‘AI for India’ campaign as part of Digital Skilling program in emerging and future technologies’ and has an ambitious target. Tell us about the campaign and also how was this conceived?
As you are aware digital skilling initiative launched by the union Education Minister, Dharmendra Pradhan and AICTE chairman Prof Anil Sahasrabudhe on June 6 will focus on skilling, reskilling and upskilling students via internships, apprenticeships, and employment to 1 crore students in the Emerging Technologies. ( This is the first-ever collaboration on a national scale between Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Skill and affiliated NSDCs, Skill India programs (National Educational Alliance for Technology) and AICTE. Over 100+ technology corporate/manufacturing firms have already come on board on this platform to provide free-of-cost emerging technology certifications. It includes artificial intelligence, blockchain, big data, data analytics, cyber security, and cloud computing.)
Our ‘AI for India’ campaign is part of this initiative. Aim is to make India the AI capital of the world. As regards how the idea of ‘AI for India’ happened. It goes sometime back when I was part of the team preparing for The UAE Centennial 2071 vision by the UAE’s Government. We were devising strategies of implementing multiple AI strategies and how to train people. Seeing how the UAE was proactively working for AI in its economic planning, I was literally smitten by the thought why not India? So for six months or so we brainstormed, discussed with our partner companies and then took it to the AICTE and the Government. It was well received and launched as a national program.
That sounds like realizing a dream. Now 25 lakh is a huge number. How did you arrive at this target?
Let me share the industry feedback. The AI skill sets in new recruits is an area of concern and then all of us know that two years of Covid have impacted skilling in real sense and there is a need to support graduates of all these years. Second and most important aspect is India’s requirement for AI professionals is huge. We are big outsourcing destination when it comes to IT work and projects. And it is not now between hardware and software. Things have moved to data engineering, analytics, AI, robotics and other emerging technologies and India needs to have human capital in these areas if it has to maintain its position in hosting and providing tech services. Therefore the actual number is quite high but we have set this target given our matrix and support ecosystem.
So, in layman terms, how will this number be trained?
We are implementing this campaign over six-months and have divided it into five events. When you understand the flow of the events, you’ll get to know how we plan to achieve the target. First of all we are holding a National Future Engineering Scholarship Examination on August 15. It is open for all students from class 8 onwards till post-graduation and even individuals. The aim is to attract maximum AI aspirants, who are interested in AI. The second phase in the campaign is for students who have passed in 2019, 2020 and 2021 and have gaps in in skillsets as compared with industry requirements. We’ll support them by training at our portal. In the third phase we will be organizing an AI Ideathon is to encourage students and individuals to produce ideas to solve any human centric national issue with the help of AI, Data, Cloud and allied sciences.
Going further, an All India Data Engineering Quiz Competition will be held to call enthusiasts and test them on knowledge on data across domains and verticals. The campaign will culminate on January 26, 2023 with All India Jobathon for Cloud, Data and AI Aspirants. All the participants who participate and complete any one of the above initiative will be given a chance to appear for 1,00,000 jobs from industries in India.
Very laudable initiative indeed! Is there any kind of registration fee to be paid?
Not at all, it is completely free at every stage. On face of it we have kept a fund of Rs 10 Cr for startup or the winners of AI Ideathon who would like to start a venture of their own.
While contests or quiz competition is perfectly done best online, the training or skilling for gaps will need trainers and mentors. What is the arrangement for that?
All those who register will be trained through our trainers though in most cases remotely. We have two modules—one in fundamentals for exposure to AI and the second is a bootcamp of 180 hours for those possessing basics. Our partners will also join these efforts and we will create an impactful hybrid experience for all those who train with us.
What about universities and colleges?
Wherever the registrations run above 200, our team will hit the ground and conduct the training at the institution itself. We are in discussion with various institutions and a lot of positive signals are coming. For instance Dr. D. Y. Patil Vidyapeeth (DPU), is making it for all students. Already about 9 lakh registrations have happened.
That brings to us to the question of school students. Now they are also part of your campaign. But before that as an acclaimed expert, I would like to know what age is appropriate for this kind of skilling and also when we hear claims of children coders through big advertisements, what is the intent?
Class 8 and above is ideal for exposing children to AI skills. That is why we have included them that way. Children need to be exposed to coding and tools and that is good for their future as well as future of our country. But to say a child has accomplished a project is a misnomer. There is a lot of domain thing in coding and any project will need a fair understanding of domain and expected outcome. And definitely it is not a child’s play. We should allow children to grow and expose them to possibilities and groom them gradually. Putting templates together and making claims is a stupid thing.
A few last thoughts for our readers?
We have planned this campaign for everybody including our friends from rural India and tier 2 n tier 3 cities. They should take advantage of this opportunity and start exploring the AI and its applications. Every student should remember that without developing an understanding of data, its science, deep learning and understanding of tech economy will decide future paying jobs and better plan and prepare.
‘AI for India’ Campaign registrations are open, offers free opportunities to train in AI – Education21
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