India & Quantum Computing Development & Commercialization
(TheHindu) Serious experimental work in India has been under way for only about five years, and in a handful of locations. What are the constraints on Indian progress in this field? So far, India has been plagued by a lack of sufficient resources, high quality manpower, timeliness and flexibility. The recent announcement of funding in the Budget would greatly help fix the resource problem but high quality manpower is in global demand. In a fast moving field like this, timeliness is everything — delayed funding by even one year is an enormous hit.
A previous programme called Quantum Enabled Science and Technology has just been fully rolled out, more than two years after the call for proposals.
There are some limits that come from how the government must do business with public funds in the development of quantum computing. Here, private funding, both via industry and philanthropy, can play an outsized role even with much smaller amounts. For example, unrestricted funds that can be used to attract and retain high quality manpower and to build international networks — all at short notice — can and will make an enormous difference to the success of this enterprise. This is the most effective way (as China and Singapore discovered) to catch up scientifically with the international community, while quickly creating a vibrant intellectual environment to help attract top researchers.
Connections with Indian industry from the start would also help quantum technologies become commercialised successfully, allowing Indian industry to benefit from the quantum revolution. We must encourage industrial houses and strategic philanthropists to take an interest and reach out to Indian institutions with an existing presence in this emerging field.