Indian firms should leverage on technologies, AI to leapfrog economy: NITI Aayog CEO

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SINGAPORE: Indian firms can leverage on state-of-the-art technologies and emerging fields such as artificial intelligence to reimagine production and leapfrog the economy, CEO of National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) Amitabh Kant said on Friday.
He also said that India needs to focus on design and innovation to become a major manufacturing hub.
Addressing an annual International Conference on South Asia “Emerging South Asia: Politics, Economy and International Relations”, organised by a think tank of National University of Singapore — the Institute of South Asian Studies, Kant said India, in recent years, has channelled public funds to spur innovation.
“We need to focus on design and innovation, to become a major manufacturing hub,” he said and cited market estimates that artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to add over USD 900 billion to the Indian economy by 2035.
He also said that the technology was being used to increase efficiency and enhance governance across the government.
Kant said that the government has also been giving a huge impetus to entrepreneurship.
“As of last month, 437 schemes across 57 ministries are covered under the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) programme. DBT has led to the removal of duplicate and fake beneficiaries and reduced leakages.
“The government has approximately saved about USD 12.7 billion. Similarly, under the JAM Trinity (Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile Technology), the government had made tremendous progress in enhancing financial inclusion,” said Kant.
India has also relaxed 87 rules on the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) across 21 sectors, he told around 240 delegates at the conference.
“Over 1,200 redundant laws have been scrapped. These efforts have been showing phenomenal results. FDI is at an all-time high. Between 2014 and 2017, India received USD 160 billion FDI.”
The government, he said, has also been providing a huge impetus to entrepreneurship.
Since the launch of ‘Startup India’ in 2016, more than 8,200 startups have been recognised by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion.
“The release of innovation and startup policies of various states and Union Territories remove the informational barriers and policy uncertainty around the innovation ecosystem,” he said.
He highlighted the Micro Units Development and Refinancing Agency (MUDRA), which provides loans to small and micro enterprises. “Nearly 79 per cent of MUDRA’s loan beneficiaries are women entrepreneurs.”
Touching on gender parity, he said the government has removed key impediments to women’s labour force participation by easing access to credit under MUDRA.