AIRAWAT- Establishing an AI Specific Cloud Computing Infrastructure in India


    The paper, while highlighting the urgent need for such an AI specific cloud computer infrastructure for Indian researchers and innovators, benchmarks other similar facilities being developed across the world and proposes the architecture, governance structure and mechanism of selecting various stakeholders involved in the implementation of AIRAWAT.


    The report titled AIRAWAT – Establishing an AI specific Cloud Computing Infrastructure for India, is an approach paper published by the Government of India think-tank NITI Aayog.

    To achieve the goal of becoming a $5 trillion economy, NITI Aayog suggests setting up an AI-based cloud computing infrastructure known as AIRAWAT (AI Research, Analytics and knowledge Assimilation). This platform will assist in the R&D of new technologies which will in turn help in solving business and governance use cases. AIRAWAT will be based on the recommendations of the National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence (NSAI), which has identified areas that are hampering the growth potential of AI in India.

    Given the fact that India’s AI computing is mostly dependent on vendors such as Microsoft Azure and AWS, AIRAWAT will provide the platform for not only specialized computing but also building infrastructures that will help the computing needs of innovation hubs and other research centers. Such a platform will address concerns related to data privacy and place India in the international map of AI. In this context it would be interesting to note that as per the ranking of the 500 most powerful non-distributed computer systems in the world, the top positions are dominated by USA and China. On the other hand, India only has two such supercomputing systems which, too, are not designed for AI applications.

    Relevance of the Report

    AI and cloud computing have merged to redefine our daily lives. By blending AI and cloud computing, digital assistants such as Alexa, Siri and Google Home have changed the traditional way of living. In terms of business, AI and cloud computing have streamlined operations and made business more efficient, supple, strategic and insights-driven. Apart from this, the duo has an immense potential of value creation across all industries. In the Indian context, AI alone has the potential of boosting the national growth rate by 1.3% and add USD 957 billion by 2035 and also address challenges such as affordability and availability of quality healthcare, education and mobility solutions. However, despite the potential, India lacks access to specialized compute and storage facilities which forms the backbone of AI. Hence the need to establish India’s own AI-first compute infrastructure (AIRAWAT) is crucial. The paper succinctly proposes the design, institutional and administrative framework for implementation and the financial components for setting up AIRAWAT. It emphasizes the fact that AIRAWAT is envisioned to be a leading-edge AI computing technology platform which would benefit students, researchers, start-ups and the government.

    Key Takeaways

    • The government has an ambitious plan of setting up AIRAWAT, a cloud platform for Big Data analytics with advanced AI processing capabilities. The infrastructure will be capable of high-performance supercomputing and creating new applications specially for the development of the healthcare and agriculture sector, weather forecasting and financial inclusion to name a few.

    • Simultaneously, the government will also be developing AI-specific compute infrastructure to assist the computing needs of Centres of Research Excellence (COREs), Innovation Hubs and International Centres Transformational AI (ICRAIs).

    • The development of AIRAWAT will be through public funding and hosted at an academic institute which will be known as the Host Institute. The Host Institute will be selected through a competitive process which would include a limited call for proposals from top-tier educational institutes possessing the required capability.

    • The paper envisions to utilize the work of all stakeholders in this platform creation process which would include researchers, start-ups and government organizations.

    • A Task Force will be set up not only to guide and oversee the development of AIRAWAT but also seek funding for its implementation.

    • With everything in place, AIRAWAT will catapult India to the global map of AI with the likes of Europe, USA and China.

    Report Contributors

    NITI Aayog

    AIRAWAT- Establishing an AI Specific Cloud Computing Infrastructure in India

    By NITI Aayog
    Read Research Paper

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