April 22, 2024

‘You need people with expertise in AI’: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman talks AI and calls for financial literacy

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman emphasised the need for a comprehensive integration of financial literacy within the educational curriculum during her address at A M Jain College. She advocated, “Teaching financial literacy was very important and it has to start early.”

Expressing concern that financial literacy is presently imparted outside the academic framework, Sitharaman highlighted the significance of including it within school and college curricula. “You have institutions like the RBI, SEBI and also some national security depositories. Financial literacy lessons are online too, spread over a couple of weeks, if you want to take that. But it should be taught in schools and colleges as part of the curriculum,” she stated.

Responding to a query on import-export dynamics, Sitharaman clarified, “Ideally I would like to have the exports more than the imports because it gives earnings. But if imports are going to gradually improve your exports, why not? If imports are there, it’s good sometimes.”

Touching upon defence production, Sitharaman outlined the government’s efforts to promote indigenous manufacturing of defence equipment for the armed forces. She mentioned budgetary provisions encouraging MSMEs and highlighted the certification of products by the Indian army to facilitate exports. She also highlighted the Centre’s mechanism enabling a ten-year purchase plan for such products.

Citing Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Sitharaman noted a positive trajectory in defence equipment exports, expecting them to touch the Rs 24,000 crore mark in three months from the current Rs 20,000 crore.

Regarding bilateral trade discussions, the Union Minister mentioned ongoing talks with African countries, Russia, and Sri Lanka, focusing on trade in Indian rupees.

Addressing concerns about Artificial Intelligence (AI) impacting jobs, Sitharaman dismissed the belief and instead highlighted its potential to create skilled manpower to tackle diverse challenges. “You need people with expertise in AI. To use AI you need to develop the tools with which you can exploit the capacity of AI. Obviously, it will be done by people like you students,” she remarked.

Highlighting the potential emergence of new domains and corresponding expertise due to AI, Sitharaman concluded, “Certain new domain expertise that emerges would generate so many types of people and skill, too, with which AI could be exploited.”

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