The Budget proposal to provide an outlay of Rs 8,000 crore for quantum computing will put India in the same league as China, the US and Europe says Arogyaswami J Paulraj, (Emeritus), Department of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University, California.
“Our current base in this technology is small and this massive investment is a great opportunity for Indian science,” Prof. Paulraj, who chaired the government of India 5G Steering Committee and was honored with the Marconi Prize, a Nobel equivalent for technology, for developing the Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) technology, the key to all modern wireless networks told to indica.
Presenting India’s Union Budget 2020, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman noted that quantum technology is opening up new frontiers in computing, communications, and cyber security with wide-spread applications. It can also assist in a big way in Blockchain-based industries like banking and finance, digital identity, energy and sustainability, government and the public sector, healthcare and the life sciences, international trade and commodities, law, media and entertainment.
When asked if Quantum technology is still at its nascent stage Prof. Paulraj said, “Quantum Computing (QC) has been in development in Europe and US for nearly two decades, but [it has been] attracting increasing investments recently.”
Explaining further he said that practical Quantum Computing technology is perhaps still five to ten years out. QC has the potential to speed up certain classes of computation that are impossible with current digital computers.
“There has been some skepticism about whether QC will ever become practical, but those doubts, not yet extinguished, are beginning to fade,” said Prof. Paulraj.
Sitharaman noted that India has always embraced new paradigms such as the sharing economy with aggregator platforms and displacing conventional businesses would enable direct benefit transfers and financial inclusion.
Prof. Paulraj also welcomed the finance minister announcement to boost electronic manufacturing.
He said that this sector has been dominated by China and Taiwan but is now moving to Vietnam and Thailand. Electronics manufacturing (e.g., the testing and assembly of phones and routers) will create valuable jobs, though mostly at low skill levels. India has made good progress in recent months in this sector and the continued budget support is very welcome.
“A pressing strategic priority for India is to build a design capability in Core ICT (Computing, Communications and AI) technologies. Core ICT examples are data center systems, 4G radios, semiconductors and opto-electronic chips. Currently 99.7% of Core-ICT technology and the underlying Intellectual Property is imported. Building Indian industrial capability (i.e., companies like ZTE or Broadcom) in Core ICT must be a national imperative,” said Prof. Paulraj.