Is there a tug of war between Niti Aayog, IT ministry on artificial intelligence project?
Two consecutive budgets read by two Finance Ministers (Arun Jaitley and Piyush Goyal) had provisions for a National Artificial Intelligence Portal. But, almost two years have passed since AI (artificial intelligence) was given prominence.
It looks like the project it stuck in red tape.
Both the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and Niti Aayog are now staking claim to the project, leading to a complete standstill.
Presenting his 2018-2019 budget speech Arun Jaitley had mandated the Niti Aayog to establish the national programme on AI to guide research and development in new and emerging technologies.
Almost a year later, presenting the Interim Budget 2019-20 in the Lok Sabha, interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal had spoken about nine priority areas that have been identified for the development of the AI sector in the country.
Even Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman in her maiden speech had said that the government will be increasing its efforts to improve the skills of youth in fields of Artificial Intelligence (AI), big data, robotics, and other newer skills.
Provisions for AI are galore but the project is stuck in a limbo because both Niti Aayog and MeitY are wanting to take the project forward. Sources within the IT Ministry have told India Today that a budget of 300 crores has been sent to the department of expenditure under that Finance Ministry.
Interestingly, even Niti Aayog (government’s think tank) has submitted an expenditure report of approximately Rs 7,000 crore to the department of expenditure.
The department of expenditure is now contemplating the next course of action with regards to the varied budgets it has received.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been vocal about his desire to expand India’s reach in artificial intelligence sphere.
On one hand the project is stuck because both MeitY and Niti Aayog are staking a claim on it and on the other hand the government is making tall claims on back of the subject.
Responding to supplementaries during Question Hour, Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank said that engineering students are being trained so that they can be a part of the ‘Make in India’ initiative of the government.
The minister highlighted that the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) will not allow new conventional disciplines with low employment potential from the academic year 2020-21 and will permit only emerging fields like artificial intelligence and blockchain.