In an era of cyber wars, India needs a fortified computing ecosystem - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

In an era of cyber wars, India needs a fortified computing ecosystem

Jun 09, 2022 08:42 PM IST

Recent progress by the State has showcased the government’s intent. But a holistic strategy is in need to facilitate its further advancement.

Advanced mechanisms have taken over the field of computing, with nation-States, along with private companies, embroiled in a high-stakes race to increase indigenous computing power for economic and strategic purposes. With India’s data generation at an all time high, there is a need to improve computational capabilities by using advanced computing technologies.

While India has a dedicated supercomputer programme, there has been no dedicated government policy for quantum computing. (nabi.res.in) PREMIUM
While India has a dedicated supercomputer programme, there has been no dedicated government policy for quantum computing. (nabi.res.in)

The National Supercomputing Mission (NSM), 2015, was the first step taken by the State. A jointly funded programme, by the department of science and technology and the ministry of electronics and information technology, with a total outlay of 4,500 crore, has been allocated for the mission over seven years (2016-2023). The main objectives are to spearhead research in the development of supercomputers and build a national supercomputing grid. As of February 2022, 10 supercomputers have been installed at various host institutions. However, considering the distribution of the world’s top 500 most powerful supercomputers, India accounts for just 0.6% of the total. There is a long way to go before India can develop an interconnected grid of supercomputers.

The other major advanced computing technology dominating the market is quantum computing. While India has a dedicated supercomputer programme, there has been no dedicated government policy for quantum computing. However, the domestic private sector has gotten involved in the development of quantum computing hardware, software, and algorithms. The government has relied on partnership deals with major private firms such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and IBM to advance the quantum computing landscape.

Recent progress by the State has showcased the government’s intent. But a holistic strategy is in need to facilitate its further advancement.

First, the ability to build advanced computing facilities rests on raw materials. It would be impossible to indigenously manufacture the whole system from scratch. This is where the reliance on high-tech imports kicks in. Trade barriers — export control mechanisms and import restrictions — can hamper access to the building blocks of these systems. For example, advanced processors for supercomputers and cryogenic cooling systems for quantum computers are a necessity. But indigenously developing them will take time. Cutting down on import tariffs, along with embracing multilateral trade agreements such as the Information Technology Agreement must be the government’s priority. Moving towards a liberalised technology trade policy can help the country accelerate its computing programme.

Second, a grander vision to develop a nationwide computing grid is key. China’s national computing network can serve as a blueprint to scale-up computing infrastructure. The Chinese plan talks about a geographical approach to building data centres and computing clusters across the mainland.

The concept of “eastern data and western computing” in China has been proposed, which involves setting up computing architecture in the less-developed western regions of the country to handle the data stored in centres in the tech-aligned east. A computing grid in India can follow a similar pattern. The government, which has so far focused on academic research institutions as hosts for computing systems, must disperse these facilities. Creating a better network can improve the functioning of an advanced computing grid and handle large-scale data processing with ease.

Third is the need for a military lens into computing power, which will facilitate its advancement and improve computing technology. In the age of information warfare and cybersecurity threats from across the border, increased computational capacity is a necessary risk-mitigation tool. Advanced computing facilities at strategic environments such as naval bases, air command control centres, and border outposts can help in the faster analysis and real-time data processing that contains critical military intelligence. India must focus on its computing strategy, keeping the national security angle in mind.

The United States and China are already looking at these systems to simulate military operations and gain an advantage in the new era of warfare. India must take cognisance and act swiftly and decisively to build an impregnable computing ecosystem.

Arjun Gargeyas is a researcher with the High Tech Geopolitics programme, Takshashila Institution 

The views expressed are personal

Catch every big hit, every wicket with Crickit, a one stop destination for Live Scores, Match Stats, Infographics & much more. Explore now!

See more

Get Current Updates on India News, Elections 2024, Lok sabha election 2024 voting live , Karnataka election 2024 live in Bengaluru , Election 2024 Date along with Latest News and Top Headlines from India and around the world.

Continue reading with HT Premium Subscription

Daily E Paper I Premium Articles I Brunch E Magazine I Daily Infographics
freemium
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Share this article
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
OPEN APP
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Thursday, July 18, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On