India’s quantum ambitions: Rs 8,000 crore quantum plan, catching up with US

In the long history of modern science, India has a very weak sense of existence, but in the history of quantum mechanics, there are also outstanding figures like Bose, and the famous boson is named after him. Today, as human society enters the second quantum revolution, India has also become a force to be reckoned with.

Just last month, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Alumni Association signed an agreement with Lomonosov State University in Moscow and a Russian software company to build the world’s largest and fastest hybrid quantum computer in India.

India has made no secret of its ambitions in the field of quantum information technology.

With the help of external force, cooperate with the United States and Europe in many ways

Most of the US IT industry executives are of Indian descent, including the CEOs of IBM and Google. Today, Indian-born scientist Saikat Guha has been named director of the Center for Quantum Networks (CQN) at the University of Arizona, which received a $26 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop the quantum internet of the future.

Saikat Guha is from Patna, India, and was admitted to IIT in 2002 before heading to the US. He received his master’s and doctorate degrees from MIT.

More than a decade later, Microsoft came to Saikat’s hometown of Patna to organize a quantum computing training aimed at helping Indian academia build quantum computing capabilities. The project trains 900 teachers from universities and institutes across India, including Patna National Institute of Technology, Indian Institute of Technology, through the School of Electronics and ICT at key Indian institutes.

In the field of quantum computing, India is a latecomer and is using external forces to develop its own quantum computing. At the India Quantum Technology Secret Conference (IQTC2020) in June 2020, the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) organized a webinar on the quest for “quantum supremacy” in India.

The participants discussed the future strategy and roadmap for the development of quantum technology in India, with the US being one of the key players, with prominent figures from the public sector, private sector, industry and academia from India and abroad, including IBM, Microsoft , Honeywell Quantum Solutions, National University of Singapore Center for Quantum Technology.

While the development of quantum computing in India depends on the United States, it is also carrying out multi-party cooperation. On August 26, the IIT Alumni Association announced that it will cooperate with Russia to build the world’s largest and fastest hybrid quantum computer.

According to the signed agreement, Lomonosov Moscow State University and software development outsourcing company Russoft will transfer key modules of cryogenics, cryptography and modular cloud management technology to the IIT Alumni Association. The IIT aims to bring together key technologies from major global players, and the next step will be to build the world’s largest and fastest hybrid quantum computer in India.

India’s quantum ambitions: Rs 8,000 crore quantum plan, catching up with US

These technologies will be used to support solutions to infrastructure challenges in areas such as healthcare, agriculture, transportation and logistics, pollution and weather forecasting.

Ravi Sharma, president of the IIT Alumni Association, said: “Quantum computers will be millions of times faster than India’s largest supercomputers and will also reduce the cost of genomic testing from over £100,000 per sample to under £1,000.”

Not only the United States and Russia, but India is also open to Chinese academia. In 2020, an international conference on Quantum Frontiers and Fundamentals (QFF) organized by the Raman Institute (RRI) invited Academician Pan Jianwei to give a lecture. The conference bridges the gap between academia and industry by sharing the latest research advances in quantum computing.

Status of quantum technology in India, relatively backward

India is fairly new to the field of quantum computing compared to other countries, and for a long time India has not really recognized Potential for quantum correlation research.

IBM’s Indian-born CEO Arvind Krishna said in a 2019 interview that he did not see any Indian startups actively working in quantum computing.

The Indian government showed its emphasis on quantum computing in 2017. At that time, the Ministry of Science and Technology of India launched a new directed research project “Quantum Information Science and Technology” (QuST). The Ministry of Science and Technology believes that QuST is expected to revolutionize the computing and communication systems of the future, which will ultimately have a huge impact on the country and society as a whole.

Overall goals of QuST:

Development and demonstration of quantum computers;

Development and demonstration of quantum communication and cryptography;

The development of quantum enhancement and excitation technologies;

Develop advanced mathematical quantum techniques, algorithms and theory of quantum information systems.

The project is carried out by way of bidding and is open to academicians, scientists, technicians and other researchers of academics, research institutions and registered scientific societies. According to the Ministry of Science and Technology, as of 2018, there are nearly 100 quantum research groups in India, with more than 100 doctoral students.

India has gathered the strength of the whole country and hopes to build a gate-based 4 qubit quantum computer in 3 to 5 years, and realize 4-bit quantum entanglement and quantum algorithms. In the field of quantum communication, demonstrate quantum teleportation, remote state preparation, quantum dense coding; demonstration of quantum key generation between two places and its security analysis.

The project duration is 3 years, which can be extended to 5 years, depending on the overall progress of the QuST program. But the budget is only 27.9 million US dollars for 3 years, and India urgently needs additional budget.

In 2019, India’s Ministry of Science and Technology set up a research project called “Quantum-Enable Science and Technology (QuEST)” at an institute in the southern city of Hyderabad, with a three-year grant of 800 million rupees (about $11 million). .

At the same time, the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) released a quantum technology initiative, hoping to build a superconducting transmon processor with 8 qubits in at least 3 years, to establish a campus-wide quantum communication network, a new innovation in quantum superiority proof and quantum simulation Algorithms, post-quantum cryptography and quantum-secure communication protocols, and more. The specific investment was not disclosed.

India’s very limited investment in quantum technology compared to other countries is one of the reasons why they are lagging behind. India has only just begun research, but private companies like IBM and Google are already fighting for quantum supremacy, and Amazon and Microsoft are already offering cloud services for quantum computing.

Before 2020, India has no coherent initiative to research quantum computing or quantum technology. For example, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is working on satellites for quantum communications. They have different independent groups working across the country, but very little on implementations such as quantum teleportation. Although there are also some quantum key distribution experiments, it is still some distance away from realizing quantum cluster states, distributed network protocols, and ground-air quantum key distribution.

China launched its first quantum communication satellite in 2016, and this year the U.S. Department of Energy also released a blueprint for a quantum internet, while India has not had any breakthrough research in this area.

Entering 2020, the Indian government has realized the urgency of developing quantum technology and is trying to change the relatively backward status quo.

Rs 8,000 crore quantum plan, closely following the US

In March 2020, Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced in the government’s 2020 budget a National Quantum Technology and Applications Mission (NM-QTA) with a five-year mission and a total budget expenditure of 80 billion rupees (about 1.1 billion US dollars) , implemented by the Department of Science and Technology (DST).

Compared with the Indian government’s budget of $27.9 million for quantum computing research in the past five years, the investment has increased by 40 times.

India’s heavy investment in this area puts it on par with China, the US and Europe. In 2016 the European Commission announced 1 billion euros ($1.18 billion) in funding for quantum computing projects. In 2018, U.S. President Trump signed a bill pledging to invest $1.2 billion over five years in a national quantum program. Meanwhile, China has committed more than $2 billion to quantum research over the years.

Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Science and Technology of India, said: “NM-QTA will promote the research and development of quantum technology and related fields, such as quantum computing, quantum cryptography, quantum communication, quantum metrology and sensing, quantum enhanced imaging, etc. I believe that DST will bring The achievements of this cutting-edge technology are brought to the common people and made the country proud.”

India’s quantum ambitions: Rs 8,000 crore quantum plan, catching up with US

Ashutosh Sharma, secretary-general of the Ministry of Science and Technology, noted that the new mission will coordinate the work of scientists, industry leaders in quantum computing, and government departments. The mission will study the application of quantum technologies in computing, but also communications, cryptography and materials development.

NM-QTA will be committed to advancing quantum technology applications, including aerospace engineering, numerical weather prediction, simulation, communications and financial transaction security, cybersecurity, advanced manufacturing, health, agriculture, education and other important fields, leading economic growth.

By promoting advanced research in quantum science and technology, India can keep pace with other advanced countries in technology development and higher education in science, technology and engineering disciplines, said the Ministry of Science and Technology.

In an interview in August this year, Ashutosh Sharma talked about the latest developments in the NM-QTA.

Currently, a detailed report on the project is being drafted, and the Indian Institute of Quantum Technology is tasked with setting tasks and goals. A Supreme Council will also be established, chaired by a scientist in the field. Among the representatives of the Supreme Council, stakeholders (potential application areas of quantum technology), research and development departments, and education departments each account for one-third.

India’s National Quantum Initiative has established a Hub-Spoke-Spike model.

Hub & Spoke is a common model. Hub means hub and Spoke means spoke. It is a centralized system that simplifies network routing and is widely used in aviation, freight, express delivery and network technology.

On this basis, the Hub-Spoke-Spike mode generates multiple Spikes under the Spoke. Hubs represent subordinate bodies of the Supreme Council, Spokes represent research institutes such as the Indian Institutes of Technology, and Spikes represent one or two groups that are working on a particular technology.

According to Sharma, India’s National Quantum Initiative will be ready within a few months. Quantum technology research in India has only just begun, but Sharma believes that India is not irreversibly behind.

He acknowledged that in these frontier technologies, the state has not invested the necessary resources, and semiconductors are an example. India hopes to remedy that with an Rs 800 crore quantum scheme. Ministries such as the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) have begun to focus on this area.

Intellectual property, a hindrance to India’s quantum ambitions

India is currently facing a huge fiscal deficit, potentially negative GDP growth, and drastically reduced taxes. Given this financial situation, state funding for quantum programs may prove difficult. Moreover, it is difficult for India’s capital markets to fill this hole with private investment.

According to a 2019 working paper by the Indian Institute of Industrial Development (ISID), foreign direct investment (FDI) in research and development in India accounted for only 0.4 percent of total FDI inflows to India between 2005 and 2016.

Compared with these, intellectual property protection is one of the biggest obstacles to the development of quantum technology in India.

According to the RS components analysis, from 1998 (12 applications) to 2018 (558 applications), patent applications in the field of quantum computing increased steadily. Another article published last year in the journal Nature highlighted that from 2012 to 2017, China held 43% of the total global quantum technology patents and dominated the field of quantum communication, while the United States and Canada dominated the field of quantum computing. leading position.

Currently, India still applies the 1970 Patents Act in respect of intellectual property protection, which excludes “computer programs themselves or algorithms” from India’s patent rights. Multiple studies on the Indian patent system have shown that the results of R&D carried out in India are often transferred to multinational corporations abroad, where they are further developed, and then patent the innovation abroad.

India’s quantum ambitions lack a strong policy framework to back it up. Freezing three feet is not a day’s cold, and how far it can go in quantum technology depends on India’s determination to reform.

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