AI Adoption: Behooves Heightened Responsibility & Higher Ethics

In July 2022, UK-based Artificial Intelligence (AI) firm Peak commissioned a benchmarking survey to study AI adoption in the USA, UK, and India. The study, jointly conducted by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, included 3000 senior decision-makers from companies with at least 100 employees; the survey was augmented by responses from 3000 middle-level staff as well.

A key finding was the inaugural Decision Intelligence (DI) Maturity Index, an indicator of how prepared businesses in these three jurisdictions were to adopt AI for commercial decision-making. The study found that over the past six years, the percentage of companies that have adopted AI technologies stood at 28%, 20% and 25% in the US, UK, and India respectively. While it was only expected that the US would be the leader, it was surprising that when it comes to leveraging AI in commercial areas, Indian companies ranked highest- they scored 64 (out of 100), while those in the US and UK respectively scored 52 and 44. 

The study also found that 18 % of US workers were unsure whether the companies they work for used AI at all; for India this figure stood at 2%. It was also revealing that Indian enterprises embedded data sciences capabilities within commercial teams, while their western counterparts relied more on central data teams[1]. Of course, it must be acknowledged that China is perhaps much further ahead in terms of deploying AI, although we will likely not get to know the details anytime soon.


AI will play a major role in how our world evolves


Consumers like you and me already experience the power of AI in the form of reminders from fitness apps or what books to read, shows to watch or music to listen etc. Intelligent parking assistance in some cars is another example of AI in action. AI is also at work when we see “deep fake” videos that look and sound so real. AI is not a new field; it has in fact been around since the late 1950s, which is when the term was coined. But it is only in recent years that AI has become less esoteric and more mainstream. 

This shift is due to rapid advances in computing power and speeds as also evolution of models and capabilities around natural language processing, voice recognition, machine vision and other allied areas. It is this pace and nature of AI evolution that gives experts the confidence that AI will play a key role in economic and social development, delivery of education and healthcare services, forecasting natural disasters and managing them, national security and much more.

Several national flagship infrastructure backbones in India, including the GST and Income Tax systems, Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC), Government e-Marketplace (GeM), the Unified Logistics Interface Platform (ULIP) and the Gati Shakti National Master Plan already have elements of AI embedded in them. India’s private sector too, has been actively working on AI-based projects and products that span different use cases and industry sectors.


India is taking steps to prevent unbridled use of AI- but “there are miles to go before we sleep”


A couple of decades ago, movie franchises such as “The Matrix” and “The Terminator” conjured up a world where machines take over the world. Today, the world is closer to being at a stage where inadvertent or deliberate misuse of AI can unleash unknowable harm to society. It can be argued that human avarice has already damaged our planet beyond redemption, but we have done that without much help from AI!

There have already been instances reported in media where the use of AI in some applications has thrown up evidence of discrimination and bias-negative traits that are patently human. The companies behind these applications have rolled them back but they signal a clear and present danger. There has also been much debate in recent times about whether AI-based programs are truly “sentient” i.e., capable of feelings. Maybe we are still some years away from truly sentient machines- or maybe they are already here. Either way, it is important to ensure that AI is governed by appropriate ethics to make it “responsible.”

Clearly, AI has great power; it must therefore also be used with great responsibility. “Responsible AI” has many dimensions, including reliability, safety, privacy, transparency, fairness, and accountability. Just as important is for humans to know how an AI system arrived at a certain conclusion or decision. While most of the above have to do with how AI powered devices and applications are designed and built, it is also critical to ensure that ethics govern how these devices and apps are deployed and what they are used for. 

In the absence of such mechanisms (and punitive actions for violators), think of the myriad privacy incursions that can be easily caused by physical surveillance using drones or digital eavesdropping of phone conversations. Even AI-powered software in place to analyze CVs to identify the “best” candidates can be misused to ensure that only candidates of a certain profile are hired.

AI ethics and governance needs to cover more than just individual companies that develop AI tools and applications. All stakeholders must work together to put in place an overarching framework that includes policies, laws, rules, and SOPs to ensure that AI does not become a Pandora’s Box. A key objective must be to ensure that there is mutual trust.

To support India’s burgeoning AI ecosystem, the Niti Ayog has begun to hold consultative discussions. Its report “AI for All” is grounded in the fundamental rights enshrined in India’s constitution. It suggests setting up of an expert committee comprising specialists in AI, cybersecurity, social scientists, law, various industry domains and representatives of government and civil society to create a regulatory/governance framework. 

Such a framework must necessarily be flexible, to accommodate unexpected changes powered by technological innovations. NASSCOM, India’s software industry association, has launched a Responsible AI hub to ensure that key stakeholders are engaged so that broader societal views are considered and factored into strategies and plans related to not just innovations, development, and deployment but also governance.

A survey by IBM Institute for Business Value has found that the responsibility for leading and upholding ethics has shifted to the CEO. 62% of business leaders agree that AI ethics is important to their organizations. It is a given that the world will never be a utopia. It is time that “leaders” in every field from around the world stand up and take necessary steps to prevent the world from becoming an AI-powered dystopia. AI is too important a domain to be left to the whims and fancies of individual countries, companies, or leaders- whether democratic, despotic, megalomaniac, idealistic or somewhere in between.

AI ethics and governance needs to cover more than just individual companies that develop AI tools and applications. All stakeholders must work together to put in place an overarching framework that includes policies, laws, rules, and SOPs to ensure that AI does not become a Pandora’s Box. The key objective must be to ensure that there is mutual trust.


Insights on the National Logistics Policy, 2022

On September 17, 2022, the National Logistics Policy (“NLP”) was unveiled by the Prime Minister. The objectives of the NLP are broadly aimed at enhancing efficiency across the logistics value chain by improving connectivity across destinations, adopting technology, simplifying procedural documentation and strengthening the warehousing sector.

While India ranks 44th on the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index of 2018, the NLP envisions improving India’s ranking to feature amongst the top 25 countries by 2030. The NLP proposes to support this upward journey by means of the initiatives detailed hereinafter.

Identifying the Action Areas

The Comprehensive Logistics Action Plan (CLAP) envisaged in the NLP identifies the following action areas wherein the policy aims to undertake interventions:

  • Developing an ‘Integrated Digital Logistics Systems’ to create a cross-sectoral database for logistics stakeholders.
  • Setting standardisation norms for assets and benchmarking quality of services.
  • Developing human resource and skill building aligned towards logistics by the ministries involved in different sectors.
  • Supporting state level logistics plans and institutional framework development.
  • Streamlining EXIM (export-import) processes to improve trade competitiveness and integration with global value chains.
  • Improving regulatory interface in the logistics sector.
  • Formulating ‘Sectoral Plans for Efficient Logistics’ in different sectors to complement the development of facilitative processes in logistics management.
  • Developing a network of logistics parks, including Multi-Modal Logistics Parks (“MMLPs”),[1] by providing framework guidelines for the development of these parks and encouraging private sector investment in the same.

Inducing Standardisation

The NLP emphasises standardisation with the aim of reducing cost and improving efficiency. To provide a compilation of existing operational standards, the launch of the NLP was accompanied by the launch of the ‘E-Handbook on Warehousing Standards’,[i] which will act as a guiding document for inter alia manufacturers, commerce agencies, logistics service providers, and others involved in the logistics sectors. The E-Handbook on Warehousing Standards, inter alia, prescribed the standards for the construction of warehouses, palletisation standards, and transportation standards.

The NLP foresees that standardisation would support the development of the co-warehousing segment, which allows businesses to use common warehouse and allied office space as per requirement. This will be beneficial to small businesses and start-ups and will also open up another avenue for private sector investments in the Indian warehousing market.

Improving Interfaces

The NLP provides for development of two main portals, viz., the ‘Unified Logistics Interface Platform’ (“ULIP”) and ‘E-LogS: Dashboard for Ease of Logistics Services’ (“E-Logs”), to provide digital platforms that facilitate the regulatory and operational processes in the logistics sector. The key features of the aforementioned portals are summarised below:

Feature ULIP E-Logs
Objective To provide a single window platform that enables the exchange of information on a real-time basis amongst different stakeholders. Furthermore, to ensure the authenticity of every logistics department transaction. To provide a digital system for registering and monitoring problems encountered in the logistics sector and facilitating time-bound resolution of the same.
Key Constituents

Comprised of three layers, the Integration layer and the Governance layer of this platform provide for coordination amongst different ministries and departments.

The third layer, being the Presentation layer, is to be developed by private players to provide an interface with the end-customer.

This dashboard will be accessible to registered users who can login to register their issues with supporting documentation and communicate the same to other stakeholders using the same portal.

Decisions on such issues will be taken by the relevant ministry/department and the decision will be uploaded by the Service Improvement Group (“SIG”), which is responsible for overall coordination and monitoring in relation to E-Logs.

The NLP provides that the SIG will be constituted by nominated officers from various ministries and will be tasked with the resolution of issues pertaining to “services, documentation, processes and policy, along with the identification of interventions for improving the user interface.

Benefit to Stakeholders

It is expected that ULIP will, inter alia, help:

·         Governmental agencies can access information for better planning;

·          allow transporters to track cargo in real time and identify cheaper logistics modes; and

·         simplify the documentation process for logistics service providers and enable value-added services for end customers.

Authorized users who are dissatisfied with the resolution of their issues can track the progress of the resolution and make suggestions.


Way Ahead

The NLP sets a positive tone for the efficient expansion of logistics services in India by addressing fundamental concerns such as time and efficiency of transportation, reducing logistics costs, and simplifying operational and regulatory processes with technology-based interventions. In addition to the above-summarised features, the NLP also focuses on ‘Logistics Ease Across Different States’ (LEADS), which is a survey taken across states and union territories to assess the viewpoint of stakeholders, document issues faced on the ground in relation to the logistics sector, and identify mitigation measures to ameliorate the identified issues. This reflects the efforts being made towards the development of practically viable mechanisms that facilitate improvements in the logistics sector, which is further strengthened by the framework of the NLP.

The realisation of the policy objectives, however, largely depends on achieving coordination amongst the different central ministries and other stakeholders. Given that state governments may have their own policies framed around the development of logistics parks, it is important to ensure that states adapt the National Logistics Policy in harmony with the existing benefits being offered for setting up logistics parks under state-specific policies, especially when it comes to setting up MMLPs. Ensuring the existence of statutory provisions in relation to the components of NLP would help provide a check on the working of the mechanisms stipulated thereunder. For instance, rules and regulations on management of information communicated via ULIP and E-Logs can provide a safe transaction environment for stakeholders utilising these portals.

A major concern of players in the logistics sector linked to the cost of financing logistics projects, may continue to pose an obstacle while addressing the objectives of the policy. Thus, formulating ancillary options for availing finance at discounted rates would be a boost to the policy. Similarly, the inclusion of an exemption on Goods and Services Tax could help ease the burden of compliance under the policy for smaller players.


[1] MMLPs are aimed at providing a host of facilities in the logistics chain such as storage, distribution and facilitating transportation by serving as a common point for shift in intramodal transportation of goods.

[2] Logistics Division, Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, E-Book on Launch of National Logistics Policy.

[3] E-Handbook on Warehousing Standards- available at pdf (

[4] The World Bank, Country Score Card: India 2018, available at Country Score Card: India 2018 | Logistics Performance Index (


While India ranks 44th on the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index of 2018, the NLP envisions improving India’s ranking to feature amongst the top 25 countries by 2030. The NLP proposes to support this upward journey by means of the initiatives detailed hereinafter