced during the same.
  8. During this budge, the finance ministry also announced the creation of 1 lakh digital villages in India over the next five years.
  9. Through the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana, over 1 crore youth are being trained to help them earn a livelihood, said the 2019-20 interim budget. “Youth power has been harnessed through self-employment schemes including MUDRA, Startup India and Stand-up India… The government is proud of the hard work and innovative ideas of our youth.”

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