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AI migration woes: Brain drain threatens India’s tech future

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By Appalla Saikiran, Founder & CEO, SCOPE

Welcome to the forefront of technological evolution, where Artificial Intelligence (AI) is emerging as a pivotal force reshaping the 21st century and humanity as a whole. AI’s capacity to revolutionise sectors, optimise workflows, and enrich human experiences places it at the forefront of global economic and strategic dominance. India, with its burgeoning tech industry and vast talent pool, finds itself at a crucial juncture in this AI race. The country boasts 60 generative artificial intelligence (AI) startups as of 2023, a figure that has doubled since 2021. These cutting-edge startups also raised a funding of $560 Million across 25 funding rounds in the same year. However, to truly harness the power of AI and emerge as a global leader, India must prioritise the development of a welcoming ecosystem conducive to innovation and collaboration in AI deployment.

The Current Story of AI Tech in India

In recent years, India is rapidly emerging as a hotbed for AI research, development and application. From startups to established tech giants, next-generation brands nationwide are investing heavily in AI-driven solutions spanning healthcare, agriculture, finance and more. The government, too, has recognised the strategic importance of AI, launching initiatives such as the INDIAai Portal, the National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence and a NITI Aayog paper on Responsible AI to facilitate its sustainable adoption and growth. However, despite these strides, India faces significant challenges on its path to AI leadership. One of the most pressing concerns is the migration of exceptional AI talent to Western countries, especially the United States. While India boasts a wealth of talent, the majority of proficient professionals are drawn to pursue their careers in the US tech ecosystem due to its allure with the promise of higher paydays, access to cutting-edge research facilities and a conducive venture-capital environment for innovation. Consequently, the demand for creating a feasible circumstance that facilitates continual growth has been on the rise.

Investing in R&D Space

At the heart of a sustainable AI ecosystem lies infrastructure – both physical and digital. The country must invest in building state-of-the-art research facilities, data centres and computing resources to support development and experimentation in this field. It is necessary that the nation’s administration allocate funds towards building world-class research centres, laboratories and innovation hubs focused on AI and Deep Tech. By creating an environment conducive to groundbreaking research, India can retain its brightest minds and position itself as a global leader in AI-related innovation.

Collaborative and Open Sharing of Technologies

To address the challenge of talent migration, the biggest companies in India must work together to democratise access to resources and opportunities within its tech ecosystem. One key aspect of this approach involves fostering a culture of open collaboration among key stakeholders, including top-tier venture capitalists (VCs), corporates, academia and leading startups because no single entity can drive AI innovation in isolation. By creating a collaborative ecosystem where information is freely shared and resources are pooled, can level the playing field and provide equal opportunities for aspiring AI professionals across the nation. This could involve the establishment of platforms dedicated to knowledge exchange, networking events and cross-sector partnerships aimed towards accelerating innovation.

Ground-level Adoption of AI

In addition to these fundamental elements, the tech ecosystem in India must also prioritise accessibility and affordability in the adoption of AI-integrated technologies. The future-ready benefits of AI should be democratised, reaching not only large brands but also small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), startups and grassroots organisations. This involves lowering barriers to entry, providing incentives for AI adoption and offering support mechanisms such as training and mentoring programs.

As India surges ahead in the technological race, it must keep sight of the ultimate goal – leveraging AI for the greater good of society. AI has the potential to address some of the most pressing challenges in the world, from healthcare systems and agricultural productivity to environmental sustainability. All in all, the race for AI supremacy is well underway and India stands poised to make significant strides in this territory.

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