IBM’s commitment comes a week after Modi had a similar call with Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Google announced a $10 billion investment into India over the next five to seven years last week which includes a $4.5 billion infusion into Reliance Jio Platforms in return for a 7.73% stake.
India born Krishna who took over as the CEO of IBM in April also expressed confidence in the PM’s vision of Aatmanirbhar Bharat and briefed him about the investment plans of the company in India. The details of the plans were not immediately available.
Modi said that this is a great time to invest in India and the country is “welcoming and supporting” investments taking place in the tech sector. While the world is witnessing slowdown, FDI inflow in India is increasing. “We are moving forward with the vision of a self-sufficient India so that a globally competent and disruption resilient local supply chain can be developed,” Modi said.
IBM has a large India presence with over 100,000 employees working for its global operations as well as local market. In fiscal year 2019, IBM India reported revenues of $ 3.8 billion in the country.
The two explored the possibilities of creating India specific AI based tools in the healthcare sector and development of better models for disease prediction and analysis. “India is moving towards development of an integrated, tech and data driven healthcare system which is affordable and hassle-free,” Modi said. Krishna appreciated the government’s Ayushman Bharat initiative and talked about using technology for early identification of diseases. Issues of data security, cyber attacks, concerns around privacy, were other areas of discussions.
In order to support government agencies, healthcare organizations and academic institutions throughout the world to battle the Covid crisis, IBM has lent its Artificial Intelligence tool IBM Watson along with expertise in Natural Language Processing from IBM Research, along with AI search capabilities with Watson Discovery.
Krishna also had a discussion with union minister for electronics and IT and communications Ravi Shankar Prasad two weeks earlier. “They are all bullish about India, same is the case with Krishna. IBM is exploring ways of enhancing investment in India right now,” said a top government official.
Modi also told Krishna that the government is committed to ensuring that the technological shift towards ‘work from home’ is smooth by facilitating a conducive infrastructure, connectivity and regulatory environment. IBM has 75% of its employees working from home due to the Covid-19 crisis
IBM has recently partnered with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to launch an AI curriculum in 200 schools in India. The initiative was appreciated by the PM who said that the government is working towards introducing students to concepts such as AI, machine learning etc at an early stage. Krishna said that teaching about technology and data should be in the category of basic skills like algebra, and should be introduced early.