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Business News/ Opinion / Views/  India is set for an AI transformation: From farming to factories and beyond

India is set for an AI transformation: From farming to factories and beyond

AI can empower people to be their creative best by working as a companion that frees up bandwidth for human ingenuity. It can help us with both routine and complex tasks, enlarging the scope for humans to take on big challenges.

India’s apex software industry body, Nasscom, estimates data and AI could add $450-$500 billion to India’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025. Premium
India’s apex software industry body, Nasscom, estimates data and AI could add $450-$500 billion to India’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025.

In recent years, India has taken a lead with digital adoption and innovation, be it in the field of governance with digital public goods, or as seen in the enactment of legislation that’s in line with a progressive policy. This has helped foster entrepreneurship and grow the country’s startup ecosystem to become the third largest globally. As India looks to become the third largest economy in the world, artificial intelligence (AI) will play an important role in unlocking the productivity of its people and industries, and achieving its ambitions.

The government has outlined its vision for ‘Make AI in India’ and ‘Make AI Work for India’ and set up centres of excellence for AI in top educational institutions to facilitate scalable solutions in areas such as agriculture, health and sustainable cities. The adoption of AI holds the potential to revolutionize various sectors of the Indian economy, from farming to manufacturing, to further India’s commitment to sustainability. AI is fast emerging as a co-pilot, working alongside humans to assist in tasks that are complex or routine and freeing them from drudgery for more creative problem solving.

Leveraging AI for grassroots impact: There are several proof points on how India is already leveraging AI for good purposes and creating an impact where people need it the most. Take, for example, the AI Sowing App that sends advisories to over 3,000 farmers in villages in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. This app provides farmers information on optimal sowing dates and depths and also soil-test-based fertilizer application schedules that are critical for crop output and sustainable farming.

Working in tandem with dashboards personalized for each village, the app helped farmers boost crop yields by 10%-30%. And it was able to do this without farmers having to invest in advanced sensors or other equipment. All they needed was a phone that could receive messages. This use-case is illustrative of how AI can truly be a force multiplier, helping us solve some of the most pressing challenges that society and industry face today.

Unlocking innovation and productivity: The healthcare industry is on the cusp of a major revolution. The introduction of AI is set to change the way healthcare is delivered, making it more efficient and effective. AI has the potential to streamline administrative procedures, improve decision-making and provide personalized care to patients. It can also help identify health risks early, allowing for preventive measures to be put in place. AI can assist in early disease detection by alerting people to high risk factors based on large, anonymized data-sets. Apollo Hospitals, for example, is developing a cardiac prognosis model that will help its users predict the risk of a cardiac event in South Asian populations and will be available to all hospitals. It can aids governments in pandemic control, as with MyGov Sathi, an AI-enabled chatbot created to get key healthcare information across to Indian citizens during the covid pandemic.

In manufacturing, AI is empowering factory workers, production managers and people across the value chain with predictive maintenance, algorithms that monitor and adjust production lines in real-time and AI-driven quality control systems that inspect products with unparalleled accuracy, leading to a decrease in defects and waste. And as India looks to incentivize manufacturing done in the country, this presents a unique opportunity for it to leapfrog with Internet-of-Things and smart manufacturing systems designed to enable doing more with less time, money and wastage.

In today’s knowledge economy, and specifically in information technology, where India has already made its mark as a significant contributor to the global digital economy with its talent, software developers are using AI-assisted tools like GitHub Copilot to increase their productivity. The Copilot helps developers focus on the big picture and come up with innovative solutions to challenges, while AI acts as their companion through the software development life-cycle, assisting them with complex tasks and in completing the more routine part of the coding process.

Re-imagining the future with AI: India’s apex software industry body, Nasscom, estimates data and AI could add $450-$500 billion to India’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025; enhancing AI at a functional level, particularly in operations, has the potential to unlock close to half this value. While AI has relevance across industries, agriculture, consumer goods and the retail, banking and insurance sectors are estimated to account for nearly 45% of the value for India.

By investing in AI education and training programmes, India can empower its youth to do more and reduce income gaps. Cloud and AI-powered education platforms can help with skill-building initiatives at scale, while also personalizing the learning process, improving educational outcomes and reducing the country’s digital divide.

The AI-enabled future is one where people are empowered to be their creative best and innovate, with AI working alongside them as a companion, helping with both routine and complex tasks to free up bandwidth for those that require human ingenuity. For India, this presents a unique opportunity to unlock the creative potential of its young workforce for solving some of the pressing challenges faced by industry and society. This is an opportunity for India to lead with AI.

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Published: 07 Nov 2023, 03:56 PM IST
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