At the country’s 75th Independence Day celebrations Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated his pitch for innovation in India over the next 25 years. A big part of this goal though, depends on the country’s progress in the technology space. As India plans to move towards its 100th Independence, technology is sure to be one of the key factors in its growth and development. Here, we highlight some of the key leaps in technology that Indians can expect till 2047.
Strengthening foothold in chip making and electronics manufacturing
Increasing India’s contribution to the global electronics and semiconductor supply chain is high on the government’s list of priorities right now. Production linked incentive (PLI) schemes have been announced for mobile, IT hardware, and chip manufacturing, in the hopes that they will help scale manufacturing in the country.
As a result, global manufacturing giants like Foxconn, Wistron and Pegatron have already set up factories in the country, and have been ramping up manufacturing of Apple’s iPhones in the country. The mobile PLI also provides relaxations for Indian firms, like Lava and Dixon, allowing them to reap the benefits for manufacturing low-end devices, while global companies will only be given benefits for manufacturing phones priced above ₹20,000.
In December 2021, the government also rolled out an incentive scheme worth ₹76,000 crore (roughly $10 billion) to attract international semiconductor and display manufacturers to the country. The Vedanta and Tata groups have already announced their intent to set up display fabs in India too, though experts have noted that such plants will take at least five years to set up, if not more.
In April, the government also set up a panel to support start-ups and SMEs (small and medium enterprises) in the sector. Several start-ups are hopeful that the push for semiconductors will allow them to overcome hurdles and succeed globally.
Earlier this month, Tamil Nadu-based semiconductor manufacturing company Polymatech, said it will invest $1 billion to expand its chipset manufacturing and packaging facility in the state. Nandam Eswara Rao, founding president of Polymatech, told Mint that the first phase of the facility will have the capacity to produce 250 million chips per year.
To be sure, this is not the first time India is trying to establish itself as a hub for semiconductor manufacturing. In the mid-1980s, Bangalore was slated to become an international tech hub, including the semiconductor industry. The US-based chipmaker Texas Instruments (TI) had set up an R&D facility in the country in 1985 to design electronic chips and some others followed suit. Despite a promising start, India lost out in the semiconductor race soon after, while countries like China and Taiwan moved ahead. Pushing the country’s share in semiconductors has been on the cards for the last few decades now, so let’s hope this time will be better.
Drones are worth the hype
India is already seeing some progress is drone manufacturing, also known as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Their use for civilian purposes has evolved globally in recent years and may show greater promise in the next 25.
The pandemic had provided a fillip to drone start-ups, with state governments utilising their services for delivery of medicines, Covid-19 vaccines, sanitising public spaces and surveillance. Moreover, central and state ministries and industry players have scaled-up experiments on drone usage for land surveys, disaster management, law enforcement, aerial surveillance and agricultural activities since 2020.
With the aim of becoming a global drone hub by 2030, India announced a new policy ecosystem for the domestic drone industry in August 2021. Dubbed as ‘Drone Regulations 3.0’, it includes the liberalised Drone Rules 2021, the unmanned aerial vehicle traffic management policy, the certification scheme for unmanned aircraft systems, the drone import policy, and more recently the Drone (Amendment) Rules, 2022, which says that remote pilot certificates will not be required for flying small to medium size drones of up to 2kg for non-commercial purposes.
While drone manufacturing is still at a nascent stage, the Drone Rules 2021 provide for increased manufacturing in India, they have also clarified specific zones where drones can fly in our cities. The upcoming Digital Sky platform will make this even clearer.
Smarter cars on Indian roads
While a driverless car on an Indian road may be a distant dream, it is definitely on the cards for the next 25 years. Back in 2018, Mahindra & Mahindra showcased an autonomous tractor, stating that it intends to develop fully autonomous tractors in the future.
However, making a self-driving car in India requires several million kilometres of real-world data, and algorithms suited to Indian driving conditions. At present no Indian automaker has announced any plans to build such vehicles.
That said, electric vehicles (EV) are on the cards, with companies like Maruti announcing plans to get EVs on the road by 2025. Others, like Hyundai, Kia and MG are already selling EVs in the country too, while startups like Ola Electric are making electric scooters too.
While EVs are automobiles first, they use much more technology than our regular fuel vehicles. In future, cars will have more sensors, will collect more data about how we drive, and integrate more services — like payments etc.
A good example of where things are going is the MG Astor, launched in India in August last year. In an interview with TechCircle at the time, Rajeev Chaba, President and Managing Director of MG Motors, said it is the first car in India to use blockchain technology. The car uses a blockchain-based system to take driving data and use that to determine the car’s resale value, insurance premiums and more. It also comes equipped with a personal AI (artificial intelligence) assistant.
Indian consumers, too, are feeling the burden from the rising fuel costs, which could heighten interest in EVs. The key players in this segment include Tata Motors, MG Motor, BYD, Audi, BMW, Hyundai, and Mahindra & Mahindra
As per latest data shared by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) on its online portal Vahan dashboard, currently, 13,92,265 EVs are plying on Indian roads out of which electric cars account for 5.58% share. It showed, in the first half of 2022, EV sales accounted for a 3.5-times increase compared to the same period last year and the cumulative sale of electric cars in July 2022 stood at 4,445 units.
Taking a quantum leap
Quantum computing has always been a moon-shot for the technology industry at large, and India too is aiming to make its mark in that future.
At the Union Budget 2020, the country announced a ₹8,000 crore National Mission on Quantum Technologies and Applications. In August last year, the company also announced a Quantum Simulator (QSim), with which it aims to aid research in quantum computing. Companies also have plans to develop a 50 qubits quantum computer by 2026, joining a growing number of countries such as Australia and Israel that are looking to drive broader adoption of the nascent technology.