IoT, AI for Jobs in Agriculture and Healthcare in Rural India: BIF Seminar

BIF Seminar was conducted in New Delhi on using IoT and AI skilling of the youth in rural India to create jobs in healthcare and agriculture

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Broadband India Forum (BIF), a think tank for Digital Transformation held a seminar in New Delhi on the 3rd of July on ‘The Impact of IoT on Jobs in Rural India’ to highlight the positive impact of AI and IoT on job creation in agriculture and healthcare sectors in India. As part of the seminar, BIF also released the findings of an on-going study that has being done in consultation with the Electronics Skill Council of India, Agriculture Skill Council of India and the Healthcare Sector Skill Council. The study highlights that IoT and AI based applications can have a transformational impact with regards to rural job creation and at a conservative estimate, will create over 2.8 million jobs in rural India over a period of 8-10 years with an annual value of Rs. 60,000 crores (approx. US$ 8.9 billion). Of this, at least 2.1 million jobs will be created for the agriculture sector and another 0.7 million jobs will be created for the rural healthcare sector.These jobs will be created over next 8 – 10 years and the pace and quantity of job creation is likely to further increase post 2021-22 once 5G technology is implemented. The Electronics Skill Council of India, Agriculture Skill Council of India and Healthcare Sector Skill Council of India have also supported BIF in this seminar and a formal report on the study is expected to be released shortly.




Some of the highlights of the ongoing study were presented by Devendranath, COO, Feedback Consulting which is conducting this research jointly along with BIF, about the principal challenges affecting the Indian agriculture sector, where land holdings are getting smaller and farm incomes are declining. The percentage of employment in Indian agriculture sector has consistently reduced from 52% in 2010 to 42% in 2018. The potential of IoT based applications in reversing this trend represents a huge positive impact. The study highlights that key applications such as Satellite Mapping, Electronic Market Place, Livestock Traceability, Climate Sensing Stations, Product Traceability and Agriculture Drones have the potential to transform the ailing sector. These applications will help create smart farms and will bring lot more predictability in agriculture output which in turn will help improve incomes and lives of farmers.


The key applications that will generate employment in the agriculture sector across rural India are:

# Applications Realistic Job Creation Potential
1 Satellite Mapping 255,343
2 E-Market 122,530
3 Livestock Traceability 891,030
4 Product Traceability 13,403
5 Climate Sensing 316,430
6 Agriculture Drones 522,640
  Total 2,121,376
Job Role Creation in Agriculture (Nos)
1 Field Worker 1,377,650
2 Drone Flyer 520,000
3 Data Analysts 109,451
4 Agri Quality Certifiers 52,500
5 Warehouse Managers 17,500
6 Geo Tagging Persons 44,000
7 Software / App Developers 175


The study also highlights the significant potential when it comes to job creation through IoT in the rural Healthcare sector. At present as much as 60% of India’s healthcare professionals serve 30% of the population (residing in urban India). This trend is likely to change as leading healthcare service providers open new specialty hospitals in Tier 3 and Tier 4 towns. The government’s Ayushman Bharat initiative is also expected to transform the primary healthcare sector in the country and will help introduce IoT based applications to a rural patient ecosystem. Applications like Remote Medical Assistance & Surgery, Smart Diagnosis, Cloud Based Eye Screening, Pre-Emptive Oncology Diagnosis, Smart Ambulance &Emergency Care, Medical Record Digitization, and Smart Consulting can help bridge the gap between rural healthcare centres and urban hospitals.

The key applications that will generate employment in the healthcare sector across rural India are:

# Applications Realistic Job Creation Potential
1 Remote Medical Assistance & Surgery 485,000
2 Smart Pathology 153,000
3 Cloud based eye screening 65,650
4 Oncology Diagnosis 75,750
5 Ambulance & Emergency Care 15,150
6 Medical Record Digitisation 300,000
  Total           1,139,550
Job Role Creation in Healthcare (Nos)
1 Skilled Nurse (upskilling) 315,000
2 Data Entry Experts (new job) 300,000
3 Health Workers / Professionals (new jobs) 290,000
4 Ayush Doctors (upskilling) 150,000
5 Data Analysis (new jobs) 54,550
6 PHC Maintenance Staff (new jobs) 30,000

In his inaugural address, Yaduvendra Mathur, Special Secretary, NITI Aayog said, “There is no denying the role that avant-garde technologies such as IoT and AI can play in the agriculture and healthcare sectors – especially in rural areas. India is the Saudi Arabia for generation of data.. It is important to realize that India has the hardware, we have the data scientists, we have the algorithms – what we don’t have is real-time, clearly labelled and relevant data from the field.  From a Niti Aayog perspective, our focus is on data and that we get access to real-time data that can impact the creation of policy. We are therefore looking at a huge volume of real-time data being harvested from both the healthcare and agriculture domains and shared with us. A lot of work using AI is currently already underway by the government in the healthcare domain – for example the programme for the elimination of Tuberculosis is using AI to improve TB diagnosis. From an agriculture perspective, AI and IoT are important because the diversification of Indian agriculture will not happen unless the farmer trusts the data that is shared with him. This will also require the participation of the private sector, specifically start-ups in the collation of labelling of this data, which in itself will create a huge number of jobs at the data-labelling level.”


Dr. Saikrishna Nanduri, CEO, National Skills Sector Council in his address said, “Indian agriculture employs 50% of manpower and we’ve been seeing declining levels of employment as people leave the sector for better opportunities. The net contribution to the GDP also remains low. IoT and AI can make a huge contribution to transforming Indian agriculture, specifically with regards to productivity enhancement. What is a huge enabler to this is also the high levels of digital literacy in India and our demographic dividend that makes us the world’s youngest country. We need to begin by data collection and aggregation – much of it through start-ups. This data will need to be collated and labelled by large Big Data companies and public sector organisations. Once this is done it can be integrated into the user interface and then used by communities, organisations and individuals who will gladly even pay for this.”

TV Ramachandran, President, Broadband India Forum further added, “It is no secret that the impact of AI and IoT will be truly transformational across industry. The BIF report, for the very first time, shares very significant findings in relation to the impact of IoT on job creation in rural India, specific to agriculture and healthcare.Given India’s young demographic profile, sustained job creation is the most critical aspect to keep the wheels of the economy running. Rural India, with 50% of the country’s workforce needs to ensure that it garners a significant share of this."

A Sheshagiri Rao, CMD, TCIL, said, "Mobile tech is a disruptive tech for us. Our own manufacturing sector is not able to meet the demands. There is a financial stress on it and telecom is not able to create a lot of jobs. The broadband has a wide acceptance. A new technology always goes through opposition and criticism. Once it is accepted, we get the value from it. As far as the IT and business market in India is concerned, the IoT is going to be the game changer. However, connectivity is required for it and that’s why 5G is important. The doctors are using different types of tools and techniques to check the patients. The govt has supported the enhancement of healthcare. There is a long waiting queue in the hospitals. This should be eliminated by the new age devices."



Kavita Bhatia, Scientist (F) & Director, MeitY, said, "We have started incubating health sector start ups. They are experimenting with AI and IoT enabled equipments, which can set off alarms when a patient’s condition declines, a child is hungry etc. Trial run is being done in AIIMS. If we develop these techs in India then they’ll have a large market outside. We need the support of the industry in taking these experiments forward. Already MeitY has announced an open data policy. Agencies who are using govt money to develop data should publish reports."

SS Arya, CEO, Agriculture Sector Skill Council, said, "Skill Councils facilitate the training partners to train the trainers by standard certification. Traditional knowledge transferred from one generation to another has disappeared. If we’re adding an Australia to the country’s population the aerable land is declining. The new generation wants to move out of agriculture because self-esteem is not connected to this field. Digitisation of agriculture can raise its esteem and can retain the agricultural youth to stay in this vocation."

SN Gupta, Chairman, India & BIMSTEC, said, "When it comes to funding, then the govt has to play a role. There are 17 Sustainable Development Zones (SDZ). Data Privacy Bill has been introduced in the Parliament. Implementation of programmes should be there. India has no patent software.  Money will come from patents. Jobs will not go away in medical and agriculture sectors, if we use the skill gap analysis and skill the people. We have to install 20 million hotspots to have internet access. The gateway will be in the cloud. Edge computing can bring the gateway to the village to enhance connectivity."

Anil Prakash, DG, BIF, gave the vote of thanks.

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