The Indian government approved the formation of a 12-member “Technology group” chaired by K. Vijay Raghavan, principal scientific advisor to the Indian government on February 19.

Why was it formed? The group will advise the government on strategies for latest technology, encourage ministries to develop in-house capabilities for AI and data science, and maintain a map of technology and technology products in India, among other tasks. Its three “pillars of work” will include policy support, procurement support, and support on research & developments proposals, per the release.

What we know so far: According to tweets from Vijay Raghavan, 6 secretaries from science and technology departments will be members of the group; it will then invite five other members, which may be other secretaries or industry and academia experts “as needed”.

  • The group will examine technology that is “valuable for economy and society”, and then advise on its procurement and deployment, with inputs from Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC) — which is also chaired by Raghavan.
  • Each department or ministry will also have a “technology officer”.

Raghavan was appointed as principal scientific advisor for a three-year term in March 2018, he had served as secretary of the Department of Biotechnology until January 2018.

The stated objectives of the group are overly broad and unclear: For instance, one of the things the group will ensure is that India has “appropriate policies and strategies for effective, secure and context-sensitive exploitation of the latest technologies for economic growth and sustainable development of Indian Industry, in all sectors”. Similarly, Raghavan’s tweets also indicate a broad aim of the group:

The full list of objectives of the group:

  • “to ensure that India has appropriate policies and strategies for effective, secure and context-sensitive exploitation of the latest technologies for economic growth and sustainable development of Indian Industry, in all sectors”
  • “to advise the Government on priorities and strategies for research on emerging technologies across sectors”
  • “to maintain an updated map of technology and technology products available, and being developed, across India”
  • “to develop indigenization roadmap for selected key technologies”
  • “to advise the Government on its technology supplier and procurement strategy”
  • “to encourage all Ministries and Departments as well as State Governments to develop in-house expertise in policy and use aspects of emerging technologies such as data science and artificial intelligence, and to this end develop an approach to training and capacity building
  • “to formulate policies for sustainability of public sector technology at PSUs/Labs while encouraging cross-sector collaborations and research alliances with Universities and Private Companies” and
  • “to formulate standards and common vocabulary to apply in vetting of proposals for R&D”