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Indian Government reveals initiatives in AI, cyber-physical systems and 5G technologies

The Indian Government has revealed a number of initiatives for the development of emerging technologies in the country.  

India’s Finance Minister (FM), Mr. Arun Jaitley, noted in his Budget 2018-19 speech that the global economy is transforming into a digital economy due to the development of cutting edge digital technologies in areas such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, internet of things (IoT), 3D printing etc.

He highlighted initiatives such as Start Up India and Make in India, which together with Digital India are expected to help India establish itself as a knowledge and digital society. The Government has doubled the allocation for the Digital India programme to Rs. 30.7 billion (USD 408 million) for 2018-19.  

The NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India), the premier policy thinktank of the Government of India, will initiate a national programme to direct efforts in the area of artificial intelligence, including research and development of its applications.

(In August 2017, the Ministry of Commerce & Industry constituted a Task Force on Artificial Intelligence for India’s Economic Transformation, to submit concrete and implementable recommendations for government, industry and research institutions. The Task Force launched a website in September 2017, soliciting suggestions and opinions from the public and industry.)

To harness the benefits of ‘Fifth Generation’ (5G) technologies and its adoption, the Department of Telecom will support establishment of an indigenous 5G Test Bed at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Chennai.

Another area of focus is the combination of cyber and physical systems. The Department of Science & Technology will launch a Mission on Cyber-Physical Systems to support establishment of centres of excellence and to invest in research, training and skilling in robotics, artificial intelligence, digital manufacturing, big data analysis, quantum communication and IoT.

The Government will explore the use of distributed ledger or blockchain technology proactively for ushering in the digital economy. However, the FM cautioned that the Government does not consider crypto-currencies legal tender or coin and will take measures to eliminate use of these crypto-assets in financing illegitimate activities or as part of the payment system.

The Government expects the use of FinTech in the financing space to help the growth of MSMEs (Micro, small and medium enterprises). A group in the Ministry of Finance is examining policy and institutional development measures needed for creating right environment for Fintech companies to grow in India.

Featured image: Shahnoor Habib Munmun/ CC BY 3.0

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