Digital India’s Bid on Artificial Intelligence: Robot Rights or Regulatory Rumble?

The article sheds light on India's approach towards regulation and integration of Artificial Intelligence.
Privy Legal Service - Moiz K Rafique
Privy Legal Service - Moiz K Rafique


India, since the last decade, has been showcasing herself as the nurturer of new-age technologies and has banked upon innumerous opportunities that have come up in the global market. Out of India’s USD 254.5 billion services export in 2021-22, Information Technology (IT) and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) account for a staggering USD 157 billion. This entails that the Digital India initiative has not only got landscape-shifting abilities, but also that it has formulated a focus vision for India to capitalize over what she has already achieved so as to be able to continue with its curve in a longer run.

All of what has been stated above underwent crucial vitalization with the introduction of “Artificial Intelligence” (hereinafter, “AI”), believed to have taken not more than a few fortnights to reach the world. While it surely has the capability of catapulting India to do wonders and enable it to transition from “business runners” to “business changers” in the global, it also makes it extremely important to cater to intrinsic human-nature, comprisin dual opinion.


While countries globally have been scrambling to regulate AI, with a considerable few outspokenly wanting to exercise stricter regulations, it becomes interesting to delve into how India is going to navigate its way through. Apart from the technology spree that India has dived deep into as discussed above, something that carries important weights is India’s population and its relationship with AI.

It is further interesting to assess the Indian landscape in this regard as also the Centre has already positioned itself onto taking a “hands off” approach and thereby allowing AI to take its own course. However, alongside, the Centre also acknowledged various concerns comprising of transparency, data privacy and responsibility.

The question that has been assessed vide the present article is whether India will stick to its liberal approach with respect to AI and allow a safe headspace for it to nurture on its own? Or will there be regulatory environment in the likes of the recent developments in European Union’s strict “risk-based approach”; or akin to that of United States that furthers a systematized adoption strategy while aiming at mitigating risks.

The answer to the above depends on various factors ranging from requisite traction and pace of economic development to societal complexities including population and economic divide. The said factors have been discussed in detail hereunder.

Assessing the Need

At the very outset it is necessary that formulation of policy with respect to AI is undertaken by India for the genesis of AI is very recent and whatever its impact will be, is cent percent unprecedented. In such circumstances, a nation as magnanimous as India cannot rely upon the probabilities to play their own course.

Further, the “hands off approach” is very well seconded but as a driving ideology behind policy formulation. The very reason behind such seconding is that India’s economy is very young, and yet it has managed to outperform many older and mature economies in terms of modern avenues, with Information Technology being one of the major highlights.

The very reason why the authors push for policy formulation is that India, being a driving force of world growth, is also very diverse in its nature in terms of economic divide as well as social complexities. These attributions strongly put forward an issue of availability of “access” to AI. The use of AI without demarking its metes and bounds has the potential to further knot the complexities tighter, which is exactly to be prevented by means of the policy formulation.

Therefore, the above discussion makes it clear as to the very intention of policy for AI should be centric to allowing exhaustion of benefits that arise out of safe advancements, as otherwise the problems already poised before India have led to probabilities of getting even more knotty. The following part of this article aims at putting forward a set of views devised by the authors with respect to striking a balance with India’s need to seize the opportunity to gain further traction with the advent of AI while securing its spot with respect to above described.

Striking the Correct Balance

In light of the above, it is imperative to highlight the “INDIAai” Programme launched by the Indian Government for leveraging transformative technologies to foster inclusion, innovation, and adoption for social impact. The pillars of this programme include AI in Governance and AI Ethics and Governance amongst four others.

The need for highlighting the above is that AI, while being a super technology, has to be utilised in the most responsible manner. Although, in light of the above discussion, it is necessary that India ensures a leveraged setup for AI so as to reap the best of its outcomes, but in the same manner, it is necessary that the application of the technology is further used to subsidize the impact it creates due to the accessibility issue that has been discussed above.

Sector-Specific Regulations

An all-encompassing policy may inhibit creativity. Alternatively, India might take a sector-specific approach, adjusting laws to the particular dangers and advantages of AI in various fields (for example, more stringent rules for law enforcement's use of facial recognition technology than for chatbots with AI).

Emphasizing on Ethical Development

By encouraging values like justice, accountability, and openness, the government might create rules for the development of ethical AI. This can entail encouraging algorithmic audits to find and reduce prejudice or mandating that businesses disclose their AI decision-making procedures.

Retraining and Upskilling Employees

Automation raises questions. To assist workers in adjusting to the evolving nature of the workforce brought about by AI, the government may fund skill-building and reskilling initiatives. This could entail helping displaced workers transfer to other industries or offering training programs for new AI-related professions.

Promoting a Culture of Responsible Innovation

To create responsible AI practices, India could promote cooperation between researchers, policymakers, and business executives. This could entail setting up public-private partnerships to promote best practices or developing research institutes dedicated to ethical AI.

Creating Sturdy Data Governance

Data powers artificial intelligence. To guarantee appropriate data collection, storage, and usage, the government should tighten its laws protecting personal information. This could entail granting citizens greater control over their personal data or enforcing stronger data security regulations.

About the author: Moiz K Rafique is a practicing advocate before the Gujarat High Court and the Managing Partner at Privy Legal Service LLP.

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