Budget 2022: Artificial intelligence to help boost sustainability

Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman, in the recent Union Budget 2022, recognised the need for sustainable development. The government has emphasised the use of technology, such as artificial intelligence, to make development inclusive.
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With countries across the globe experiencing the effects of climate change, environmental sustainability is becoming a business imperative everywhere. The recognition that long-term profits necessitate environmental preservation has been increasing. However, the fact remains that including environmentally sustainable practices can be costly for corporations, which is discouraging in highly competitive industries.

Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman recognised this need for Sustainable Development in her 2022 Budget Proposal since the dangers of climate change are the most significant negative externalities that affect India and other countries today.

She highlighted that Artificial Intelligence has the potential to reconcile profits and sustainability as “They provide employment opportunities for youth, and make Indian industry more efficient and competitive”.

This emphasis on advanced technologies like AI is a part of the government’s long-term initiative to modernise India which will include promoting “digital economy and fintech, technology-enabled development, energy transition, and climate action.”

Moreover, as per the Union Budget, the government will take a light-touch regulatory approach to aid AI startups and corporations in India and support the broader ecosystem for innovative technologies in the country.

The Budget Proposal is undoubtedly consistent with the Prime Minister’s vision to make India Self-Reliant and a sustainable and digitally advanced global leader. The goal of digital transformation, which had already been boosted due to pandemic-induced necessities, will be further promoted by this budget which has given due priority to technologies like AI as the future of sustainable development.

The budget also recognised the impact of the pandemic on the economy, and the need to contain the damage caused by it. Towards this end, the budget has extended tax benefits to start-ups by another year. Such concessions are necessary as many sectors are witnessing a sharp decline in valuations due to the pandemic.

At the same time, other sectors have experienced increased growth and profits during the crisis, and perhaps because of it. Technology is one of the few sectors which has shown resilience and the ongoing pandemic is acting as a catalyst for digital adoption across sectors.

The big tech companies have seen their valuations increase by leaps and bounds. The budgetary provisions for foundational data and information technology infrastructure will unlock significant opportunities for growth and economic development, and an opportunity for India to be the next world leader. They are essential for cross-country distribution of opportunities, capital, wealth, and growth.

In today’s digitally-driven economy, tech companies expect a significant effort to develop the IT industry.

The government’s involvement in assisting businesses in progressing to the next level by providing a robust foundation for proliferating technologies like artificial intelligence is vital.

The application of AI in a range of areas, as well as its role in promoting digital success for corporations and government agencies, is undeniable, and the budget proposal has recognised this as well. For instance, companies can leverage AI to consolidate data throughout their ecosystem and generate faster insights for developing more accurate environmental models, all while providing better business results.

These can aid in the optimisation of corporate processes and resource consumption, as well as the reduction of waste and pollution.

AI can be used across industries, like in the energy sector, AI can manage renewable energy demand and supply using deep predictive capabilities and intelligent grid systems. AI can improve efficiency, minimise expenses, and reduce wasteful carbon pollution emissions by more precisely anticipating weather patterns.

AI has proven to be the ideal path to a sustainable future. Nirmala Sitharaman’s budget speech reflected this, as she stated that the government would heavily promote the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to modernise and streamline operations in areas such as education, banking, transportation, and infrastructure.

There are countless ways in which the adoption of Artificial Intelligence technology can reduce wastage while increasing efficiency.

AI can be extremely useful in identifying and avoiding human error in manual tasks, conserving energy and time in the process as tasks no longer have to be constantly re-evaluated or redone as a result of human error.

AI can also be used across industries to aid in the development of more efficient processes that consume less energy. Any corporation can develop more efficient operations and save energy by merging different types of AI, such as machine learning, natural language processing, and computer vision.

In addition, AI may be used to help re-engineer processes, removing redundant steps from the current process. AI can also be utilized to track the consumption of raw materials and uncover ways to use fewer resources.

It is worth noting that the Finance Minister highlighted Artificial Intelligence as a sunrise opportunity. To truly make the most of this opportunity, it is imperative that facilitative actions are taken by the government to build domestic capacities and undertake Research and Development in these areas.

It is incredibly heartening to see the emphasis the government is laying on AI as the driver of future growth and sustainability. The nation will surely reap the benefits of this forward-looking budget - a great stepping stone towards the Prime Minister’s vision of ‘India at 100’.

Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti

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