1:06 pm - Monday November 9, 2015

Centre sanctions 4,000cr for national supercomputing policy

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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Chairman of the Parliamentary standing committee on science, technology and environment Ashwani Kumar said that the Centre has approved the national supercomputing policy that was mooted during his tenure as the UPA’s minister of state for science and technology (2011-12).

As part of the supercomputing policy, the government plans to build a vast supercomputing grid that will include over 70 high-performance computing facilities. The project is to be implemented within a seven-year period, with benefits reaching the people by 2025. The chairman, who visited Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre and Isro Inertial Systems Unit (IISU) on Thursday, said the policy is expected to propel the country as a supercomputing power which will benefit strategic missions, space science and telemedicine.

Kumar had constituted a high-level committee of experts for science and technology initiatives in supercomputing during the UPA regime. “The UPA had set aside Rs 6,000 crore for the project and the present government has sanctioned over Rs 4,000 crore.

“Though China has taken the lead in supercomputing, India has plans to augment its supercomputing capabilities so that the benefits reach the people. The spinoff effects of technology and R&D – that reaches the private sector – is not good enough. Share of private sector in R&D and innovation is only one third in IndiaIt is two third in other countries. We need to reverse that trend and opt for public private sector participation (PPP)

,” he said.

On Friday, the 21-member Parliamentary team visited Liquid propulsion systems centre, Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology. The team plans to visit the desalination project site in Kochi.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Union government has approved the National Supercomputing Policy to go ahead with a major project estimated to cost Rs 6000 crore. The policy is expected to propel the country as a supercomputing power which will benefit strategic missions, space science and telemedicine, according to Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science, Technology and Environment chairman Ashwani Kumar after his first visit to Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre and ISRO Inertial Systems Unit (IISU) here on Thursday.

In an interview to TOI here on Thursday, Aswani Kumar said it was during his earlier tenure as the Minister of State for Science and Technology from 2011-12 during the Congress led UPA government that he constituted a high level committee of experts for Science and Technology initiatives in Supercomputing and for the Translational benefits of innovation to the people. Then, the UPA had set aside an outlay of Rs 6000 crore for the supercomputing project and now the present government has sanctioned over Rs 4,000 crore, he said.

“Though China has gone ahead as a supercomputing power, India has taken the initiative and plans to augment its Supercomputing capabilities to enhance its reach for the benefit of the people and the right ecosystem for its growth is sought to be strengthened,” Ashwani Kumar said. According to a study, India’s electronic items import will exceed the crude oil imports in the coming years, which is a critical circumstance and to prevent that the focus needs to be to scale up domestic manufacturing facilities in supercomputing, electronic hardware and micro-electronics.

As part of the supercomputing policy, the government plans to build a vast supercomputing grid, comprised of more than 70 high-performance computing facilities. The project is expected to take seven years and the benefits of that would reach the people by 2025.

“The spin off effects of technology and research and development (R&D) that reaches the private sector is not good enough. Share of private sector in R&D and innovation is only one third in India as against two third in other countries, we need to reverse that trend. It is a challenge to ensure public private sector participation (PPP) in science, technology and innovation including supercomputing,” he said.

On his visit to VSSC and IISU on Thursday, Ashwani Kumar told TOI. “It is my first visit to VSSC and IISU and so delighted to be here. I am at a loss of words offering my wholesome tribute to the great work, to applaud their seminal achievements. Products made at ISRO units including IISU are by far the best in the world and it is even recognised by NASA in terms of precision of space mission”. He assures to make strong recommendations to the government to support space establishments here in terms of budget provisions and manpower.

Though the R&D funds is less than 0.1 percent of the GDP, there is no dearth of funds for space research and for innovations as critical areas will not be starved for funds, but the right industrial ecosystem needs to be created through PPP and that’s a challenge, he said.

“Yet, the primacy of environment protection as a principle cannot be diluted in the name of economic growth because issues relating to the realities of global climate change needs to be addressed as the earth faces serious threat and in view of that India must take a leadership role to reaffirm the imperative need of environmental protection on the basis of common but differential responsibility,” he said.

On Friday, the 21-member Parliamentary team led by Ashwani Kumar visited the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC), Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST) as part of review of the working of the space establishments here. Next the team plans to visit the De-Salination project to be implemented by the Ministry of Earth Sciences in Kochi, to purify sea water to ensure pure drinking water to the people.

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