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India’s Quest for Quantum Computers

With the rise of new global powers, everyone is focusing on the next big thing in the realm of strategic assets and driving the new era of technology. The two leading economic powers are engaged in a competitive pursuit of quantum supremacy, while others are striving to make up ground in this unfamiliar territory of computing.

An Illustration on India's Quest for Quantum Computers

Illustration by The Geostrata

India, Australia, and the UK are pouring in billions of dollars to kickstart the development of this new technology and be part of this transformation instead of being the users only. India has sanctioned ₹6003.65 crore over the decade to the National Quantum Mission to indigenously develop quantum-based computers.


Quantum Technology is an extremely recent phenomenon developed at the dawn of the 20th century, based on principles of Quantum mechanics that essentially focus on describing the nature of material with atoms and subatomic particles. Quantum technology is complicated but strives to make our lives easier using subatomic particles.

This technology provides vast potential for revolutionizing the pharmaceuticals, energy, finance, transportation, defense, and communications sectors, improving data analysis and machine learning, and calculating market risks for financial companies.

Quantum computing is merging rapidly and scientists are working practically on it which was just a mere dream three decades ago. 


Quantum computing is different from classical computers and their need emerged to solve more complicated problems of recent times. Since supercomputers are still not capable of solving problems with a high degree of complexity dealing with multiple variables.

While classical computers work using bits that represents either 0 or 1, quantum computers work on qubits that can represent 0, 1, or variable in between which allows quantum computers to simultaneously on various variables at high speed using superposition and entanglement which makes quantum computers way more capable of having research for sensing, encryption, and communication.

Quantum computers work on special chips instead of semiconductors which makes them more capable of reading trends in complicated data.

As quantum computers have a high error rate they have to be kept using cold quantum technology that supports storing atoms at an extremely high temperature, that is above absolute 0 which is equivalent to -273.15 degrees Celsius.


Quantum computers essentially can break or decrypt the encryptions used nowadays to protect bank records, passwords, and military information. These data have already been compromised a lot and the need is for quantum-safe key delivery to ensure the safety of these data.

However, scientists are working diligently to answer some ambiguous questions about the possible threats and uses of quantum computers but one thing on which they remain on the equal side is that this technology will surely lead to compromise in cybersecurity as it is easier for such computers to study a pattern in the data and encrypt them.


The global race for this technology has been accelerated by governments of the US and China who are pouring investments for pushing the technology forward in their domains and making sure that one's country remains ahead of the other.

The United States is doing everything to stop China from developing quantum technology, which has collectively brought countries together and is stopping the supply of key semiconductor equipment to China from Japan and the Netherlands.

This comes alongside the sanctions of supplying key semiconductors from companies like Nvidia that are essential for developing Artificial Intelligence.

Currently US holds the ground on the world’s fastest quantum computer with IBM’s 433 qubit Osprey’ processor and is on track to deliver 1121 qubit processor ‘Condor’ in 2023. The US has allocated $3.7 billion to keep it ahead of its adversaries and the US Navy and Air Force have set up their quantum research facilities with the goal of updating and equipping its forces for faster response to threats. 

China on the other hand is going full throttle with massive state-led funding of around $15.3 billion, according to McKinsey estimates.

China currently has a maximum number of filed patents in the field of quantum technology but it is believed these are all inflated numbers as most of the patents have similar technology just with slight differences. China’s fastest 176-qubit processor, Zuchongzhi was unveiled in May 2023 but it remains years behind the United States which is going to unveil a 1000-qubit processor in 2023. 


In the past technological revolutions, India has always been on the sidelines of the development and years behind the adoption of that technology for commercial or defensive uses.

Even though India is pushing for the production of semiconductors in the country to roll out the first Made-in-India semiconductor chips by 2024, the country has still yet to roll out any advanced semiconductor chips for commercial use. 

IIT Madras incubated Shakti processor was a big achievement for India's semiconductor but it is still decades behind what the USA and China have achieved over the years. Shakti is based on the 180nm technology which was used by Intel in 1999 and compared to the latest silicons from Apple which are based on the 3nm technology. It shows the difference in generation of technology from the sector which has remained underfunded for almost its entirety in India. 

Hence for almost all the major technologies involving semiconductors India remains dependent on the USA or China for design and manufacturing and even India's top supercomputers can’t run without the support from these countries.

Even from the private sector, there have been no significant investments in these critical technologies as they are more focused on becoming the cheap manufacturers for the West rather than the designers for the world.


With the NQM, India is going to be for the first time on the front end of the next technological revolution rather than being on the sidelines as an adopter of the technology. In April 2023, the Union Government approved the NQM for ₹6003.65 crore to seed the research and development work and nurture a new quantum-based technology ecosystem in the country.

Through NQM, India is aiming to develop 50-1000 physical qubits for the superconducting and photonic technology. It also aims at establishing a secure quantum-based connection between ground stations over the range of 2000 km within a country like China.

One of the major threats India will be aiming to solve is to defend its highly-encrypted defense assets from China, as with the help of quantum technology those highly encrypted codes can be easily decrypted within seconds and will open the country to any sort of cyberattack.

These encryptions secure our nuclear assets, mobile networks, credit cards, etc, and imagine if all these encryptions can be decrypted, this could have serious implications for any country as the state could descend into anarchy if all sensitive information gets out. 

Right now in the US, there are around 81 companies that are working on quantum computing technology including Google, Microsoft, IBM, Amazon, and Honeywell, though separately but are still pushing the United States forward in terms of quantum sciences and helping it keep ahead of its adversaries.

India has taken the same approach as China by giving state funding for the mission but it would be difficult for the country to match the investment made by China who already had foundational infrastructure in this sector. India will need a lot more than state funding to achieve NQM, it needs the collaboration and support of the private sector if it wants to catch up with the two giants in the next couple of decades.


The use of quantum computers is very narrow nowadays and requires capacity building to provide a practical platform to use it. However, experts are on the side that there is no doubt that this quantum technology is the future but the question remains when will these theoretical ideas meet the practical components to provide further development and leads in this field.

China and the USA are the leading developers of this technology and now India also has invested in this technology through its National Quantum Mission, which aims at developing quantum algorithms for practical applications that are needed for the country’s significant development in healthcare, energy, climate change, job creation and more fields to be discovered in future.

Tech firms, private businesses, and governments have already started investing in this technology as they have already been able to predict the global market value of this technology shortly.





Ayushi Chaudhary
Ayushi Chaudhary
Dec 14, 2023

Interesting take


Nidhi Soni
Nidhi Soni
Dec 14, 2023

A very informative piece!!!

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