AI-enabled Cloud to transform millions of lives in India

Microsoft's India President Anant Maheshwari

New Delhi (IANS) With Artificial Intelligence (AI)-enabled Cloud solutions, the country is now looking at solving real-life problems in sectors like agriculture, healthcare, and education. Experts believe that the country needs to prioritise AI-based predictive analysis to improve outcomes in these core areas that touch millions of lives.

When it comes to agriculture, India has now embarked on a journey to bring AI sensors into the fields.

According to Microsoft's India President Anant Maheshwari, the company has begun empowering small-holder farmers in India to increase their income through higher crop yield and greater price control.

"We are working with farmers, state governments, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare to create an ecosystem for AI into farming," Maheshwari told IANS recently.

In some villages in Telangana, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, farmers are receiving automated voice calls that tell them whether their cotton crops are at risk of a pest attack, based on weather conditions and crop stage.

In collaboration with the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Microsoft has developed an AI-Sowing App powered by Cortana Intelligence Suite including Machine Learning and Power BI.

The app sends sowing advisories to participating farmers on the optimal date to sow. Farmers don't need to install any sensors in their fields or incur any capital expenditure. All they need is a feature phone capable of receiving text messages.

On the front of education, online retail giant Amazon's Cloud business arm Amazon Web Services (AWS) has now fast-tracked skilling the young via "AWS Educate" -- providing them early access to its core Cloud platform that has already transformed millions of enterprises and start-ups globally.

"For us, every individual is the source of innovation and AWS Cloud platform gives an individual complete access to technology that has transformed major enterprises. Even a small innovation that will come from Cloud-driven skilled workforce will be a significant one to make the world a better place to live," Vincent Quah, Regional Head of Education, Research and Non-profits for APAC at AWS, told IANS.

According to a NITI Aayog "National Strategy for AI" report, India is going to face a demand-supply gap of 200,000 data analytics professionals by 2020.

Another report from FICCI-Nasscom and EY said that 9 per cent of the country's 600 million estimated workforces would be deployed in new jobs by 2022 and 37 per cent would be in jobs that have completely changed skill sets.

"Students need to be Cloud-oriented especially at a time when governments and enterprises are digitally transforming their businesses and start-ups are being born in the Cloud," Quah noted.

Nearly three million heart attacks happen in India every year and more than 30 million Indians suffer from coronary diseases.

In a novel effort to predict the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) among the Indian population, Microsoft India and Apollo Hospitals have launched the first-ever AI-powered heart disease risk score API (application program interface).

It provides the capability of applying ML and AI to cardio-vascular health records to develop an Indian-specific heart risk score.

With the new heart risk score for India, Apollo Hospitals' AI model helps gauge a patient's risk for heart disease and provides rich insights to doctors on treatment plans and early diagnosis.

The company has also applied AI to devices for early detection of diabetic retinopathy to prevent blindness. Microsoft India also announced a partnership with SRL Diagnostics to expand the "AI Network for Healthcare" to pathology to detect cancer.

Dr Devi Prasad Shetty, Chairman and Executive Director of Narayana Health, has performed over 15,000 heart operations. His hospital chain does one-sixth of heart surgeries in India.

"His hospital chain is working on the Kaizala app, Power BI and Azure to run the operation smoothly. Dr. Shetty aims to put all electronic health records on Kaizala for real-time data analysis. This gives a doctor full information about a patient and his past," said Maheshwari.

The various stakeholders are just starting to understand the power of AI-enabled Cloud that can transform millions of lives in the country.

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