Interim Budget 2019-20: India to bolster Artificial Intelligence industry for tech-driven society

By Digit NewsDesk | Updated 2 Feb 2019
Interim Budget 2019-20: India to bolster Artificial Intelligence industry for tech-driven society
  • Identifying nine priority areas, Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said that the government will soon develop a National Artificial Intelligence Portal to pass on the benefits of AI to citizens.

Highlights:

  • Government to establish National Artificial Intelligence Portal soon
  • Data consumption in India has risen by 50 times in last five years: FM
  • Placing an Indian astronaut in a space shuttle from India by 2022 is priority

 

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While presenting the Interim Budget 2019-20 in the Lok Sabha, Finance Minister Piyush Goyal identified nine priority areas for the tech-driven development in the country. The announcements made during the budget showed that the government has been banking on digital technologies like Artificial Intelligence to boost research, development and production. To actualise this ambition, Goyal announced that the government will develop a National Artificial Intelligence Portal soon.

The portal is aimed to pass on the benefits of the technology to citizens. “India has become the second largest startup hub of the world. We are proud of the hard work and innovative ideas of our youth in this sector. A national programme on AI has been envisaged by the Govt. This should be catalysed by the national centre for Artificial Intelligence as a hub, along with other centres of excellence,” Goyal said.

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Apart from talking about AI, the minister also said that India was leading the world in mobile data consumption and the consumption has risen by 50 times in last five years. According to Cisco’s 13th annual Visual Networking Index (VNI), smartphone and internet usage in India is set to massively swell in the next three years and by 2022, it is claimed that there will be 829 million smartphone users in India, accounting for 60% of the population.

The increase in smartphone users will fuel an uptick in internet traffic in the country estimating that by 2022 in India 646 petabytes (1,000 terabytes or 1 million gigabytes) of data per day will be consumed. This is over 490 percent higher than the 108 petabytes consumed in 2017. Goyal also said that the cost of data, voice calls in India is now possibly lowest in world. He also noted that the mobile and mobile part manufacturing companies have increased from 2 to 268, though there is no clarity on the time frame of this increase.

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“Mobile and its parts manufacturing companies have grown from 2 to 268 now, creating thousands of jobs in both urban and rural areas of the country,” Goyal said, adding that the government aims to have one lakh digital villages in the next five years. He also touched on the importance of introducing electric vehicles. “India will drive on electric-vehicles with clean sources of energy production and lead world in use of renewable sources to cut oil imports,” said the Minister.

Goyal also said that India had become the second largest hub of start-ups. “With job seekers becoming job creators. We are proud of the hard work and innovative ideas of our youth,” he added. The startup ecosystem saw over $10.5 billion worth of venture capital investments in 2018 in India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the Startup India initiative on August 15, 2015 while delivering his speech from Red Fort.

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Highlighting the importance of space programmes, Goyal talked about the Gaganyaan project, which aims at sending Indian astronauts to space. “Our seventh dimension is the aim to become launchpad of the world, placing an Indian astronaut in space by 2022: FM,” Goyal said. The minister also touched upon renewable energy and said that the government was committed to promoting renewable energy, and that it is determined in its initiative to set up the International Solar Alliance. Goyal claimed that the existing installed solar generation capacity had increased tenfold in last five years.

Industry speaks:

The budget presented today by Piyush Goyal was on expected lines and an attempt to drive much needed growth in the economy by providing special provisions for the less served communities including farmers, SMEs, women and senior citizens.

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In line with the vision for a digital India, budget 2019 focused on giving an impetus to technology integration and penetration. With the plan to convert 1 lakh villages into Digital Villages over next five years, introduce electronic tax return assessment in the next 2 years, comprehensive digitization for customs transactions and support for 3 lakh CSCs to render digital services.  The highlight of the budget was the announcement of the a National Center for Artificial Intelligence and the AI portal. This will play a key role for India to accelerate AI development and adoption to the last mile. We look forward to partner with the government for this key initiative.  

While, the finance minister focused on education, jobs, and start-ups, the industry’s key ask towards abolition of Angel tax, and various GST clarifications did not a find mention. We hope that these will be resolved through a due consultative process. Additionally, in line with the 10 dimensions of the Govt’s 2030 vision, we also believe that there must be a national initiative on reskilling to create future ready talent.

- NASSCOM

“We welcome the budget's impetus on revolutionizing the transportation and energy sectors with a holistic industry-wide focus on electric vehicles, energy storage, and renewable energy. This clean and green India initiative will secure and strengthen the economy by reducing our dependency on fossil fuels. We commend the government for its vision to make India a world leader in sustainable mobility. With such government support, 2019 could be the start of an era that witnesses rapid electrification of high utilization vehicles, i.e. shared mobility solutions such as public transit, commercial vehicles, three-wheelers, delivery services, etc.”

- Ola Mobility Institute

“This Union Budget reflects the Government's commitment to digitalisation as a right step to help India gain a rightful place on the global technology map. Being one of the leading manufacturers of storage & memory solutions, we believe this initiative of extending a strong digital infrastructure to villages will facilitate significant penetration of computing-capable devices, hence further fuelling the growth of Data centres, internet-of-things and profitability of businesses. The Government has also envisaged a national programme on 'Artificial Intelligence' which is a progressive step towards leveraging technologies in every sector of economy impacting the life of all citizens. As Kingston has already contributed towards enhancing the productivity of businesses, we are also looking forward to encouraging the Government’s vision of building an exceptional digital infrastructure for our nation till 2030. We see a great potential in the aim of achieving country’s growth by leveraging digital technologies as it will further encourage innumerable initiatives to promote digital literacy in the country, and millions of opportunities in this eco-system.”

- Vishal Parekh Marketing Director, Kingston Technology

"Today’s Budget clearly showcases the importance of a digital-first India and the government’s commitment to drive innovation and technology advancement in the country. With the government setting a target to become a $5 Trillion economy in the next 5 years, Intel believes that emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and 5G will play a crucial part in this vision. Firstly, the government’s focus on the rapid adoption of AI in India by announcing initiatives like the National Center for AI and a National AI Portal, is a step in the right direction to drive technology adoption in the country. At Intel, we have been working on various AI-led initiatives with the government and will continue to collaborate with the country in its digital transformation mission. Secondly, the Budget also pointed out the growth in the telecom sector; this definitely provides impetus towards building a strong 5G ready ecosystem in the country. Additionally, the government has set a goal to create 1 lakh digital villages in the next 5 years taking technology penetration to a new level, that can help build a truly digital India.” 

- Prakash Mallya, Vice President, Sales and Marketing Group, Intel

"The Budget acknowledges the pivotal role of digital technology in India’s evolution to a five-trillion dollar economy over the next five years. Budget proposals such as those on artificial intelligence, one lakh digital villages and the thrust on RFID usage will not only fuel entrepreneurship, but also unleash enormous job opportunities. In addition, with the continued momentum on digitizing transactions using Aadhaar and the need for real-time monitoring and evaluation of effectiveness and efficiency of various government schemes, the critical role of cyber security resilience and data protection towards fostering and inculcating trust cannot be over-emphasized. It would be desirable that the forthcoming full budget later this year mandates setting aside 10 percent of the technology layout of every government project exclusively towards cyber security, as per the recommendations of the NASSCOM Task Force. The ensuing consultations on data protection legislation should result in a comprehensive, forward-looking, world-class enactment that enables and empowers people and businesses to use technology with confidence."

- Deepak Maheshwari, Director - Government Affairs, India, Symantec

"The interim budget 2019 carries strong markers of the success of the digital revolution in India, further paving the way for India to emerge as the digital economy in times to come. As announced by the interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal, India presently leads the world in the consumption of mobile data, which has grown 50X in the last 5 years. Owing to Make in India, the number of mobile and parts manufacturing companies have also grown from a mere 2 to 268, creating enough jobs in the economy. The government further aims to support leading technologies like AI by developing a National Artificial Intelligence portal and has set its eyes on achieving one lakh digital villages in the next 5 years. This serves as a strong growth impetus, with the next wave of digitalization belonging to the hinterlands of India. Driven to transform mobile communication, we at UNISOC look forward to supporting manufacturing products that will enable this next wave of digital revolution in India."

- Neeraj Sharma, Country Head – UNISOC India (formerly Spreadtrum Communications)

“With India poised to become a $5 trillion economy in the next five years, we welcome the Government’s proposal of ensuring the growth of SME’s & rural India through initiatives such as promotion of digital villages. Additionally, through steps such as the establishment of a  national  centre  of  artificial  intelligence, the Government plans to skill India’s youth, through the adoption of new technologies such as AI, so that they can reach their full potential. As the technology landscape evolves rapidly, along with the infinite opportunities that it provides us, there are also a myriad of new challenges especially in terms of IT security and data protection. Even though Indian businesses (67%) were the highest hit by ransomware with an average impact cost of approximately USD 1.17mn and 2018 being the year of serious data breaches, there was very limited focus on IT security in the budget. That said, while we welcome the Governments proposed steps in strengthening the MSME & SME sectors that provide  employment to millions of  people, there still remains a pressing need for further investment in technology for data protection and IT Security, both from the Government and organization’s standpoint."

- Sunil Sharma, Managing Director Sales, India & SAARC, Sophos (Cybersecurity)

"As India is poised to become a USD 5 trillion economy in next five years, there is an immense opportunity for Indian organizations to develop and flourish. With the rapid proliferation of new age technologies such as internet of things, artificial intelligence and others, we welcome the Government’s keen focus on building a digitally vibrant India in the next few years. This will provide an opportunity for companies such as Syska to introduce IoT enabled products that are affordable in the Indian market and help in developing smart cities. Additionally, as energy efficient product & solutions are seeing increased adoption, we are pleased with the Government providing 143 crore LED bulbs to rural areas. This resonates with our mission of providing energy efficient LED lighting solutions that are ‘Made in India’ to every Indian household.”

- Rajesh Uttamchandani, Director, Syska Group (FMEG)

“The interim budget 2019 with its focus on the futuristic technology-- Artificial Intelligence is a heartening news. We are at the cusp of technological disruption, a national program with the portal on Artificial Intelligence will bring India on the global map and help build an ecosystem to fuel its ambition to become a world leader in AI in the coming years. We at The IET are particularly happy as we are aligned with government’s focus on new technologies and will extend our full support through continuous efforts from The IET IoT Panel.”

- Shekhar Sanyal, Director and Country Head of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).

“The focus on leveraging emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence to enable a positive impact on the lives of people is an encouraging step. Further, the expansion of rural industrialization using digital technologies, development of clusters encompassing the MSMEs, village industries and start-ups, will boost rural manufacturing, job creation and strengthen the overall economy."

- Sumeer Chandra, Managing Director, HP Inc. India

“The finance Minister today once again underscored the ‘Digital India’ impacting lives of every Indian. The investment proposed by the government in the field of Artificial intelligence and allied technologies will pave a strong foundation for making revolutionary transformation in the scope of governance and the opportunity to provide seamless and improved citizen services experience.  We welcome the government’s decision to establish National Centre for Artificial Intelligence.”

- Souma Das, Managing Director,  Teradata India

“The announcement of National Artificial Intelligence portal is expected to propel India on the path of leveraging advanced and disruptive technologies for growth and economic prosperity and growth. IAMAI also welcomes the focus on clean energy and electric vehicles.”

- Dr. Subho Ray, President, Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI)

According to IAMAI, Road transport significantly drives India’s climate change impact. It is a major fossil fuel consumer: consuming 70 percent of India’s diesel and 99.6 percent of India’s petrol in 2013. It is a significant GHG emitter: generating 8.7 percent of India’s total emissions – 64,317 gigagrams CO2e– in 2015. While India’s overall mitigation efforts are well underway, they would be undermined by inaction on transportation emissions, which estimates indicate would nearly quadruple between 2010 and the Paris Agreement’s 2030 deadline. This make India’s transportation sector a vital arena for climate change mitigation. Sri Goyal’s announcement is recognition of this and is in line with the plan of Hon’ble Minister for Power when he announced plans to shift India to an all-electric fleet by 2030.

According to IAMAI, the Government’s vision to make 1 lakh villages into Digital Villages over next five years with the help of Common Service Centres (CSCs) is ambitious and will usher in the much needed digital revolution under the Digital India initiative, and will help in the last mile connectivity. This will also bridge the Rural-Urban digital divide, and will open avenues to jobs and employment creation.

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