Quantum Technology Revolution in India

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    In News 

    Recently ,there were reports that the Indian Army is developing cryptographic techniques to make its networks resistant to attacks by systems with quantum capabilities.

    About Quantum Technology 

    • It is based on the principles of Quantum mechanics developed in the early 20th century to describe nature at the scale of atoms and elementary particles
    • It is manifested through applications in secure communication, disaster management through better prediction, computing, simulation, chemistry, healthcare, cryptography, imaging among others. 
    • Scientists have expanded quantum theory to understand biological phenomena such as smell, consciousness, enzyme catalysis, photosynthesis, avian navigation like that of the Robin, origin of life and effects on coronavirus. 

    Status In India 

    • India has been witnessing growing interest in quantum computing, with students, developers, and academia actively participating. 
    • Consequently, the country is emerging as a talent hub for quantum computing

    Benefits 

    • Quantum computers tap into the quantum mechanical phenomenon to manipulate information and are expected to shed light on processes of molecular and chemical interactions, address difficult optimization problems, and boost the power of artificial intelligence. 
    • Advances like these could open the door to new scientific discoveries, life-saving drugs, and improvements in supply chains, logistics and the modelling of financial data. 

    Threats 

    • Quantum computing has the potential to break the encryption on which most enterprises, digital infrastructures and economies rely
      • Businesses and governments could be rendered unable to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the transactions and data
    • The geopolitics of quantum technology could act as a barrier to unlocking its full value National security concerns over sovereignty, and maintaining control over strategic capability.
    • It can game-changing the information race and  and there is a real risk that competition will interfere with international collaboration and widen asymmetries in security and industrial capability.
    • China’s quantum advances expand the spectre of quantum cyberattacks against India’s digital infrastructure, which already faces a barrage of attacks from Chinese state-sponsored hackers. 
      • India’s dependence on foreign, particularly Chinese hardware, is an additional vulnerability. 

    Initiatives 

    • India is currently at the forefront of tapping the second quantum revolution through massive investments in the field. 
    • Union Budget 2020-21 proposed to spend ?8,000 crore ($ 1.2 billion) on the newly launched National Mission on Quantum Technologies and Applications (NMQTA) and ? 3660 Crore for National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber Physical Systems (NM-ICPS). 
    • Budget 2020 allocated Rs 8000 Crore to a National Mission on Quantum Technologies & Applications (NM-QTA) for a period of five years.
    • The Union Cabinet approved the launch of the National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NM-ICPS) to make India a leading player in the Cyber-Physical System.
    • Quantum Frontier under PMSTIAC Mission: It  aims to initiate work in the understanding and control of quantum mechanical systems with a large number of degrees of freedom as one of the great contemporary challenges in fundamental science and technology.
    • In February 2022, a joint team of the Defence Research and Development Organisation and IIT-Delhi successfully demonstrated a QKD link between two cities in UP — Prayagraj and Vindhyachal — located 100 kilometres apart.
    •  Recently ,The Army has collaborated with industry and academia to build secure communications and cryptography applications. 

    Suggestions 

    • India will have to proactively deal with cyber risks arising from quantum computing which are accentuated by the lead taken by some nations in this sector. 
      • For example, the US National Quantum Initiative Act has already allocated $1.2 billion for research in defence-related quantum technology.
    • India must consider procuring the United States National Security Agency’s (NSA) Suite B Cryptography Quantum-Resistant Suite as its official encryption mechanism. 
    • The Indian defence establishment can consider emulating the cryptographic standards set by the US’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) which has developed a series of encryption tools to handle quantum computer attacks. 
    • India should start implementing and developing capabilities in quantum-resistant communications, specifically for critical strategic sectors.
    • Diplomatic partnerships with other “techno-democracies” — countries with top technology sectors, advanced economies, and a commitment to liberal democracy — can help India pool resources and mitigate emerging quantum cyber threats. 
    • The community has to act now to ultimately ensure security and strategic advantage issues don’t become major barriers to fully realising the potential transformative value of quantum technology.
      • This requires upgrading current encryption standards that can be broken by quantum cryptography. 

    Conclusion 

    • The world is moving towards an era in which the applications of quantum physics in strategic domains will soon become a reality, increasing cybersecurity risks. India needs a holistic approach to tackle these challenges. 
      • At the heart of this approach should be the focus on post-quantum cybersecurity.

    Mains Practise Question

    [Q] Quantum technology is opening up new frontiers in computing, communications, cyber security with wide-spread applications.Comment