Editorial Team: What opportunities does the Indian government see for applications of AI in India,
and what is the government’s role in promoting AI?
Arvind Gupta: Our primary focus is on solving basic
societal problems and improving inclusivity (for example, for health, financial credit, and education).
We are focusing on solutions that are practical, affordable, and accessible, that will increase the reach
of the benefits of AI. An integral part of India’s AI
strategy is to create inclusive growth and social development and to extend these solutions to other
emerging and developing economies. We expect that
the AI solutions we create here, if successful, could
also be successful in countries with limited resources.
To give an example, a diagnostic tool for the early diagnosis of tuberculosis that is developed and sharpened in India could also be deployed to countries in
South East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
To help promote the application of AI in India,
the most important task for the government is to
create an environment to support research and development for AI. This begins with education and
skill development, but also includes research and
development funding and easy access to capital for
startup companies in this field. The Indian government serves as a catalyst to forge partnerships, provide access to infrastructure and funding, and to
create demand for AI solutions.
Editorial Team: What infrastructure is in place in
India to support AI solutions that target social issues?
Arvind Gupta: The Indian government has de-
ployed India Stack, a world leading concept for a
digital infrastructure for our 1. 32 billion citizens. It
started with the Aadhaar program, which gave over
a billion people a digital identity. Then we added
further functionalities, such as mobile banking and
paperless administrative procedures. India Stack is
now a set of APIs not only for the government but
also for businesses, startups, and developers to use
and create innovative applications on top of it. It is
also a tremendous source of data, which enables the
creation of an inclusive and representative artificial
Editorial Team: How will the government gauge
the impact its investments in AI?
Arvind Gupta: The way we think about impact in
India is broadly measured by reach and diversity
of reach (for example language, economic). For instance, voice-based commands powered by AI should
not support only the English language but also other
languages, so as to maximize reach within the population and maximize the eventual success in the Indian
context. I would look at four factors that correlate
with success in India: impact, frugality, diversity, and
reach. Given India’s democratic governance and societal makeup, the impact of an AI solution should be
pertinent to these factors. Until the AI economy in
India is more mature, dollar revenue should not be a
primary indicator of a successful investment.
Editorial Team: What is the Indian government’s
strategy for investing in AI?
Arvind Gupta: India has a dual-pronged strategy
for promoting innovation: research and startup. Research funding is always through research institutes
like, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and Indian
Institute of Science. Startup funding for incubation
of ideas is growing at a great pace right now. India has
allocated a budget of ₹ 3,073 crore ($480 million) 2 in
2018–2019 for promoting the AI research ecosystem
under the Digital India program. This also includes
research in the internet of things, 3D printing, and
blockchain technology. AI funding in India has