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    There Could Be a Separate Act to Regulate Deepfakes, If Needed: MeitY Secretary Says

    The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) is open to all approaches for regulating deepfakes, and there could be a separate Act for them if needed, MeitY Secretary S Krishnan said during the AI Alliance Delhi NCR conference held on May 17. Krishnan was responding to a question about the possible inclusion of deep fakes under the yet-to-be-released Digital India Act (DIA) which is set to replace the Information Technology Act, 2000.

    While Krishnan did not clarify whether deepfakes would be under the Act, he said that the MeitY was speaking to various stakeholders to understand what shape the Digital India Act (DIA) should take. “We are also interacting with peers in other countries. The fact that we are the Chair for the Global Partnership on AI this year helps us, gives us that ringside view of what is happening in other jurisdictions,” he added. 

    Can India’s AI Mission compete with big tech investments in GPUs?

    In March this year, the government announced the approval of IndiaAI Mission. This mission comes with a budgetary outlay of Rs. 10,371.92 crore which will be invested in “programs and partnerships across the public and private sectors.” The mission will build a minimum of 10,000 graphics processing units (GPUs) under a public-private partnership and provide them to AI startups and researchers. When asked whether the IndiaAI Mission’s investments into GPUs will be able to compete with those of Big Tech in the West, Krishnan explained that the mission was just a starting point and more resources could be added at a later time if required.

    “The ability to be flexible and to pivot, to make sure that we are able to get the kind of results that we want is always possible,” he said. Krishnan said that if the AI industry is as path-breaking as claimed, newer players would enter the market, preventing a monopoly and driving down prices.

    Has there been enough value addition from foreign players manufacturing electronics in India?

    In 2020, MeitY rolled out a product-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for large electronics, which also covered mobile phone manufacturing. Under it, the government provided companies with an incentive of 4% to 6% on incremental sales (over base year) of mobile phones that are manufactured in India. Many companies like Samsung, Foxconn, Rising Star, Wistron, and Pegatron (the latter three are manufacturers of Apple smartphones) were approved for the scheme.

    When asked whether this has led to enough value addition, Krishnan explained that the goal of the scheme had been to establish scale. He mentioned that the value-addition from the assembly of mobiles in India is about 15-18% of the final value of the product. “[But] the entire electronic value chain is a global value chain. And no country, not even China, has more than about 40% to 50% of the entire value chain within their borders. So we are not doing too badly from that for somebody who is just starting up in that sector,” he explained.

    Besides this, one of the key things brought in by mobile manufacturing is employment. “I can honestly tell you that the single largest factory premises today in this country would be the mobile phone factory,” Krishnan said, adding that the Foxconn factory in Sriperumbudur employs 50,000 people. 

    “Now there is a next stage, which is that if the mobile manufacturing ecosystem has to sustain itself in India, then we have to be competitive, which means that you need to have more of the components which are manufactured in the country,” he said, adding that this is what the MeitY is targeting in the next phase. Krishnan said that this work in component manufacturing has already started; for instance, Corning investing which has announced a Gorilla glass unit in India. As this investment comes in, value addition will rise. 

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