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“Young Voices” member describes India’s quantum policies and what needs to be done to make them practically relevant

By IQT News posted 22 Dec 2021

(OrfOnline.org) The Observer Research Foundation (ORF) has published an article by its “Young Voices” member Prachi Mishra about India’s quantum policies and what needs to be done to make the practically relevent. IQT-News summaries that article below.
NOTE: ORF’s Young Scholars engage with and present their views on conversations and debates on pressing national and global issues.
India formally joined the race to quantum computing by establishing the National Mission for Quantum Technology and Applications (NM-QTA) in 2020. However, for India to match pace with China and the US, it must identify and address a few key policy gaps. These will not only make India a competent contender in the global quantum race but also usher a new paradigm of technology policymaking in the country.
Firstly, the quantum ecosystem in India is loosely built. While India has given a billion-dollar push to quantum computing, a comprehensive multi-stakeholder network is amiss. It is not clear whether India will focus on near-term quantum applications or long-term applications or both. Translating research into real-world applications should be at the core of India’s quantum efforts.
Next, metrics to assess the outcomes of India’s quantum efforts are not clearly defined. Merely achieving quantum supremacy will not necessarily safeguard India’s national interests.
When it comes to capacity and skilled professionals, India has a small talent pool in the realm of quantum computing. At present, there are just a few hundred researchers, industry professionals, academicians, and entrepreneurs in the quantum computing field of the country. Compared to China or the US, India lags far behind.
Also, quantum application development will require various aspects of the technology, like quantum information theory, quantum communication, storage, quantum computation, and quantum hardware development to come together. India will also need to increase its compute power and work towards developing more complex semiconductor chips to realise its quantum potential. At present, research is carried out in silos and knowledge exchange is not structured. A common platform for all quantum research and development in the country is lacking.
Lastly, most quantum-related research and development is carried out at university campuses. While academia can provide for well-researched prototypes, industry connect is essential for developing them into scalable applica
To address gaps at the policy-level, India should develop metrics to assess the success of its strategy and action plan. The Department of Science and Technology launched the Quantum-Enabled Science and Technology (QuEST) initiative to invest INR 80 crores to lay out infrastructure and to facilitate research in the field. While the plan seems detailed and visionary on paper, a periodic feedback system needs to be developed to map the progress of its objectives. One such indicator could be the number of patents filed. Monitoring and evaluation of the quantum mission must be given a strong thrust.

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