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IoT and AI applications to generate more than 2.8 million jobs in rural India in the next 8-10 years, says BIF

July 04, 2019
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Broadband India Forum (BIF), a think tank for digital transformation recently held a seminar on ‘The Impact of IoT on Jobs in Rural India’ to highlight the positive impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and internet of things (IoT) on job creation in the agriculture and healthcare sectors in India. As part of the seminar, BIF also released the findings of an on-going study that has being done in consultation with the Electronics Skill Council of India, Agriculture Skill Council of India and the Healthcare Sector Skill Council. The study highlights that IoT and AI based applications can have a transformational impact with regard to rural job creation and as per a conservative estimate, will create over 2.8 million jobs in rural India over a period of 8-10 years with an annual value of Rs 600 billion (approx. $ 8.9 billion).  Of this, at least 2.1 million jobs will be created for the agriculture sector and another 0.7 million jobs will be created for the rural healthcare sector. The pace and quantity of job creation is likely to further increase post 2021-22 once 5G technology is implemented.

Key highlights in agriculture sector:

The study highlights that key applications such as satellite mapping, electronic market place, livestock traceability, climate sensing stations, product traceability, and agriculture drones have the potential to transform the ailing sector. These applications will help create smart farms and will bring lot more predictability in agriculture output which in turn will help improve incomes and lives of farmers.

By adopting various IoT based applications on a realistic basis, approximately 2.1 million additional jobs with an annual job value of around Rs 340 billion can be created in the agriculture sector. These jobs are likely to be created over the next 8-10 years horizon (2028/2030). These applications will bring in more predictability in farming practices and will help improve farm incomes and the quality of life of Indian farmers.

Key highlights in healthcare sector:

The government’s Ayushman Bharat initiative is expected to transform the primary healthcare sector in the country and will help introduce IoT-based applications to a rural patient ecosystem. Applications like remote medical assistance and surgery, smart diagnosis, cloud-based eye screening, pre-emptive oncology diagnosis, smart ambulance and emergency care, medical record digitisation, and smart consulting can help bridge the gap between rural healthcare centres and urban hospitals.

By adopting various IoT based applications on a realistic basis, approximately 0.7 million additional jobs with an annual job value of around Rs 115 billion ( after accounting for 0.4 million Ayush workers already in place ) can be estimated to be created in healthcare sector across India. These jobs are likely to be created over the next 6-8 years horizon (2026/2028). The pace of job creation is likely to increase post 2021-22 once 5G has been implemented. 5G is expected to be a game-changer for the healthcare sector.

A formal report on the study is expected to be released shortly.

In his inaugural address, Yaduvendra Mathur, special secretary, NITI Aayog said, “There is no denying the role that avant-garde technologies such as IoT and AI can play in the agriculture and healthcare sectors – especially in rural areas. India is the Saudi Arabia for generation of data. It is important to realise that India has the hardware, we have the data scientists, we have the algorithms – what we don’t have is real-time, clearly labelled and relevant data from the field.  From a Niti Aayog perspective, our focus is on data and that we get access to real-time data that can impact the creation of policy. We are therefore looking at a huge volume of real-time data being harvested from both the healthcare and agriculture domains and shared with us. A lot of work using AI is currently already underway by the government in the healthcare domain – for example the programme for the elimination of tuberculosis (TB) is using AI to improve TB diagnosis. From an agriculture perspective, AI and IoT are important because the diversification of Indian agriculture will not happen unless the farmer trusts the data that is shared with him. This will also require the participation of the private sector, specifically start-ups in the collation of labelling of this data, which in itself will create a huge number of jobs at the data-labelling level.”

Further, Dr. Saikrishna Nanduri, chief executive officer, National Skills Sector Council, said, “Indian agriculture employs 50 per cent of manpower and we have been seeing declining levels of employment as people leave the sector for better opportunities. The net contribution to the gross domestic product GDP also remains low. IoT and AI can make a huge contribution to transforming Indian agriculture, specifically with regards to productivity enhancement. What is a huge enabler to this is also the high level of digital literacy in India and our demographic dividend that makes us the world’s youngest country. We need to begin by data collection and aggregation – much of it through start-ups. This data will need to be collated and labelled by large big data companies and public sector organisations. Once this is done it can be integrated into the user interface and then used by communities, organisations and individuals who will gladly even pay for this.”

Meanwhile, T.V. Ramachandran, president, BIF further added, “It is no secret that the impact of AI and IoT will be truly transformational across industry. The BIF report, for the very first time, shares very significant findings in relation to the impact of IoT on job creation in rural India, specific to agriculture and healthcare. Given India’s young demographic profile, sustained job creation is the most critical aspect to keep the wheels of the economy running. Rural India, with 50 per cent of the country’s workforce needs to ensure that it garners a significant share of this.“

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