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Artificial Intelligence: Why India Needs To Up Its Game

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Today, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an emerging technology. Since 2010, it has grown at a compounded annual growth rate of almost 60%. After machine, automation and computer, fourth industrial revolution will come through artificial intelligence and 3D printing.

What Is Artificial Intelligence?

Collecting data about the world and making predictions on the basis of this data to predict results is called intelligence. When the same is carried out using a machine, it is called Artificial Intelligence. Today, the likes of Amazon and Alibaba are collecting data in a bid to keep track of the interests of their customers. Even YouTube suggests us the videos that are similar to the ones that we have seen in the past. All of this is done through AI.

Countries Spending On Artificial Intelligence

Today, China and US are two of the leading countries in the world when it comes to spending on Artificial Intelligence. Both developed as well as developing countries are spending heavily on research to develop AI. China will be investing at least $7 billion by 2030 in order to develop a research park in Beijing. China has the most ambient national plan to become the AI leader. The US military are funding for AI projects along with private industries and institutions. The UK government has decided to spend $30 million to setup AI tech in incubators.

Last year, the government announced a deal worth $200 million between private and public sector within the UK to develop AI. The European Union outlines a $24 billion (€20 billion) investment between 2018 and 2020 from public and private entities to develop systems of AI.

Last year, the French president Emmanuel Macron announced an investment of $1.8 billion in AI research until 2022. France is also interested in building many research centres. The Canadian government announced an investment of $125 million for AI research in March 2017. Russia spends atleast $12.5 million per year on Artificial Intelligence.

Paper Publications

In the period between 2011 and 2015, China published over 41,000 papers on AI while US published almost 25,500 papers, according to the Times Higher Education. Japan stands third with almost 11,700 published papers. United Kingdom occupies the fourth spot with 10,100 published papers on AI. Germany is fifth in line with 8,000 published researched papers on AI. Between 2011 to 2015, nearly 8,000 papers were published. India produced 9,730 papers on AI between 2007-16 .

According to another analysis done by a research agency named Itihaasa, India stands third in terms of the number of documents produced on AI with 12,135 documents behind China (37,918) and United States (32, 421). Countries want to lead the AI revolution because it can give rise to new industries. It can also be a powerful military weapon and shift the global balance of power. Fighter jets and automated distilleries in Russia are AI-assisted.

A partnership to develop AI came into force. It involved heavyweights such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, IBM and Microsoft. These companies not only publish research papers, but also invest capital to develop innovative AI systems. Chinese companies Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent,which are collectively known as BAT, are making steady progress in AI. Alibaba is an e-commerce company and is already working on AI for packing and shipping. From e-commerce, Alibaba has moved towards self-driving cars and the City Brain project.

Tencent invested $154M into healthcare AI unicorn iCarbonX.  It has ambitious plans to develop a complete digital representation of your biological self. Google founded DeepMind Technologies Limited in 2010, in Britain. Presently, DeepMind is world leader in Artificial Intelligence. Last year India allocated $480 million to promote Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Internet of Things and machine learning. If we compare India with China, we see that China spends 2% of its GDP on research while India spends only 0.6%.

Modi-Yogi govt spent INR 4200 crores for Kumbh Mela, but are not aware of the benefits of Artificial Intelligence. The world has started investing heavily in AI. It’s time for the Indians to take AI seriously as well.


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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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