The Indian government is planning to spend around Rs 1,635 crores to develop the AI ecosystem and use AI to add to the knowledge system of e-governance platforms, according to a recent blogpost published on MyGov portal.
According to the blogpost, the government has identified key areas for AI deployment, which include:
a. Governance applications of the IndiaStack
b. Powering up the large language model for Digital India Bhashini
c. Building smarter health care services
The blog also reiterates that “the government is considering a ‘Hub & Spoke’ network model to safeguard ‘guardrails for ethical use without disrupting innovation.’” The hub and spoke model is a network comprising a central hub or a main Centre of Research and Excellence (CORE) in AI and connected spokes or AI institutes in this case. The National Strategy for AI by NITI Aayog had stated that the hub and spoke model will be employed to assist institutes researching AI and to enable the development of AI capabilities across sectors.
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Why it matters: At a time when countries like China and the United States and the European Union are ramping up efforts to regulate AI—particularly generative AI—India has shown little interest in heeding the discussion of AI regulation. The Indian government, in fact, has been pushing for greater use and research of automated systems for governance platforms in different sectors. This is being done without addressing the potential harms that follow the use of AI-enabled products and platforms. The growing concerns around bias, misinformation, cybercrimes, and deep fakes call for defining procedures or mechanisms to check the credibility of AI systems deployed by different companies.
Use of AI by Indian tech startups and IndiaStack:
The government is planning to expand the INDIAai initiative under a “comprehensive AI programme” comprising the National Data Governance Framework Policy (NDGF) and a plan to set up three AI Centers of Excellence in top educational universities. The upgradation of the INDIAai portal will be done by bringing Indian AI startups onboard. The key focus areas for AI intervention include agriculture, education, Indian languages, smart cities, cybersecurity, transportation, and finance.
The MyGov blogpost also informs that the government is planning to use AI-driven algorithms to study data provided by the IndiaStack to understand “consumer behaviour and consumption patterns”. IndiaStack is a set of interconnected platforms, which can be used by businesses, government entities, and developers to use the infrastructure for providing different services. The government has also noted that “tight oversight will be required to maintain privacy and avoid data leakage”.
No clarity over SOP for deploying AI:
A number of parliamentarians questioned the IT Ministry over the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for deploying automated systems for different purposes like the Digi Yatra, facial recognition use by the Unique Identification Authority of India, CCTVs in government locations, etc.
The IT Ministry, in its response, mentioned that the National Informatics Centre (NIC) conducts pre-deployment assessments to evaluate the feasibility of an AI model, but did not elaborate on the SOP followed by different departments for using AI.
Additionally, the government was also asked about how it plans to incorporate ChatGPT and other large language models, which power generative AI applications, for governance. The government appears to have evaded a direct answer to any of these questions. Though the ministry acknowledged challenges with respect to user harm, it did not elaborate on the specific use of ChatGPT-like tools in governance.
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