AI for All: India’s AI Strategy for Empowering the Next Billion

“Dig into every industry, and you’ll find Artificial Intelligence (AI) changing the nature of work.” Daniela Rus, Director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. AI is changing the global economic landscape, a process that has only got hastened by the COVID19 pandemic. In the coming decade, AI will add trillions of dollars to the GDP of countries that are well prepared, while others are at the risk of facing the growing challenge of economic inequality resulting from the AI revolution. And that is where India’s AI strategy becomes very relevant.

The “AI4All” Approach

India began its AI journey with social empowerment at its core. While the leading global economies such as US and China are engaged in an “arms race” to become the ultimate AI Superpower, India consciously chose this “AI4All” approach.

According to Anna Roy, Senior Advisor at NITI Aayog and the person who conceived India’s AI Strategy, “with a focus on inclusivity, we ensured that India’s AI strategy would not be per se focus on the technology, but on how this new technology will help us address our age-old problems. We developed the entire approach based on this, and it shifted India from being another AI leader in terms of developing the technology to becoming the AI garage of the world, where the technology is used to solve real socio-economic challenges faced by over a billion people.”

AI-powered tools and systems from the public sector improving governance.

Government Initiatives

On the other hand, the government, especially the Ministry of Electronics and IT, has launched numerous AI-related initiatives for preparing for the coming decades of AI. These include the National AI Portal called INDIAai, the Responsible AI for Youth programme aimed at skilling students from government schools, PARAM Siddhi Super Computer, etc., with a more elaborate National Programme on Artificial Intelligence under work. 


AI is also expected to make breakthroughs in healthcare, education, agriculture, and language technologies. Hundreds of languages are spoken across India making knowledge sharing, skilling, and accessibility to information a considerable challenge.

Today, India also carved out its own space in the global AI arena. In 2020 India, alongside the US, the UK, and the EU, India joined the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence or GPAI as a founding member, which is an international and multi-stakeholder initiative to guide the responsible development and use of AI.

The last half a decade also saw India entering into strategic AI partnerships with many countries. In 2021, India signed a 1 billion British pound trade deal with the UK, with provisions for the manufacturing and export of drones and the development of AI technologies.

Similarly, India and the US already cooperate on AI research and development through the Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF), which recently launched the U.S.-India Artificial Intelligence (USIAI) Partnership. India has also entered into similar agreements to foster innovative AI ecosystems with other countries such as Germany, Japan, and UAE.

With a very young population, a fast-growing AI talent pool, and its data-rich nature, India has an incredible opportunity to leverage AI technologies to advance its growth. However, to fulfil its goals of becoming a manufacturing hub of AI tools for the emerging world, India still needs to focus on infrastructure development, skilling, R&D, and the right policy approach.

India's global standing in AI

  • AI market is valued at $6.4 billion.
  • ranked second in terms of AI adoption in the Asia Pacific region. (2020)
  • fourth-largest producer of AI-relevant scholarly papers since 2010.
  • ranked 8th globally in terms of AI patents filed. (2020)
  • AI start-ups attracted $836.3 million in funding, making it 8th in terms of private investment in AI. (2020)
  • 3rd largest start-up ecosystem in the world with emerging unicorns deploying AI-powered tools. (2022)

Jibu Elias

Research & Content Head, INDIAai

Jibu is an AI Researcher and the leading expert on India’s AI ecosystem. He also serves as a Senior AI Researcher with NASSCOM, the premier trade body and chamber of commerce of the Tech industry in India.