India has a huge potential to lead the world in metaverse technologies towards Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam
The Indian IT sector, startup culture, and government goal of a $5 trillion digitally driven economy will draw a large and growing youthful population to the Metaverse economy
– By M Manivannan
India will become the global “Metaverse Corridor” thanks to efforts of eXperiential Technology Innovation Center (XTIC) of IIT Madras. To build the ecosystem for the Metaverse by 2047, XTIC is establishing the Metaverse corridor, coining a term similar to India known as the “IT corridor” of the world. XTIC emphasizes the metaverse’s basic principles such as Perceptual Engineering to students in order to make this utopian future a reality. It is emphasizing the fundamental science of the Metaverse to India’s youngsters so as not to repeat the error of turning Indian youths into Cheap Laborers for the world, as was the case with the “IT Corridor” initiative. CAVE (Consortium for Augmented and Virtual Environment Engineering) is an Industrial consortium of XR(AR/VR/MR) led by XTIC that has more than 270 members, primarily entrepreneurs, professional consultants, and corporations from India.
India enjoys its well-earned demographic dividend. Half the population is under the age of 30, they are digitally-connected and fully prepared for the metaverse. India has the most STEM graduates in the world and is well-suited to contribute to high quality digital manpower requirements. The Indian IT sector, startup culture, and government goal of a $5 trillion digitally driven economy will draw a large and growing youthful population to the Metaverse economy.
The new startup culture along with digital transactions like USSD, UPI, and AEPS will propel India’s Metaverse economy. The Metaverse can enhance gaming, education, e-commerce, and virtual real estate, creating new business prospects and revenue streams. India’s IT specialists may discover new metaverse uses for their expertise.
Metaverse challenges include India’s youth’s linguistic plurality. Companies entering India must choose a language to communicate with children from 122 recognised languages and 780 dialects. The Indian market is so large that even “minority” languages are spoken by millions. Metaverse might unite Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam across languages. Meta’s No Language Left Behind (NLLB) effort, which uses open-source models to provide verified, high-quality translations across 200 languages, including 25 Indian languages, will help. Prof. S.Umesh of XTIC’s Speech Lab is developing Cascade Models for numerous Indian languages using Meta’s NLLB model. Its purpose is to allow anyone in Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam to communicate in their mother tongue regardless of linguistic preference.
Without language barriers, Metaverse has enormous potential to democratize education in India given that it is geographically unrestricted and can therefore make quality education readily accessible. While the Internet has revolutionized education by providing unprecedented access to information and resources in 2D screens, Metaverse, which is a 3D extension of the Internet, could offer a sense of presence and shared space for educators to engage and interact with their students. The emphasis on skills in education by the National Education Policy (NEP), especially employable skills, can be easily realized in Metaverse.. Dr. V.Vijayalakshmi of XTIC, with Meta’s support, is examining a variety of techniques to enhance learning in Metaverse through an increased level of student engagement in offline, online, hybrid learning environments and enabling personalization of learning (a focal point in NEP).
Although the Metaverse has immense potential in India, it also comes with its own set of challenges to overcome. First, in terms of Internet connectivity as the Metaverse requires high-speed internet, and many regions in India still struggle with poor connectivity. Second, affordability as the Metaverse requires high-end devices to run smoothly, and limited devices are presently available in India, and still expensive to most of its population in rural India. Third, regulation as the Indian government is yet to come up with specific regulations for the Metaverse, and it is paramount to ensure that the Metaverse does not promote any negative influence or have a negative impact on society. XTIC plans to take the lead in developing open source software on the Bharat OS (BharOS) platform for the metaverse built for the indigenously developed hardware with Shakthi processor being pioneered at IIT Madras.
India is in a good position to lead the world in Metaverse as it is known for its spiritual tradition in the world in which Virtual Reality or Maya is well understood. Unfortunately, the science of Maya or Perception is overlaid with several semi-religious layers. The younger generation has the responsibility of peeling away these layers, bringing in a rigorous scientific approach to unravel the science of Perception and use it to create novel Metaverse technologies.
Eventually, India will drive the Metaverse, in terms of technology, economy, social, and scientific innovation. India’s understanding of human perception – and the host of new fields such as Perceptual Engineering and Perceptual Algebra will steer the Metaverse in the future, however India has to get ready with a scientific mindset. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam is possible only by India, integrating the world, not by religion, race, borders, but by the science of Maya.
India has more to offer to Metaverse than anyone can imagine!
(M Manivannan is a professor at IIT Madras.)