Quantum computing research gets Rs 8,000-crore push in Budget 2020 | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Quantum computing research gets Rs 8,000-crore push in Budget 2020

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By, New Delhi
Feb 02, 2020 01:31 PM IST

The announcements were part of a plan meant to encourage a “new economy” that made use of technology such as artificial intelligence, Internet-of-Things, and data analytics.

The Union government plans to spend Rs 8,000 crore over the next five years to push domestic research in quantum computing, Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said during her budget speech on Saturday, when she also announced plans that will help the public and businesses improve access to digital technologies.

According to experts, Saturday’s announcement was significant for its focus on quantum computing.(iStock Photo / Representative Image)
According to experts, Saturday’s announcement was significant for its focus on quantum computing.(iStock Photo / Representative Image)

The announcements were part of a plan meant to encourage a “new economy” that made use of technology such as artificial intelligence, Internet-of-Things, and data analytics. In terms of an immediate spend, the government will pump in Rs 6,000 crore in the coming financial year to expand optical fibre-based high speed internet connectivity to 100,000 gram panchayats.

“The new economy is based on innovations that disrupt established business models. Artificial intelligence, Internet-of-Things (IoT), 3D printing, drones, DNA data storage, quantum computing, etc., are rewriting the world economic order,” the minister said.

To help domestic digital companies, Sitharaman added, the government will bring out a policy to enable private sector to build data centre parks throughout the country. “It will enable our firms to skilfully incorporate data in every step of their value chains,” she said.

The storage of digital data has been a contentious issue, with India’s proposed data protection set to force companies to keep copies of user information on Indian soil – a move that could help domestic industry but upset multinational service providers such as Amazon and Microsoft.

According to experts, Saturday’s announcement was significant for its focus on quantum computing. “This is the next frontier of science and technology. It will make all classical technology of today obsolete. There is already a saturation in classical devices, and based on Moore’s law this is the next 20 years. And, we have to be in the game. With this mission, our investment in quantum technologies will be on par with what China, the EU or the USA made not very long ago,” said Prof Ashutosh Sharma, secretary, department of science and technology.

Moore’s law is the observation that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit doubles every two years – which roughly translates to computing power doubling in the same period.

Quantum computing is based on the physical concept of quantum mechanics – which has the potential of ushering in a new generation of processors that are predicted to have capacities far beyond what current computers are capable of. The most pioneering research in the field has till now been carried out by private firms such as Google and IBM.

The mission will focus on areas such as quantum computing, quantum communication, cryptography and cybersecurity. The safety of internet banking, online transactions, and digital data storage depends in the premise that the current computers cannot solve large prima factorisation problems – which can potentially be broken by quantum computers.

The mission will develop infrastructure and human resources, along with basic research and development of materials that can be used for quantum technologies. Incubation centres will also be set up under the mission to promote startups.

“This mission, too, will follow a hub-and-spoke model, with research centres having linkages to incubation centres,” said Sharma.

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