VR Embedded Military Training to Be Most Disruptive to Defense Technology: India's Top Scientist

© Photo : India's Principle Scientific Advior Office / Prof Ajay Kumar SoodProf Ajay Kumar Sood, Indian Govt's Principle Scientific Advisor
Prof Ajay Kumar Sood, Indian Govt's Principle Scientific Advisor - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.09.2022
In an interview with Sputnik, Prof. Ajay Kumar Sood, the Indian government's Principle Scientific Advisor, reveals that in a few months, India is set to launch several missions, such as the Quantum Mission, 'One Health' Mission, and Green Hydrogen Mission.
Sputnik: India plans an ambitious mission for Quantum technology. When is it going to be launched? Could you provide details about it?
Prof. Ajay Sood: We discussed launching the Quantum Mission in Prime Minister's Science and Technology Innovation Advisory Council meeting two-and-a-half years ago. It (the Quantum Mission) is about to be launched very soon with the Department of Science and Technology as a nodal agency and many other ministries involved. It is at the advanced stage of approval. It will have substantial funding.
The mission will have four verticals— quantum computing, quantum communication, quantum sensing & metrology, and quantum material and devices.
Sectors like telecommunications, health, electronics, space, and defense will be major beneficiaries of this revolution. Every department needs secure communications, which quantum technology can provide.
India now has the capacity and capabilities to start from scratch and build technology to a globally competitive level.
With the Quantum mission, we have aimed to develop ultra-secure communication networks.
Sputnik: What kind of work is the government doing to provide ultra-secure networks?
Prof. Ajay Sood: Demand for ultra-secure networks by the military is enormous. The military has already started implementing this quantum communication. They are highly interested in further studies. So, we have already implemented an extensive program doing that. We are working on Quantum Key Distribution.
Currently, in order to send data a very long distance, we have to decrypt and then re-encrypt again after amplifying at every 30-40 km, and you keep on doing that. But this is not sustainable or efficient; it can be hacked at the point where this decryption and re-encryption happen.
To avoid this hacking threat, we need quantum repeaters. On this, not many work is happening in the country or abroad. So, quantum repeaters will be the immediate goal.
Quantum teleportation is the next obvious step. And obviously, all of us dream that we will have quantum internet in a few years.
Some groups are looking at these challenges. Physics Research Laboratory is one group. There are some others as well.
Recently, scientists from the Ahmedabad-based Space Applications Centre and Physical Research Laboratory successfully demonstrated satellite-based quantum communication. Using real-time Quantum Key Distribution, they conducted hack-proof communication between two places separated by 300 meters.
Also, we are focusing on virtual reality, which will probably be a big, disruptive technology of the next decade. Embedded military training will potentially be disruptive to defense and security technology.
It is predicted that the Augmented and Virtual Reality market will grow to about $30 billion by 2030, and we will see whether India can play a dominant role.
Sputnik: In outer space, there is massive competition among the world powers. What steps are you suggesting will increase India's strength in this segment?
Prof. Ajay Sood: We have opened the space sector for private participation. Our space policy is coming very soon as it is in the final stage of approval. So, players from the private sector are in focus. Under the new policy, more resources will be attributed to heavy satellite launches. We will soon have big private players in the space sector.
The space department has also drafted a Space Law regulating the space industry.
Sputnik: There are concerns over the shortages of funds for research and development in the country. Do you have plans to enhance the nation's resources for research and development?
Prof. Ajay Sood: See, we only advise the government. There is all the time efforts to increase the funding. So when the National Research Foundation comes up, that will address the issue.
Also, many institutes with immense human capacity are available in smaller cities. Foreign Direct Investment in R&D should not be looked at only in the mega cities; investors must go beyond tier-1 cities.
India needs to put an enormous effort into the Quantum technology sector, and FDI in R&D is vital.
Sputnik: Is the government planning any new initiative or mission connecting high-end technology with health?
Prof Ajay Sood: Under 'One Health,' we are not discussing human health in isolation. We are talking about human health, animal health, and wildlife, all these three together. And we are looking at the holistic program on this, and that's the whole idea. COVID has taught us, very, very clearly, that you can not take human health in isolation.
There is an enormous crossover between these three domains and of course, the environment. So, we have discussed with all the stakeholders launching 'One Health Mission', and things are already happening in a few ministries.
We are trying to make it more holistic and more wholesome, to make a difference in looking at key emerging disease mapping and many other things like integrated surveillance.
Sputnik: India considers Green Hydrogen as a way to achieve its climate goal. Have you set any timeframe to achieve success in this segment?
Prof Ajay Sood: Our Prime Minister has set a goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2070. So many many interventions are needed. One of the interventions is to go the green hydrogen route. The Green Hydrogen Mission is about to be launched within two months or even less. So I know the mission is already in its final state.
We expect by 2030, at least 4 million metric tons of green hydrogen will be produced annually. The sector is expected to attract around $70 billion in investment in the next 7-8 years.
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