SRITNE – ISB study finds higher investments and research driving significant growth of AI in India


New Delhi: Businesses and society have been disrupted, creating uncertainty about the way we live and work. The ongoing pandemic sped up technology adoption across most business verticals in 2020-21. India, too, is no exception to this phenomenon. While until a few years back, it was mostly IT firms that were adopting artificial intelligence (AI) on a large scale; now, other sectors are fast catching up. Thanks to phenomenal growth of start-ups and ongoing investment activities in the country.


The recent AI Index 2021 Annual Report launched by the Indian School of Business’s IT-focused think tank, Srini Raju Centre for Information Technology and Networked Economy (SRITNE), captured trends R&D, education, entrepreneurial activity. The ISB research team, led by Professor Deepa Mani, found that investments in AI-managed processes have grown substantially across businesses in India.


This Index tracks, collates, and visualizes data relating to AI investment, its use and adoption. It also monitors AI readiness along with adoption rates across States. “The research analysis revealed that while overall activity and investments are increasing significantly, these activities are concentrated in a few regions.” said Professor Deepa Mani, Professor and Area Leader of Information Systems, ISB and Executive Director, SRITNE-ISB. “AI has helped Indian businesses to be resilient to the COVID-19 pandemic in the country and helped them redesign their models for tomorrow.”


The initial findings from the AI-Index report indicate the following highlights:


There has been steady growth in AI-related research publications, collaborations, and patents. “Machine Learning” emerged as a popular subject for AI researchers, with over 37% of the AI related publications dedicated to the subject in 2020.
Distribution of start-ups across geographies revealed that Karnataka leads with the maximum number of AI start-ups followed by Maharashtra.
As per our analysis of online job searches for the period 2019 – 2020, there has been a steady growth in AI-related jobs posting in India, though it represents only a small percentage (2% in January 2019 -March 2020) of total jobs posted in India.
In India, the popularity of the keyword “Machine Learning” grew steadily from 2015 to 2020, overtaking “Artificial Intelligence” in 2017.
There is, however, minimal organized data on the demand and supply of AI-related skills and human capital in India. Therefore, the gap between skills and employment in the AI domain is not entirely analyzed yet.
The AI Index was conceived and initiated to have an informed discussion and develop a deeper understanding of the state of AI in India. The index is a credible source for unbiased and comprehensive data analysis for researchers, industry executives, employment providers, skill development institutions and policymakers to further their understanding of the field of AI in India. The ISB research team is continuously updating its data sets, developing newer analytical and visual tools to chart the growth of AI in India over time.

Speaking on the study’s findings and motivation, Professor Deepa Mani said: “Our study suggests that while there has been a significant advancement in knowledge creation and appropriation in the field of AI, much more needs to be done, especially with respect to skilling and education. We will continue to track the growth of this technology across the critical areas mentioned in the report. We feel that the focus should be on widespread skilling, investments and education building in other regions as well, which in turn would help to reduce inequality.”

‘The AI Index 2021 Annual Report’ was formally launched today by Mr. Jayesh Ranjan, IAS, Principal Secretary, Industries & Commerce and Information Technology, Government of Telangana and Dr. Rohini Srivathsa, National Technology Officer, Microsoft India, in a virtual event today.

Speaking at the launch event, Mr. Jayesh Ranjan, who is spearheading several AI related initiatives in the State of Telangana, highlighted how the State has proactively provided policy support to AI usage. “We have created an AI/ML based platform Citizens360 which is using 18 million government datasets to profile any citizen based on their government records,” said Mr. Ranjan. He said, in keeping with the State’s commitment to the conscious promotion of ethical AI, the much talked about Citizens360 platform would be the first subject of the ethical guidelines for AI usage that the Telangana government is developing. He highlighted the use case of AI-ML based predictive tool developed by NASSCOM for the State government to monitor COVID hotspots in the state 15 days ahead of their actual occurrence. The tool, he said, is being actively used this year as well as part of the State’s COVID management system.

Remarking on the observed trends of the SRITNE-ISB study, Dr Rohini Srivathsa said that an earlier NASSCOM study has indicated that data and AI can add half a trillion USD to India’s GDP. “The pandemic has led people to consider investments in AI and automation proactively,” said Dr Srivathsa. She said that usage of AI would also contribute towards the framing of better COVID response and faster economic recovery going ahead.


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