September 13, 2023
Dr Ajay Sood, Principal Scientific Advisor of India has come up with the first draft Deep Tech Policy, a laudable albeit overdue initiative. It correctly analyses many impediments in the path of the development of Deep Tech capabilities in India. Dr Sood opened it for inputs by the public.
In response, iSPIRT – which under Shri Sharad Sharma’s leadership was the prime mover behind the design of the UPI, an achievement that iSPIRT seldom takes credit for- SITARA and several eminent experts/ SITARA members, have sent their suggestions to the PSA.
Our principal recommendation is to start work on a Sovereign Compute Stack (SCS), which may take a few years to develop but will establish India as a technology leader, not just an outsourcer of talent that yields trillions of dollars of value only to foreign entities. This is followed by other pertinent recommendations (B-G) at the end of the letter.
The sovereign compute stack will consist of sovereign AI capabilities, microprocessors, supercomputers, clouds and servers to start with. It will scale up to quantum technologies and other novel technologies.
An indigenous Indian microprocessor/OS/Cloud ecosystem would improve India’s National Security by making it more difficult for foreign adversaries to attack Indian critical infrastructure by weaving in indigenous security solutions into the hardware and software at the design stage itself . It will ensure Data Sovereignty, which is endangered due to the wholesale farming out of contracts to foreign consultancies and Big Tech, placing sensitive national data in their hands. An indigenous cloud would ensure data is stored in India and reinforce National Security. The SCS will thus forestall complete foreign capture of India’s USPs, which are a talented engineering workforce, Big Data, and Intellectual Property. It would promote indigenous innovation and domestic value retention in trillions of dollars and lead to massive job creation not just in the technology sectors but also other industries that rely on the cloud, which will soon be most of the modern sectors of the economy. It would thus yield all round economic benefits.
The initial investment, to be raised along the InQTel model of crowding in private investment from forward looking Indian companies after Government adopts the project and makes an initial or joint equity infusion, would be around US$200 million, to be scaled up via an IPO when the prototypes are ready for production. This would yield trillions of dollars of value, value that is currently being harvested by foreign companies. It is a no-brainer.
China is already far ahead of India in the technological race. There are reports that they have cracked 7nm chip technology and that the Biren chip is an alternative to even Nvidia’s, although China’s progress will be slowed down by the US-China Geotechnology War first analysed by SITARA (in India) between the US and China. An Australian think tank also reports that China is ahead in 37out of 44 technologies even of the US.
There is no time to lose and we urge our Government to undertake the development of sovereign capabilities on a “war” footing. We must engage in a healthy non-zero sum technology race to improve India’s fortunes, reap trillions of dollars in value and create a sustainable future for future generations.
We would invite readers’ comments on how to refine and improve this suggestion.