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Union Budget

Digital India in Union Budget: Rs 3073 crore for AI, robotics, 3D printing, Blockchain

Vishal Krishna
2nd Feb 2018
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India has a severe shortage of engineers in these technologies, especially when countries like the US have a talent pool of 850,000 AI engineers.

Finally, India begins to take Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics, 3D Printing, and IOT technologies seriously. The finance minister announced during his Budget 2018 speech emphasised the need to set up centres of excellence to enhance their impact on business and the economy.

The budget has allocated Rs 3,073 crore for this purpose, which has doubled from last year.

AI-crypto- budget 2018

This comes at a time when China has put in $2 billion for its centre for excellence. Chinese companies Baidu, AliBaba, and Tencent have been pushing boundaries in AI because they want to make business processes more predictive, and also have prescriptive information on products and services.

“Big data and AI are technologies that we must invest in and R&D is a necessity,” said Arun Jaitley, in his budget address.

Interestingly, the government also spoke on cryptocurrencies and Blockchain technologies. "Cryptocurrencies are not legal tender and the government discourages its use. However, the government will look at the utilisation of Blockchain,” said Arun Jaitley.

“I am glad that budget has gone out and invested in digital India by promoting AI and Blockchain. There will be billions of transactions as agriculture goes digital and there will be a need for Blockchain and AI combinations. The budget is setting the precedent with digital payments or for farmer credit cards,” says Ritesh Kumar, founder of FonePaisa.

Jaitley has announced this at a time when India is falling behind in the race to build AI technologies.

India has only 150000 engineers who skilled in building AI technologies.

“There is a need to increase this skill in India. If you think about it there would only be only 100 hardcore AI engineers in India, the rest of them are entrepreneurs,” says Kamal Karanth, co-founder of Xpheno.

Companies like Infosys, Wipro, and TCS will benefit from this move and will be able to find a new breed of engineers who can use data to build algorithms that can predict and prescribe for their clients in the US and America.

“It's a very good move to introduce AI as a national agenda, especially since it is impacting all consumer-related technologies,” Venu Kondur, founder of Lobb, a digital platform for the trucking economy.

Maybe in a year we will have a roadmap to making Indian engineers build solutions that can change India’s agri economy through AI.

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