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Business News/ News / India/  ‘India’s Quantum Mission geopolitically key, to be actualized soon’
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‘India’s Quantum Mission geopolitically key, to be actualized soon’

Sood said his office is also involved in “making the framework of the mission”

Ajay Kumar Sood, principal scientific advisor (PSA) to the Centre.Premium
Ajay Kumar Sood, principal scientific advisor (PSA) to the Centre.

NEW DELHI : India’s 6,000-crore quantum mission, announced in April this year, will be put in motion “very soon", with the Department of Science and Technology (DST) putting “an appropriate structure for it in place", said Ajay Kumar Sood, principal scientific advisor (PSA) to the Centre.

He also said his office is also involved in “making the framework of the mission." Sood was speaking at industry body Assocham’s Quantum Technology Conclave.

The mission, and all the development work around it, will be “crucial in geopolitical strategies," Sood said.

“Adopting quantum technologies is not a choice any longer—today, it is a question of getting in at the earliest. For example, a traditional supercomputer will take 100 trillion years to break 128-bit encryption code. Quantum computers will take only a fraction of (this) time to do this, and that is what should worry us all," he said.

“Post-quantum cryptography is an enormously important field, and we should be investing here, because if you have 50-qubit or higher quantum computers, it will not take long to break codes.

The economic potential of quantum computing, and the impact on global digital economies, are staring at us—this is crucial in terms of geopolitical strategies. Hence, we need to see how quantum computing can be applied in our business and governance models," Sood added.

The National Quantum Mission was announced on 19 April by union information and broadcasting minister Anurag Singh Thakur and minister of state for science Jitendra Singh. With a budget of 6,003.6l5 crore over eight years it aims to develop 50 to 1,000 qubits of quantum computing hardware, 2,000 km of quantum communications network, and foster a domestic ecosystem of quantum research.

On 18 July, Mint reported that a vision document on the quantum mission was in the works, and was expected to be published in August.

Sood, citing global data from last year, highlighted that India is among the top nations committed to developing quantum capabilities.

“An enormous amount of effort is being put behind this all over the world, and nearly $30 billion in investment on quantum computing was promised in 2022. India, in this regard, is promising $800 million to $1 billion," he said.

“In Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), a 5-qubit quantum computer has been made, while a second 7-qubit computer will also be ready in the next few months. Beyond these too, companies can buy time with quantum computers over cloud through companies like IBM, which some academic institutes have already done in order to apply quantum technologies to the banking sector. Amazon, too, is one such hardware provider."

“Indian use cases are developing too—a quantum key distribution (QKD) link between Sanchar Bhavan and NIC headquarters in Delhi has been live since earlier this year," he said.

“This enables transmission of data through quantum communications networks over 150-200 km, but going forward, we need to do it across 2,000 km. Other entities experimenting with quantum repeaters and related technologies include IIT Madras, C-DAC and more," he added.

In April this year, Mint reported largely positive responses among the industry and academia on the announcement of the quantum mission.

Anil Prabhakar, principal investigator at Centre of Excellence on Quantum Information, Communication and Computing at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras, said at the time that the mission could boost advanced theoretical research into applications in the field of quantum computing.

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Shouvik Das
Shouvik Das is a science, space and technology reporter for Mint and TechCircle. In his previous stints, he worked at publications such as CNN-News18 and Outlook Business. He has also reported on consumer technology and the automobile sector.
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Published: 05 Oct 2023, 10:47 PM IST
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