The Technology Challenge for India


The Technology Challenge for India

While technology policy is  not part of India’s election discourse, but the next government in Delhi, according to C Raja Mohan (contributing editor on international affairs for The Indian Express and a visiting professor at the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore) “will have its hands full in dealing with the impact of the rapidly unfolding technological changes on the major economies, the geopolitical rivalry between them, and the global governance of artificial intelligence, space industrialisation, and the bioeconomy. Above all, the next government will have to focus on a wide range of internal reforms to make India ready to gain command over emerging technologies.”


Obsession with technology policy

The new obsession with technology policy is not limited to China; the question of mastering the technological revolution animates all major economies. In the last few years, President  Joe Biden  has focused intensely on regaining its leadership in the advanced technology sectors.

The US  has also sought to limit the support of US capital to Chinese technological development and restrict advanced technology exports from the US and its allies to Beijing. The US is also trying to develop new global technology coalitions with its friends and partners, including the Quadrilateral forum with Australia, India, and Japan, and the so-called Chip-4 alliance between the US and three leading semiconductor producers — Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. It is also building deep bilateral partnerships in critical and emerging technologies with India (the iCET).


India’s challenge

In India, writes Mohan “science and technology have long been a major part of its developmental strategy. Over the last decade, we have seen Prime Minister Narendra Modi  leverage digital technologies for the delivery of services, emphasise investments in renewable energy, focus on a mission mode to put India back on the map of semiconductor production, and develop a strategy for the acceleration of India’s AI capabilities. Technology has also figured prominently in the Modi government’s foreign policy — especially in making it a key element of building strategic partnerships with the US and Europe.”

To keep pace with the new global race though, “Delhi  needs to undertake a sweeping overhaul of its technology departments, significantly raise the national expenditure on R&D, and encourage greater participation of the private sector in the research, development, and production of modern technologies.

“The entrenched S&T monopolies under the government created in the early years after Independence are out of sync with the imperatives of building a large technology-driven economy that India now aims for. Modernising the technological foundation of the Indian economy and national security must necessarily be at the top of the agenda for the next government if Delhi wants to be a part of the global map of ‘new and high-quality forces of production’.”

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