With its announcement of quantum computer Jiuzhang, China puts itself on the global map of quantum technology. As, China and the USA lead the global race in quantum technology, other developed nations are slowly following this pursuit by investing significant intellectual and fiscal resources. Recently, in collaboration with AWS, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) announced to establish a Quantum Computing Applications Lab in India.
This will be the world’s first quantum computing applications lab on AWS, supporting a national government’s mission to drive innovation. MeitY assures that this initiative will also accelerate quantum computing-led research and development and enable new scientific discoveries, by inviting applications from researchers and work with subject matter experts. The lab will then provide select applicants with access to quantum computing hardware, simulators, and programming tools, on-demand and at no cost, under the Amazon Braket program.
Amazon Braket program provides a development environment where users can explore and design quantum algorithms, test and troubleshoot them in quantum computers simulations, and run them on different quantum hardware technologies.
What’s unique about Quantum Computers?
Today’s classical computers manipulate individual bits that store information as binary 0 and 1 states. But quantum computers leverage quantum mechanical phenomena to drive information via qubits. Apart from binary values of ‘0’ and ‘1’, qubits have a third state called superposition, which simultaneously represents a ‘0’ or a ‘1’. Instead of analyzing a one or a zero sequentially, superposition allows two qubits in superposition to represent multiple scenarios at the same time. Additionally, qubits are also capable of pairing, which is known as entanglement. Here, the state of one qubit cannot be described independently of the state of the others – thus allowing instantaneous communication.
India’s Strategic Initiatives so Far
It is well-known that quantum computing can propel the development of new breakthroughs in science and lay the foundation for high computational capabilities. Apart from the USA and China, nations like Japan, Germany, Singapore and Canada have all announced ambitious schemes to boost quantum computing programs. Even the European Commission isn’t far behind. In the last budget session, the Indian Government had announced to invest US$1.12 billion in quantum computing research over the next five years. Finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, mentioned that this scheme would boost the research for technology under the National Mission of Quantum Technology and Application project. In the year before, the Department of Science & Technology (DST) had set up a research project named Quantum-Enabled Science & Technology (QuEST) with allocation of US$11.2 million (₹80 crores) in funding, at International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT)-Hyderabad.
As per official sources, the MeitY Quantum Computing Applications Lab will offer Quantum Computing-as-a-Service to government ministries and departments, researchers, scientists, academia, and developers to enable advances in areas like manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture, and aerospace engineering. As per the agreement, MeitY says this new lab will take inputs from Central and State governments, Research Institutions and Academia to identify problem statements in quantum computing. Nonetheless, it is still unclear whether this initiative falls under the National Mission on Quantum Technologies and Applications. But according to the President and CEO of the National e-Governance Division (NeGD), Abhishek Singh, this initiative will certainly augment India’s ongoing efforts in developing quantum computing applications.
Meanwhile, MeitY’s Secretary, Ajay Sawhney, is confident that quantum computing will play a key role in scientific advancements and learning. He said, “India has a rich legacy in science, technology, and innovation. We believe that India’s path forward will be driven by achieving world-class scientific solutions”.
It’s not the first time that an Indian institute will play a key role in boosting quantum computing development. For instance, Indian Institute of Science Education and research, Mohali, Punjab has done exemplary work on Photonic quantum memory. Even the study on Optimization of Circuits for qubit Quantum Computers by Jaypee Institute of Information Technology, Noida is also encouraging. Bengaluru-based QuNu Labs is India’s first company working in quantum cryptography.
“Our collaboration with MeitY to establish the Quantum Computing Applications Lab will provide the breadth and depth of AWS services to the research, academic, and scientific community to overcome these challenges and focus on innovation,” says Rahul Sharma, President, Public Sector – AISPL, AWS India and South Asia.
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