Top AI-based Initiatives Of 2020 By NITI Aayog

The NITI Aayog is a policy think-tank established in 2015 by the Government of India with an aim to achieve sustainable development goals by fostering active cooperation between the central and state governments. The think-tank realises the importance of tech initiatives in modern-day policymaking and for socio-economic advancements.

In 2018, the think-tank introduced the national strategy for AI, #AI4ALL, which identified five core areas to ensure AI progress in India. Since then, it has taken several AI-related initiatives with an aim to ensure that the growth in this field is responsible and inclusive. This article collates some of the top initiatives taken by the body in 2020.

A Workshop To Boost India’s AI Ambitions

Artificial Intelligence – The India Imperative, an AI workshop was held by the NITI Aayog in February this year. The workshop invited all the relevant stakeholders from IT industry professionals and academics to state ministers.

An inaugural session by the programme director around the topic of ‘AI for All’, laid a foundation for a discussion around how a scalable approach could be adopted for the use of AI in socio-economic sectors like healthcare, education, and agriculture.

NITI Aayog has taken a three-part approach for AI – undertaking exploratory proof-of-concept AI projects in different areas of the country, creating a national strategy for a vibrant AI ecosystem in India, and collaborating with experts and stakeholders in the field. This workshop was a part of the think tank’s engagement with stakeholders, including multiple startups.

Introduction Of An AI Module For Children

In February, NITI Aayog launched an AI-module for school students in collaboration with the IT industry body NASSCOM.

The Atal Innovation Mission that has been set up by the think-tank with an aim to create and encourage an environment of innovation and entrepreneurship introduced a module under one of its programmes, Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL). The module comprises several videos, experiments, and activities that teach students about the fundamentals of AI and prepare them for a digital era.

The module has been created with partners such as Microsoft, Adobe, SAP Labs, Wipro, and other such leading tech-based companies.

Start-up Collaborations To Combat COVID

The advent of the pandemic was seen by NITI Aayog as an opportunity to make progress in AI and at the same time solve the problem at hand. The think-tank Invited several health-tech startups and organisations under the initiative of ‘Empowered Group 6’ in order to leverage their low-cost innovative technologies to tackle the pandemic.

This included – that uses AI-enabled analysis of chest X-rays to detect Covid-19 lung infections in under a minute, Mfine that is an AI-powered online doctor consultation and telemedicine platform, Staqu that has AI-enabled thermal imaging camera for screening body temperatures, and DronaMaps that uses AI-enabled GIS system to track Covid-19 hotspots.

Published White Paper On Responsible AI For All

NITI Aayog published a white paper in July to explore the possibilities of funding research projects that are aligned towards Responsible AI. 

The white paper calls for the introduction of Ethics of AI in mainstream university curriculums to encourage the youth to explore unbiased and responsible AI and also points out the immense scope for the large scale adoption of AI in several social sectors.

RAISE Initiative

NITI Aayog organised a Global AI Summit – Responsible AI for Social Empowerment (RAISE) in collaboration with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, that invited academic and industry professionals. The experts were given a platform to share their ideas and charter a course to use AI for social empowerment, inclusion, and transformation in key areas like healthcare, agriculture, education and smart mobility amongst other sectors.

The event witnessed speakers from several industry giants and startups, representatives from the governments, and academics.

Set up an oversight body

In November, NITI-Aayog proposed the setting up of an oversight body that will play an enabling role across different aspects of AI.

In accordance with the national strategy that calls for responsible implementation of AI, NITI Aayog published a draft titled, ‘Enforcement Mechanisms for Responsible #AIforAll’ which calls for a body that will play an enabling role in research, education, logistics, and policy among other areas of AI.

Wrapping Up

The AI industry in India is predicted to grow by $ 880.5 million by 2023 with a compounded annual growth rate of 30.8% by 2023. While that is the case, it is necessary to ensure this growth is inclusive and does not put unfair disadvantages to certain sections of society. At the same time, it is essential to prepare the new generation of talent and make them AI-ready, to ensure the job market in India is not left behind.

NITI-Aayog has taken several initiatives to ensure this. The implementation of these initiatives might play a crucial role to ensure inclusive growth in this tech-driven world.


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