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Business News/ Technology / News/  Rajeev Chandrasekhar on India's digital-first strategy: Innovation, R&D focus, must not be afraid of AI
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Rajeev Chandrasekhar on India's digital-first strategy: Innovation, R&D focus, must not be afraid of AI

India's role in the tech world has evolved from being the 'back-office' to an innovative economy, according to Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar. He highlighted the growth of technology in India over the past 10 years, emphasising the country's presence in areas such as AI and semiconductors.

File image of Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Union Minister of State for Electronics and IT (ANI)Premium
File image of Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Union Minister of State for Electronics and IT (ANI)

Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Union Minister of State (MoS) for Electronics and IT, said India's role has evolved from the "back-office" of the IT world into an innovative economy, contributing to the digital landscape. He was speaking about the growth of technology in India over the past 10 years, at the DNPA Conclave and Awards 2024 on February 6.

"In the last 10 years technology growth in India has been spectacular. We have gone from being the "back-office" of the IT space to an innovation economy that spans the digital ecosystem. Whether you look at artificial intelligence (AI), semiconductors, or web3 — Indian flag, start-ups and innovation are there if you look to the future," he said.

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Changing Perceptions of India's Role

Chandrasekhar added that India and its talented workforce are no longer perceived solely as a cost-effective solution or a back-office hub. Instead, there is a shift towards viewing them as valuable partners in shaping the future of technology. This transformative change holds significance in the evolving landscape of the global tech industry.

"India's policy is enabling and that is the qualitative structural change that has created the momentum seen today. We have to make our talent pool global standard esp in areas such as semiconductors and AI you need the ability to research and innovate," he said.

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Enabling Policies Driving Momentum

A key factor contributing to India's tech momentum is its enabling policy framework. Qualitative structural changes in policies have played a crucial role in fostering a conducive environment for growth and innovation, ultimately driving the current momentum in the tech sector.

Despite the progress, the tech industry faces a significant challenge --- the need to elevate India's talent pool to global standards. Particularly in areas such as semiconductors and AI, a focus on research and innovation is imperative to compete on a global scale.

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"It is no longer sufficient to be just an engineer or to have a master's or even just a few years of experience; you really need the ability to research and innovate. Research and innovation should be embedded in your colleges, universities, and workplaces," he added.

Meeting this challenge will be essential for sustaining India's growth and influence in the ever-evolving tech landscape. He also reaffirmed the commitment of the Narendra Modi government to promoting digital innovation and expressed the government's commitment to safeguarding and fostering this evolution in the future.

Chandrasekhar pointed out that the announcement of a $12 billion seed fund for research and innovation in the budget signifies the government's commitment to shaping and catalysing the potential of young Indians. The minister stressed the significance of research and innovation being embedded in educational institutions and workplaces.

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On Tackling Deepfakes and Not Fearing AI

Chandrashekhar also highlighted the ongoing transformative phase in the tech industry and said that India has a proactive approach towards emerging challenges. He noted India's readiness to deal with technological threats by addressing fake news and deepfakes before the issues gained global attention.

Further, amidst concerns about AI impacting jobs, the minister advocated for a positive outlook, stating, "We shouldn't fear technology; AI will transform the way we live." He stressed the need for governmental oversight and regulatory frameworks to navigate this transformation responsibly.

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Expressing apprehensions about ad tech monopolies, Chandrasekhar said, "We're concerned about ad tech monopoly," adding that there is a need to address potential monopolistic practices in the advertising technology sector.

Responding to questions about the legal dispute between the New York Times and OpenAI, he felt the case would "define the use of AI in content creation" and underscored the significance of accountability and transparency in AI-driven processes.

Addressing regulatory challenges, Chandrasekhar said, "Nobody can put a publicly available platform on trial. We take the safety of our digital Nagriks very seriously."

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Published: 06 Feb 2024, 01:40 PM IST
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