Various production-linked-incentive (PLI) schemes for electronics will lead to a minimum incremental production of ₹10.5 lakh crore over the next four financial years, and around ₹6.5 lakh crore’s worth will be exported, said Ajay Prakash Sawhney, secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY). Sawhney, who gave an interview to Rajya Sabha TV earlier this week, also indicated that a policy or strategy, surrounding data centre infrastructure for artificial intelligence (AI), is on the cards and will be unveiled soon.

The senior bureaucrat said that the PLI schemes will bring sophisticated manufacturing capacity to India, which will enable production of “top of the line” mobile handsets, printed circuit board (PCB) assembly and so on. He was referring to a series of schemes that the Indian government has unveiled this year. Earlier this week, the government announced a PLI scheme for 10 sectors of the economy, including electronics and telecommunications. Last month, it launched a scheme for domestic and international mobile phone makers. Earlier in June, MEITY had launched three schemes for electronics manufacturing with a total outlay of ₹50,000 crore.

Production worth ₹10.5 lakh crore

Sawhney said that, in total, these schemes will lead to production of electronics worth ₹10.5 lakh crore in the next five financial years, including the current one. Of this, around ₹6.5 lakh crore will result in exports. As this process goes forward, he said, India would also attract manufacturers in the electronics component  and the PCB assembly segments. “I expect PCB assembly might happen not just to meet the manufacturing  requirement within India, we might actually end up assembling PCBs and exporting PCBs which go into products in the global supply chain,” Sawhney said.” He added that there are other PLI schemes on the anvil, and “we have a very interesting period to look out for.”

Policy for AI infrastructure

When asked about about the IT ministry’s plans for emerging technologies, specifically AI, Sawhney said the government’s efforts are to promote “responsible AI” — “AI that you can trust, AI that you can rely on, AI that is aligned with the human endeavour.”

He spoke at length about the need to ramp up infrastructure and institutional capacity for research in AI. “This will require huge infrastructure, especially data centre infrastructure. The type of super-computing that supports AI is of a special nature,” he said. Sawhney added that the government will apply learnings from its experience with the National Super-computing Mission (announced in 2015) for AI infrastructure. He added that private companies, too, will have access to this infrastructure. 

So we are planning something significant on the infrastructure front — this would be shared infrastructure, this would be across the institutions, possibly have access for companies as well that are engaged in this” — Ajay Prakash Sawhney, Secretary, MEITY

Sawhney said that the AI be applied in several sectors of the economy, including “healthcare, education, agriculture and primary sector, to urban living, smart cities, transportation, energy and many other fields”. He gave the example of AI in natural language processing, which has the potential to aid real-time translation of speech, which can be be extremely useful to Indian citizens that speak so many distinct languages. 

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