Coronavirus is a big challenge but also presents an opportunity in the technology space that Indians can leverage to make the country a great nation, IT and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Saturday.
The minister launched a national artificial intelligence portal, which will share all developments and resources available for the development of the emerging technology in India.
He also launched a nationwide programme 'Responsible AI for Youth' in collaboration with US electronic chip maker Intel.
"I think COVID is a big challenge, is a pain also but COVID is a big opportunity and I have not the slightest doubt inept technological and entrepreneurial ability of Indians - both individuals and groups - will come to the fore to make India a great success," Prasad said.
The minister said that he is very keen that India should become a huge software product nation as well as excel in the field of IT services.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
Technology has played a key role during the lockdown by "keeping the country alive and connected".
These are very turbulent times for the country but India has been able to save many lives due to the lockdown, he added.
"The total population of these 15 countries is 142 crore. Total population of India is currently 137 crore. How many people have died on account of corona in these 15 countries.. 3,57,736 as per WHO yesterday evening. India's population is 137 crore and death is 4,971 till yesterday. This could happen because of lockdown," the minister said.
Prasad said Rs 53,000 crore have been transferred online to the account of the poor from PM relief fund.
"This brings some satisfaction as to how during tough times technology can be of great help and the great vision that the Prime Minister has when he insisted on empowerment of ordinary Indian with the use of technology.
"I am glad that we are launching these two initiatives on the 1st anniversary of the second tenure of the Narendra Modi government. After a long time a government has been re-elected on the basis of performance," Prasad said.
The minister said that the last government re-elected due to performance was at the time of Jawaharlal Nehru.
The national AI portal will work as a one stop digital platform for AI related developments in India. It will share resources such as articles, startups, investment funds in AI, resources, companies and educational institutions.
The portal will also share documents, case studies, research reports etc. It has a section about learning and new job roles related to AI.
The 'Responsible AI for Youth' programme aims to give the young students in the country a platform and empower them with appropriate new age tech mind-set, relevant AI skill-sets and access to required AI tool-sets to make them digitally ready for the future.
This programme will be open for government schools across all the states.
The Department of School Education and Literacy (DoSE&L) will help reach-out to state education departments to nominate teachers as per eligibility criteria.
"I must tell you no technology has failed in India. I would like my friends to note that when Rajiv Gandhi came with computers there was so much opposition, including from my party, including from Mr Rajiv Gandhi's party that what will happen to the poor, jobs will go away. Computers empowered and also created opportunities," Prasad said.The minister said that the post-COVID world will not remain the same and there has to be wider use of technology.