NITI Aayog plans cloud platform for next-gen tech

NITI Aayog, the Government of India’s think tank, released an approach paper in January 2020 urging the government to set up India’s first AI-specific cloud computing infrastructure, ‘AIRAWAT’.

January 21, 2020

AIRAWAT (AI Research, Analytics, and Knowledge Assimilation platform) aims to bolster AI research, development, and application in India

AIRAWAT is being planned to be established based on the recommendations made by the National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence (NSAI)

The Government intends to resolve key computing challenges regarding, before building AI-centric computing infrastructure in India

It will work towards facilitating the work of all stakeholders (startups, researchers, etc) involved in the AI research and application ecosystem

In line with India’s goal of becoming a US$5 trillion economy, NITI Aayog, the government’s think tank, released an approach paper in January 2020 urging the government to set up India’s first AI-specific cloud computing infrastructure: AIRAWAT (AI Research, Analytics, and Knowledge Assimilation platform). The platform aims to bolster AI research, development, and application in India. AIRAWAT will be established based on the recommendations made by the National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence (NSAI).

Under this platform, the government intends to resolve challenges regarding the limited access to computing resources, before building AI-centric compute infrastructure that will benefit the Centres of Research Excellence (COREs), the International Centers Transformational AI (ICRAIs), and Innovation Hubs. 

The approach paper also stated that it would work towards facilitating the work of all the stakeholders involved in the AI research and application ecosystem – startups, researchers, students, and government organizations to name a few. Among the key points of this project are the institutional framework for implementation, the facility’s structure, the modes of access, and the architecture of the facility. 

India has come up as a leading destination for the uptake of artificial intelligence (AI) among government entities as well as businesses in the Asia Pacific region, as per an April 2019 report by Salesforce.com, a cloud-based software company. This, the report said, was owing to government strategies to support the growth of AI through funding, programmes, and policies. NITI Aayog’s “AI for All” initiative is driving AI innovation for the global market, which in turn can boost India’s annual growth by 1.3 percentage points by 2035. 

As the Government of India increasingly offers information and services over the internet to reach a bigger audience over smaller periods, the focus on ethical usage of AI will attain increased focus. As a part of this agenda, the Government in February 2019 approved a ‘National Policy on Software Products – 2019’ to develop the nation as a software product hub on the back of new-gen technologies such as AI. Meanwhile, funding in India’s diverse AI startups has jumped from US$127.7 million in 2014 to US$478.4 million in 2018.