The government’s decision to launch a ₹10,372-crore AI Mission is a welcome step. This was long overdue as countries like the US and China have already made giant strides in this space over the last two decades.

The government’s move comes at a time when some individuals and groups are making efforts to create India-specific large language models and small language models. The amount allocated looks small for a country like India and for the infrastructure that would be required to support AI initiatives and start-ups. But of significance is the recognition of the problem and the opportunity ahead.

Going by the initial remarks of Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, the funds would be deployed to democratise computing access, improve data quality and develop indigenous AI capabilities. The Mission is also aimed at attracting top AI talent, providing start-up risk capital, and driving responsible and inclusive growth of the country’s AI ecosystem.

While we have to wait for the guidelines on how these funds would be deployed across multiple objectives, the government’s move would drive private investments into the AI ecosystem. It would give confidence to the industry, particularly venture capital funds, prompting them to mobilise funds for AI research and start-ups. While top-tier IT companies have already announced huge investments in AI, the move would drive others to join the fray.

The announcement also indicates the willingness of the government, one of the biggest consumers of IT products and services, to deploy AI-based solutions for various use cases.

While the intent seems to be good, it remains to be seen how it will be rolled out. It should break the traditional route of deploying funds in the top 4-5 IT hubs in the metros. A significant portion of the funds should be allocated to tier-II/III cities to make the AI revolution democratic and inclusive.