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Emerging Technologies like AI for Bharat’s Digital Transformation

Emerging Technologies¹ like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Deep Learning (DL) – AI/ ML/ DL, Drones to name a few are the panacea for Bharat Transformation, aspirational India.
By Sudhir Aggarwal

Traditionally, ‘Bharat’ has certain fundamental characteristics, often challenged in terms of socio-economic, geopolitical, educational, infrastructural, and healthcare facilities. This has created an ever-growing divide known as ‘India – Bharat’.

At a contextual level, it would be quite apt to state that it is the ‘Bharat’ of ‘India’ that is the engine of growth, making India a destination for the entire globe, including Indian industry, which is the darling factor.

The government has been making multi-dimensional efforts to transform rural areas across sectors through initiatives like JAM (Jan Dhan Aadhaar Mobile), Direct Benefit Transfer, Power for All, sectoral advisories, and building roads, highways, i-ways, waterways, and other infrastructure.”

Emerging Technologies like AI
Emerging Technologies for Bharat

To some extent, digital initiatives of the government over the years across sectors have been facilitating the process to manage the ever-growing urban-rural divide. However, most of them are incremental. In parallel, the gap continues to grow wider; hence the challenge remains.

The need of the hour is to be disruptive (in a positive sense) in nature and transformational in action, with a focus on empathy. It is time to shift gears to see ‘Outside – Inside’, i.e., look at everything from the stakeholder’s perspective, covering citizens, businesses, government employees, global market players, and all other government stakeholders.

One of the flip sides of the wider adoption of digital technology-led interventions is the emergence of the ‘Push’ mode, e.g., text and voice-based messaging to stakeholders. In the current scenario, this has reached such a saturation point that people have become averse, and possibly some of the important and required messages get lost in the ‘ignore’ mode. One of the Secretaries in the Government of India in the social sector aptly shared his perspective and concern with IT industry players, i.e., “What will it take to change from Push to Pull mode?” where the end beneficiaries start to look forward to the arrival of advisories, messages, and inputs.

In most digital adoption conversations, the focus is on solving the problems and challenges while introducing digital interventions. In the case of emerging technologies, it should be looked at differently. These technologies can solve problems and challenges and create new avenues and opportunities in a ratio of 30:70, respectively, by leveraging their power, abilities, and capabilities. These technologies have tremendous power to transform any regime disruptively. ‘Design Thinking’ is one of the critical aspects of digital transformation with a focus on empathy – ‘look outside – inside’. Emerging technologies create an opportunity to go back to the drawing board to reconceptualize policy regimes, programs and schemes, service delivery, stakeholder engagements, inter and intra-government interactions, and every aspect of governance.

Some noise is always heard as the emergence and adoption of new technologies cause job losses.

Largely, it is a matter of perception when seen in a larger context in terms of:

  • The overall job market: What percentage of jobs are impacted by these emerging technologies, directly or indirectly?
  • The new avenues and opportunities created across sectors through adoption.
  • The new jobs and roles that are emerging.
  • The evolution and spread of startups as job providers, fundamentally leveraging the power of these emerging technologies. Some new-age startups in remote areas have transformed traditional ‘jugaad’ technology into a formal economic perspective.

‘Skill over Degree’ is becoming a prominent phenomenon even early in careers. The New Education Policy 2020 endorses and provisions for students to focus on their interests, abilities, and capabilities. However, the bigger challenge remains for society to reconcile and evolve beyond traditional preconceived and biased mindsets about job roles.

One thing is for sure: the need for reskilling is undergoing a major change. Previously, the learning cycle was 36-60 months or more; now, it is 12-24 months. To simplify, not everyone needs to focus on everything happening around them. One can use the broad bracket of 70:20:10. Fundamentally, one can safely ignore 70% of conversations as noise that may not matter, be broadly aware of 20%, and focus on 10% to stay relevant. These ratios can be defined individually, but they will not differ significantly.

The formalisation of the economy is evident when even small payments are made through digital means/wallets. Every such rupee and paisa strengthens the economy from informal to formal. According to SBI in October 2021, the share of the informal economy may have shrunk to no more than 20% from 52% in FY18.

The era of emerging technologies includes yet another critical stakeholder: Gen Z. This new-age generation thinks and expects very differently, with less legacy and new perspectives. India, being a young nation, places Gen Z at the center of everything, making them key influencers and factors.

Every evolution and revolution come with its own challenges to watch and care for, especially when emerging technologies advance at an unprecedented pace. These technologies present potential challenges such as bias, privacy, security, e-waste, cyber issues, excessive censorship, new digital protocols for human beings, environmental impacts like carbon emissions, and many others.

The good news is no one is in denial. All these challenges and their impacts have been acknowledged by the ecosystem. It is also understood, no one can stop these developments. Regulatory and compliance, awareness, capacity building, application in real-life situations, evolution of law & order and judiciary, … are among the efforts to stay aligned and keep the pace.

Any investments in process and technology remains inconclusive without capacity building and change management. Launch of Government of India’s initiatives like Capacity Building Commission and Karmayogi (with iGoT platform) is possibly among the most strategic investments in ‘People’. This is of utmost significance to build aspirational India as supply side og governance has to be integral to such disruptive transformational transformation.

Sometime back, the Government of India initiated a program focusing on digital literacy. The goal was to impart computer skills to one member in every eligible household in selected blocks in each state/UT of the country. Now, with the evolution of emerging technology-based solutions, including mobile-based spoken engagements in local languages, the entire perspective has significantly changed. National Digital Literacy Mission | Government of India : National Institute of Electronics & Information Technology (nielit.gov.in).

Day by day, technology and these emerging technologies are becoming a way of life. We, as individuals, and our surroundings are full of sensors and devices that either feed or collect data. Beyond data collection, alarms and actions are triggered, impacting our lives with the characteristics and triggers of these technologies. Are we contemplating a world where people may explicitly declare to the whole world that they are entering a ‘No Sensor/Smart Zone’?

It may be a good idea to look at some of the emerging technologies in the context of various sectors/domains in government and the new-age solutions available. Multiple efforts, initiatives, and projects are underway in India, primarily led by Indian startups. In most cases, each startup is quite focused on a combination of selected sectors, solutions, and technologies.

Here are some of the use cases:

SNTecnologíaSector/ DomainSolution
1AI/ ML/ DLAgricultureCrop Health Track Monitoring, Voice based localised advisory in local language in interactive and intuitive mode, Yield Prediction, Pesticides Management, and others.
SaludSensor-based monitoring of pregnant women and Children, Identify diseases and initial diagnosis, Intuitive Voice-based interactions – engagements with medical fraternity in local language, and others.
City, Infrastructure ManagementIntuitive Voice-based stakeholder’s engagements platform in local language with government, Pollution monitoring and management, and others.
2Computer VisionAgricultureMobile-based image sharing-led disease identification and advisories.
Education, SkillingAttendance and Presence management, Class monitoring and management, Institution Security management, Attention and Participation analysis and management of Blended Learning Platform, and others.
City and Infrastructure ManagementMobile/ other device-based image capture-led infrastructure management, Reporting and management of non-compliances, Crowd monitoring and management, Inspections, Parking and Traffic management, and others.
3Natural Language ProcessingEducation, SkillingNLP can help customise the contents in alignment with the student profile and learning curve.NLP can help identify the COPY/ Tool-based Content creation by students.Language Translation and making the same content available in multiple languages. This can put an end to debate of education content in local languages.Truly, NLP has graduated into GenAI based solutions with the power of newer innovation.
Government AdministrationSentiment analysis over social media, grievances, and feedback, …Extract text from the documents per user requirements like summarisation. NLP can further help in analysing records, notes, and articles as they may relate to government policy/ program/ scheme/ and other documents.
4Generative AIGovernment AdministrationGenerate draft agenda and perspectives basis user’s prompt, the outcome would be determined by the quality of underlying data and the comprehensiveness of the prompt in all GenAI base solutions.Extract and generate summary and specific information from source data stored in text-audio-video-other formats.Intelligent and Intuitive Grievances/ Feedback management, Information dissemination to government stakeholders in voice-based engagements in local language with sentiment analysis through AI-based agents, language translation, and others across source and nature of documents.
Agriculture, HealthcareFree-format spoken/ text based interactive engagements like advisories in local language about various subjects, Know about various programs-schemes-infrastructure availability-others in the given context of a beneficiary, Co-pilots for service delivery/ service seekers for assistance on multiple purposes, and others.
Education, SkillingPersonalised intuitive counselling, assistance in preparation for interview, understanding any subject including complex matters by simplifying the learning process, Collaborative Learning and Services Platforms, and others.GenAI based solutions can generate audio-video-images-others from text or any other source information such that students can generate outcomes for better learning, understanding, and comprehension. GenAI can help achieve focus from teaching to learning.
5BlockchainLand Record ManagementSecured immutable land record documents where multiple stakeholders have interest in the same document as owner-revenue department-land record department-banks giving loans against property as mortgage, and others. Traditionally, there have been massive challenges wrt. The authenticity and validity of such documents leading to frauds and malpractices.
Government CertificatesVarious Certificates like birth-death-school leaving-age proof-others which are accepted by other institutions within government/ other institutions as verification documents. It is critical to protect the originality and check/ avoid any misrepresentation. The authenticity and validity of such documents leading to frauds and malpractices.
Bill of LadingBill of Lading (BoL) provides ‘title’ as to who legally owns the cargo, and it is a Contract of Carriage in International Export/ Import. At times, BoL is a negotiable document as well. A Blockchain based system can significantly reduce the entire export-import shipment lifecycle timelines with enhanced efficiency-cost effectiveness-security-other benefits.
6Internet of Things (IoT)Disaster ManagementIn current times, the disasters are better predicted and possible preventive actions are enabled to certainly save the lives of people, including people’s belongings/ assets.Drone-based IoT solutions do help during post-disaster scenarios in people’s engagements and services.
SaludMonitor pregnant women (case in specific) at the last mile who have been traditionally deprived of basic healthcare. Further, there are many use cases of patient monitoring based on wearables.Tele-medicine is largely based on and supported by IoT enabled solutions.IoT based solutions help monitoring of various equipment and assets at hospitals to ensure more effective deployment and better availability, including upkeep of these investments.
AgricultureAutomated irrigation, capture and share inputs about various parameters relating to farm and produce with experts remotely for advisory and support.Drone-based IoT solutions do help during post-disaster scenarios in assessing the losses and compensation delivery to people.
7AR/ VR/ MREducation, SkillingDeliver the skilling programs to people including living in last villages with local language spoken interface in simulation environment. It is like a playing experience – Gamification. Nowadays, there are solutions which can act without the need of AR/VR headsets.Mantra to teach difficult subjects with simplicity through real-life use-cases and experiences for people to relate.Applications available to introduce newer technologies/ processes/ procedures/ … Can help in preparing skill-force for the international market/ enrich employability.
DefenceHands-on training in real-life scenarios on ever-evolving tools and war-artillery, technologies and techniques to teams spread across Pan-India is best served by AR/ VR/ MR environments.
SaludSkilling, Reskilling in real-life scenarios with specific nuances is best served with real-life simulations and hands-on exercises.Tele-ICU, among recent govt. programs are a good use case to evolve into reality.
8Cloud ComputingEducation, SkillingAvailability of DevOps environment including most advanced tools and technology options to students on Cloud, which has been traditionally constrained by the availability of IT Infra with respective institutions.Sandbox in spirit for various innovations and experiments significantly enhances and supports the initiatives and projects.Cloud services can be subscribed to like buying a mobile sim, even in government through empanelment of existing and future services.
SaludRollout of the CoWIN kind of solution during Covid could not have been possible, especially when the entire global electric supply-chain was choked.Cloud can help with significantly enhanced elasticity, scale, SLA-based metered services, and others to achieve higher availability-performance-manageability-maintainability-better up to date systems of digital systems with investment protection.
Government AdministrationGovernment rolls out various applications to the stakeholders for various engagements and interactions. There are challenges of sudden/ expected peak loads.Cloud models are available like Private Cloud, Public Cloud, Hybrid Cloud, Multi-Cloud, and others with provision of Cloud migration and porting.Now with multiple options of Cloud Service Providers (CSP) under MeitY (Ministry of Electronics and IT) empanelment, government departments can subscribe to host of cloud services.
9DronesAgricultureSpaying, watering, surveying, monitoring, damage estimate, collecting soil data, … and other use cases.
ForestFire detection and salvage, prevent forest encroachment, seeding, tree counting/ forest inventory management, … and others.
InfrastructureConceptualisation 🡪 planning 🡪 implementation/ execution 🡪 inspection 🡪 maintenance management through the drone-based interventions with reality check at every stage.
10MobileAgricultureMobile-based AI-enabled advisories in spoken local language through multiple channels.
Education, SkillingGamification and self-paced moderated learning per learning curve of individuals.
Socio-economic benefitsMobile-enabled and mobile-linked direct payments to and by the end beneficiaries without the complexities of traditional people-linked payment systems.

It may be imperative to quickly revisit the introductory picture right at the beginning of “Demystify Emerging Technologies like AI for India” to close for now. The combination of these technologies and startups in India is making a difference. This combination is delivering path-breaking, disruptive solutions to serve aspirational India. Though startups do struggle with the challenge of scale, this is a separate debate, and there is definite work in progress in India to keep the momentum going.

These technologies are empowering people with regular or specific skills, expertise, and experience to venture into delivering ‘more with less’. This is where reskilling and capacity building become key differentiators, enabling people to upscale themselves and graduate into newer roles.

To summarize, but not exactly conclude, ‘staying relevant’ for anything and everything on Earth is among the biggest challenges and opportunities. Nothing can be stopped; the world will not wait for people to evolve, and disruptions will keep happening at an unimaginable pace. So, “Stay Relevant.”

Source: EGov

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