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The recent events linked to COVID-19 have slightly changed our perception of the world. China who used to be ‘the factory of the world’, the second economical power, has now somehow been downsized.
Finally, Indian science publications are now gaining momentum, especially in the area of Artificial Intelligence.
In the article, we will draw a panorama of India’s technological strength and try to predict if the country could become the next giant tech superpower.
India shares with China and Egypt a rich ancient background in science, especially in Mathematics, Algorithmics, and Astronomy.
We can cite for example the following ancient Indians astronomers & mathematicians:
Some important Indian scientists from the pre-independence period include:
It is therefore not a surprise that the country could provide a lot of science people and engineers after it started to fully develop itself e.g after its independence.
Even before its independence, India provided some world-class mathematicians, like Srinivasa Ramanujan which proved that the country hosted talented people, just unable to fully access education, simply because of foreign domination.
The example of the former PM of India, Abdul Kalam, shows that the country shares apparently a common destiny with technology. Kalam advocated India to become the next world’s tech superpower.
The development of the software industry in India came – historically – as a surprise, especially because the country had no precedent records of high-tech industries.
It came fully as a result of the global economy and liberalization. India’s outsourcing industry in software started in 1967, in Mumbai.
Tata Consultancy Services was one of the first Indian companies to provide ‘export of software development’ in 1977, thus pioneering what would become a huge outsourcing industry.
At the start, these outsourcing industries were created as a joint effort between multinationals groups, such as IBM, and local entrepreneurs.
Then, especially with the development of the internet in the 2000’s some of the outsourcing companies, having gained experience in dealing with large scale and complex projects became themselves multinationals.
Today 1,200 blue chips around the world have an R&D center in India in almost all domains such as chemical, telecoms, semiconductors, and automotive.
India is also home to more than 7,000 startups and 10 to 20 of them – nicknamed the ‘unicorns’ – are valued above 1 billion USD
The chemical industry in India is among the largest in the world.
In terms of the pharmaceutical industry, India is the largest provider in the world of generic medicines with around 1/5 of global production for these medicines.
India also supplies around 60% of the vaccines globally.
The Biotechnology industry in India is a very dynamic sector and made of more than 2700+ start-ups and they are expected to reach 10,000 for the next 4 years.
These startups work on genetic engineering, especially in the agricultural domain (seeds, animals, etc.)
India has a very strong link with Artificial Intelligence and is one of the few nations to have started a very ambitious educational program in AI. AI and the development of resources in AI are clear objectives of Indian leadership.
It is believed that the development of A.I in India could add up to one trillion USD to its economy.
According to the Economic Times, India is ranked third in terms of AI development and industry.
AI is a key area in many domains, for example: Robotics or Hyper-Automation is considered the most critical and strategic skill for the decades to come.
Here are some of the top companies in AI from India:
Indian science can be full of contrasts. India has a huge population and a rapidly expanding economy and so it is increasing its science publications at a high rate.
While India started well behind Russia, France and many other countries in terms of scientific publications per year, it is leading all them now.
India has a population of around 200,000 full-time researchers and is ranked third in the world in terms of the raw volume of scientific publications.
|Number of articles published in 2016
India is one of the few countries in the world which has a space program and has developed its own satellite launcher technology.
India has launched space probes and performed atmosphere re-entry. India has a ballistic missile program.
Finally, India is also a member of the Galileo program.
India has several technological megapolis. Among them, we can cite the most emblematic: Bangalore.
Bangalore is often regarded as the ‘silicon valley of India’ because a lot of IT industries are concentrated there.
With 10 million inhabitants, this is a megapolis and hosts most of the innovation of India. It’s often surprising because not all of Bangalore looks actually High-tech, but the innovation is really present in every corner of the city.
From the data we have presented so far, India has a lot of assets to become a world ‘tech’ superpower:
However there are a lot of barriers to overcome for India to become such a tech world power:
However, it appears that India ranks number 3 as a world tech power. The main competitor of India remains China.
The recent events linked to COVID-19 have created a lack of trust toward China, from the USA especially, and India could take the opportunity to get markets when China is losing them.
It is also true that China may not fully be able to address the new challenges from Artificial Intelligence technologies which are the real stakes of the game, e.g whoever will dominate the area of AI will become de facto of the world tech superpower.
India can become a leader in the technologies of hyper-automation, AI, Internet Of Things, 5G, and similar.
Some analysts claim it won’t take decades but only a few years. That’s because of the current exponential growth in the Indian IT sector.
The Book “India 2020: A Vision for the New Millennium” was co-authored by Abdul Kalam and YS Rajan in 1998.
The vision of kalam was clear and he emphasized that his country – India – would have to find the strength to eradicate its poverty, go beyond China, and challenge the USA by 2020.
As per of 2020, the predictions of the book are still mostly opened. The poverty in India has not been eradicated at all, while indeed there has been a general increase in the well-being of a lot of its population.
India is still behind China, especially in terms of physical infrastructures – even if India keeps on growing while China is obviously slowing down.
Abdul Kalam was extraordinarily optimistic and a clear adept of scientific positivism. Somehow the future will tell if his predictions and hopes were true.
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