Hindustan Times (Gurugram)

Govt plans AI push with national centre

- Amandeep Shukla amandeep.shukla@htlive.com ■

A National Centre on Artificial Intelligen­ce that will, with other top research bodies, seek to harness the potential of cutting-edge technologi­es was the new education sector project in finance minister Piyush Goyal’s interim budget on Friday that also increased funding for the creation of 20 Institutes of Eminence as well as for research and innovation.

To take the benefits of artificial intelligen­ce and related technologi­es to the people, a National Programme on Artificial Intelligen­ce has been envisaged by the government. This would be catalysed by the establishm­ent of the National Centre on Artificial Intelligen­ce as a hub along with centres of excellence, Goyal said.

“Nine priority areas have been identified. A national artificial intelligen­ce portal will also be developed soon,” he said.

According to a government official who spoke on condition of anonymity, the project will be steered by NITI Aayog, the government’s policy think tank.

The human resource developmen­t ministry’s ambitious project to create 20 world-class institutio­ns received a boost in the budget. The project received allocation of ~400 crore, up from ~128.90 crore last year.

Research and innovation is another area which received the government’s attention. Form the ~243 crore in the revised budget for 2018-19, the amount earmarked under the head was raised to ~608 crore.

The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institutes of Management also saw an increase in the funds allocated to them.

Compared with ~5,714 crore in 2018-19, the IITs will get ~6223 crore in 2019-20. For the IIMs, the figure has climbed from ~372 crore to ~415 crore. The budget for 40 central varsities saw a marginal increase from ~6,498 crore to ~6,604 crore.

Significan­tly, these are among the institutio­ns which will in the coming two academic years have to increase their seats by 25 %.

“The poor have the first right on the resources of the nation”, Goyal said in his budget speech, adding that around 200,000, or 25% additional seats, will be offered to implement the 10% quota for the economical­ly weaker sections.

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