Office of Principal Scientific Advisor to GoI

India Celebrates World Quantum Day 2024 - Aspires to lead in Quantum Science and Technology


Posted On: 13 APR 2024 5:45PM by PIB Delhi

India celebrates World Quantum Day 2024 on April 14, 2024, with aspirations to become a global leader in various fields of Quantum Science and Technology.

Quantum Mechanics, the study of atoms and sub-atomic particles, has now advanced to such an extent that it has now moved to the engineering domain and is leading to novel and varied applications. Researchers worldwide have utilized its principles to develop technologies such as LEDs, lasers, and ultra-precise atomic clocks used in the Global Positioning System. Considerable attention is now being paid to controlling and manipulating quantum systems for Quantum Computing, Quantum Communications, and Quantum Sensing applications. To advance the awareness and appreciation of quantum science and technology among the public worldwide, an international initiative was taken in 2022, commemorated annually as the World Quantum Day on April 14th.

Prof. Ajay Kumar Sood, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India emphasized the global impact of quantum technology: “Quantum Technology is the new technology frontier, reached after decades of fundamental research leading to our ability to exploit the principles of superposition, entanglement, and measurement. It promises to lead to applications with immense potential for the global economy in areas ranging from medicine to the discovery of advanced materials, and from safe communication to extremely sensitive sensors.”

Discussing quantum technology’s global reach and the need to eliminate potential threats by quantum computers, Prof. Sood said,  “Governments and private players in almost all scientifically advanced nations are investing heavily in its development and exploitation to tap its immense potential for enhancing computing, communication, and sensing capabilities with significant implications for national prosperity and security. The threat emerging from quantum computers that breaches the encryption algorithms used by conventional computing systems needs to be addressed by PQC and QKD to make the world quantum-safe. Ensuring ethical development and deployment of quantum technology will also become important as newer applications get developed, and for this, engagement with a wide range of stakeholders ─scientists, policymakers, industry leaders, civil society organizations, and the public ─ must continue.”

Regarding India’s plans to excel in quantum technology on the global stage, Prof. Sood expressed optimism and confidence and mentioned that India’s National Quantum Mission (NQM) will bolster India's competitiveness by leveraging the national strengths built through previous R&D initiatives and strengthening them further in a focused and directed manner.

The National Quantum Mission (NQM), conceptualized by the Prime Minister Science Technology Advisory Council (PM-STIAC) received Cabinet approval on April 19, 2023 with a total outlay of Rs 6003.65 Crore for a period of eight years. The Mission aims to seed, nurture, and scale up scientific and industrial R&D and create a vibrant & innovative ecosystem in Quantum Technology (QT). This will accelerate QT-led economic growth, nurture the ecosystem in the country, and make India one of the leading nations in the development of QT and applications.

Being implemented by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), NQM envisages well-orchestrated and synergistic efforts through a hub-spoke-spike model, involving Centres of Excellence (CoEs), consortia projects, individual scientist-centric projects, etc. This mission is guided by a Mission Governing Board (MGB) chaired by Dr. Ajai Chowdhry and assisted by the Mission Technology Research Council (MTRC) chaired by the PSA to the Government of India.

The Mission aims to establish four Thematic Hubs (T-Hubs) in domains such as (i) Quantum Computing, (ii) Quantum Communication, (iii) Quantum Sensing & Metrology, and (iv) Quantum Materials & Devices. A Call for Pre-Proposals to establish T-Hubs was given on January 20, 2024, inviting contributions from academic institutions and R&D labs.

Underscoring DST’s pivotal role in taking India’s quantum mission forward, Prof. Abhay Karandikar, Secretary, DST, said, “India is one of the few countries making concerted efforts to leapfrog in quantum technologies and has reasons to be optimistic to become a leader in the area as it is still evolving. DST has taken up the challenge to build a world-class R&D capability in quantum technologies. Central to its efforts is the setting up of four hubs in Quantum Computing, Quantum Communication, Quantum Sensing & Metrology, and Quantum Materials & Devices.”

Prof. Karandikar also underlined that NQM will be a consortium of academia and R&D labs in collaboration with startups and industry. This will help bring talents in the relevant areas across the country to work together for the development of the technology and its translation in myriad areas.

Dr. Ajai Chowdhry, Chairman, MGB and Founder HCL Technologies highlighted the importance of quantum technology in the digital economy and geopolitics for India: "On this World Quantum Day, the nation's decision to embark on the National Quantum Mission and seize the opportunities presented by the quantum revolution is a source of immeasurable hope and delight. The imminent economic potential and consequential effects of quantum computing on worldwide digital economies are critical considerations for geopolitical strategies. The substantial financial investment of ₹6,000 crore in the National Quantum Mission will undoubtedly facilitate the advancement of research and innovation across numerous sectors, benefiting scientists, researchers, and startups throughout the country.”

Dr. Chowdhry also stressed the importance of quantum cryptography and encryption as an indispensable component of protecting critical institutions such as Banks and Electrical grids which will be required to implement quantum cryptography to improve security. He reiterated his confidence that the country will endeavour to achieve predetermined standards in the realm of QT by NQM.

Prof. Urbasi Sinha, Quantum Information and Computing Lab, Raman Research Institute and India Representative on the World Quantum Day Network shared her remarks on NQM: “As a country representative for the World Quantum Day network, I am very excited with the boom in quantum technologies that the country is currently witnessing with the impetus that has been received through the National Quantum Mission and look forward to contributing majorly to all the above efforts as a part of the Mission.”

Asserting the importance of research and development on Quantum Communications, Prof. Sinha said, “India has made significant advances in the domain of secure quantum communications, both in fibre as well as free space domain with several ground-based milestones achieved over the last few years. Through the National Quantum Mission and beyond, we are looking forward to further leaps in long-distance quantum communications. We are aiming to have a country-wide free space quantum key distribution  (QKD) network by using a satellite as a trusted node as well as a fibre-based QKD network. We will also make advances towards multi-node quantum repeater networks for entanglement distribution-based quantum communication. Going forward, India envisages being a lead player in the quest towards the global quantum internet, which would involve connecting India with other countries through quantum communication links.”

Conveying his good wishes on the occasion of World Quantum Day, Prof. R Vijayraghavan, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research said, “With the launch of the National Quantum Mission, India is gearing up to develop not only quantum software but also build state-of-the-art quantum computing hardware for practical applications. Happy World Quantum Day!”

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