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NITI Aayog Proposes US$1.68 Bn AI Plan for Cloud Platform AIRAWAT and Research Institutes

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NITI Aayog, a government of India’s policy maker, has moved a cabinet note to provide ₹ 7,500 Crore (~ US$ 1.68 Billion) for the establishment of AIRAWAT (Artificial Intelligence Research, Analytics and knoWledge Assimilation plaTform), a cloud computing platform along with research institutes.

The Aayog has already circulated the note for consideration by the Expenditure Finance Committee, which is expected to take it up soon. This is part of NITI Aayog’s proposal to create an institutional framework for artificial intelligence (AI) in the country.

The note circulated by NITI Aayog proposes that the new government pump in Rs 7,500 crore over three years, as well as set up a high-level taskforce that will oversee the rollout and implementation of AI. An official told The Economic Times that Niti Aayog would present the cabinet note to the new government as they want an institutional framework as well as a transparent policy in place for AI.

According to the proposal, the funding would be used to set up five institutes or centres of research excellence (CORE), 20 international centres for transformational AI (ICTAI), along with AIRAWAT, a cloud computing platform that can be accessed by anyone. The official further added that selection of institutes and partners will be done based on guidelines that are currently being developed.

The task force monitoring the AI project will be headed by a member of Niti Aayog along with representatives from all ministries and states as well as experts. Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant has already written to states and ministries urging them to identify key projects where AI can be adopted.

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It was last year in June, when NITI aayog had released its discussion paper on National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence (NSAI) and has identified sectors — healthcare, agriculture, education, infrastructure and transportation, as key five sectors that can benefit from AI adoption.

The move to AIRAWAT, an AI-powered cloud computing platform, is part of the government’s goal of making India a pioneer amongst emerging economies with regards to AI and transform sectors such as education, health, agriculture, urbanisation and mobility.

In February last year, India’s IT ministry had also constituted four committees to thoroughly study on various aspects of Artificial Intelligence for citizen use.

In the same month of 2018, the-then PM Modi launched India’s first AI research centre for social good followed by announcement made by tech giant Adobe to establish an AI Lab in Hyderabad. In the same month Maharashtra govt. has also announced to bring India’s first artificial intelligence center in alliance with Canadian government.

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