Critical Review of the ORF Issue Brief on "Indigenous Technology as a Strategic Moat for India"

Neeraja Seshadri,

Research Intern,

Indian Society of Artificial Intelligence and Law.


Technology has a significant role in the socio-economic growth of a country and many countries have adopted various measures to improve the technology. The author of the Issue Brief for August 2020, Issue 390 for the Observer Research Foundation on “Indigenous Technology as a Strategic Moat for India” primarily deals with the necessity and importance of developing indigenous technologies in India in the post-COVID phase to allow Indian citizens to compete on all fronts on a global level.

The author recognizes three objectives for prioritizing technology namely: for governance and relief response delivery, enhancing private sector capabilities, and unlocking future opportunities. Further, there is an analysis made of various digital programs in India which proves to be beneficial for growth. India Stack is one of the platforms which is used for finance and business. This platform has allowed UPI services among others which have played a very important role during the pandemic. There are also other programs like JAM trinity, Jan Dhan and Aadhar to name a few are the vast databases created. Through these platforms schemes like Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana and the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana are reaching people in a more efficient manner through Direct Benefit Transfer.

Direct Benefit Transfer has proved to be beneficial as it eliminates leaks in the subsidy system which amounts to 1 per cent of GDP. This has created an atmosphere of transparency and accountability. India’s contact tracing app Arogya Setu has also received significant attention owing to its reach to over 1,40,000 people. This has been viewed as a positive step in government-citizen participation. The proposed Bharath Health Stack is also a welcome one due to the lack of any platform currently for inter-hospital and hospital-government information exchange.

The author further observes that there is growth in the garment industry and medical research owing to the social state of affairs due to COVID19. There is an emphasis on the importance of payment gateways like Phonepay, Paytm and Open which are India based. The author also deals with health care apps like Dozee which allows for monitoring patients distantly. Telemedicine and e-consultation are also gaining relevance due to a shift to digital transactions. India also has an opportunity to excel in the field of production of diagnostic kits

The author then moves on to talk about prospective areas where India can excel. She deals with the relevance of urban mobility due to increasing environmental concerns and lack of fuel. Agri Technology also has a lot of relevance owing to the fact that India still has a lot of people dependant on agriculture as a source of Income and the Indian economy is also dependant on this sector. Cloud infrastructure also has a lot of scopes owing to the current state of affairs with a majority of countries not relying on China. Other Areas include Education Tech, Government-business interfaces and skill development. The author concludes on the note that the development of technologies is extremely important which can be achieved through public-private participation.

Artificial Intelligence can be used in many of the sectors as recognized by the author. Artificial intelligence can be used in the field of education to tailor relevant material and content for each student depending on their ability to grasp and comprehend content.

Based on their skills and interests, the technology can also be used to allow enhancement of knowledge in a specific field which would allow for specialized individuals who have had exposure from the beginning. AI can also be used for monitoring examinations which would prove to be a revolutionary step in the education sector. In the Agri Sector, new initiatives can be taken using the technology for determination of timeframes for the maturity of crops and detection of pests. In the health care sector, Generative Adversarial Training can be used in order to detect diseases and tumours. AI can also be used in law enforcement for the prediction of the behavior of repeat offenders. The government of India has already started indigenization of AI in the agricultural sector by entering into an MOU with Microsoft. It has included far advisory services and also provided mechanisms for using AI in Primary Health Sectors. Microsoft has also started proving STEM education in areas of AI studies in NITI Aayog approved centres.[1]

The Government has also started working on indigenization of AI in the Indian defence sector. In February 2018, a multi-stakeholder task force on Strategic Implementation of Artificial Intelligence for National Security and Defence was constituted by the Ministry of Defence. The task Force primarily evaluated how AI can be embraced in the defence sector by Defence Public Sector Undertakings.[2] The Indian Navy is also coming up with strategies to use AI in Unmanned Underwater Vehicles, computation and automation.[3] The Make in India initiative is also implemented with the intention of indigenization of technology in India and this includes AI.[4] In order to introduce and develop AI applications and development in India, even the new National Education Policy has allowed for the incorporation of coding subjects which would introduce the basic concepts of Artificial Intelligence among students. [5] This can be viewed as an initiative to create an atmosphere for choosing AI research as a prospective career among students. India’s Defence Ministry also recently introduced “Import Embargo” on 101 items to boost Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.[6] This proves to be a beneficial step to allow space for indigenization of defence technology in AI.

References

[1]‘Microsoft India signs pact with NITI Aayog for AI tools in agriculture, healthcare’ (Civis Daily, 15 October 2018) <https://www.civilsdaily.com/news/microsoft-india-signs-pact-with-niti-aayog-for-ai-tools-in-agriculture-healthcare/> accessed 7 August 2020 [2] Debajit Sarkar, ‘Growing use of Artificial Intelligence in Defence opens opportunities for the Indian tech sector’ (Financial Express, 24 April 2019) <https://www.financialexpress.com/defence/growing-use-of-artificial-intelligence-in-defence-opens-opportunities-for-the-indian-tech-sector/1557851/> accessed 7 August 2020 [3] Directorate of Indigenisation, ‘Indian Naval Indigenisation Plan’ <https://ddpmod.gov.in/sites/default/files/INIP%20(2015-2030).pdf> accessed 7 August 2020 [4] Ash Rossiter & Brendon J. Cannon (2019) Making arms in India? Examining New Delhi’s renewed drive for defence-industrial indigenization, 19(4) Defense Studies 353. [5] Bharat Upadhyaya, ‘NEP to boost maths, engineering, S&T in India’ (Financial Express, 9 August 2020) <https://indianarrative.com/india/nep-to-boost-maths-engineering-st-in-india-8852.html> accessed 9 August 2020 [6] Paayel, ‘India’s Defence Ministry introduces “Import Embargo” on 101 items to boost Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ (Inventiva, 10 August 2020) <https://www.inventiva.co.in/stories/paayel/indias-defence-ministry-introduces-import-embargo-on-101-items-to-boost-atmanirbhar-bharat-abhiyan/> accessed 10 August 2020

 

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