In the middle of the 20th century, former and first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru initiated reforms to promote higher education, science, and technology in India, followed by the inauguration of the Indian Institutes of Technology in 1951. Since then, the nation’s science and technology sector has boomed, especially spatial and nuclear research which were particularly enabled by close ties with the Soviet Union at the beginning of the 1960s. Today, India has settled as a leader in several fields such as the automotive industry, telecommunication and IT.
The automotive industry in India is the world’s second fastest growing and one of the largest worldwide, accounting for 7.1 per cent of the country’s GDP. The two-wheelers segment, with 81% market share, is the leader of the Indian automobile market, owing to a growing middle class and a young population. India is also a prominent auto exporter and is expected to become a leader in the two-wheeler as well as the four-wheeler market in the world by 2020, thanks to several Government initiatives, taken along with major automobile players in the Indian market .
Telecommunication in India
India’s telecommunication industry is the world’s fastest-growing and most competitive, but also the second largest worldwide by number of telephone and Internet users, respectively 1.2 billion and 321 million. The reason why India’s telecommunication network is rising so fast is because its call tariffs are the lowest in the world, enabled by mega telecom operators and hyper-competition among them. Today, India has surpassed the US to become the second largest smartphone market in the world after China, and its telecom sector accounts now for 7% of the country’s GDP.
In order to keep a strong telecommunication industry, ongoing processes are being launched to transform the network into the next generation network, such as digital telephone exchanges and mobile switching centres, replacing them with a wide variety of transmission systems using fibre-optics, wireless technologies or else microwave radio relay networks.
The Indian telecommunication sector improvement, especially thanks to the INSAT system (one of the largest domestic satellite systems in the world), has been a blessing as it has strongly supported the socio-economic development of the country and has played a significant role to narrow down the rural-urban discrepancies. It also has helped the government to deliver mass education programmes for the rural folk of India.
Information technology in India
Today, the Indian IT industry consists in two major components, which are IT services and business process outsourcing. It accounts for 8% the country’s GDP and contributes to 25% of its merchandise exports, bringing India to rank as the world’s second largest IT exporter in spite of China’s and Philippines’ strong competitiveness.
The country’s second and third largest software companies are headquartered in Bangalore, which is considered as the « Indian Silicon Valley ». The IT sector has also led to massive employment generation in India, with 2.8 million professionals working in this field directly, and 9 million indirectly. India’s IT sector has been a major ground for the country’s economic growth these past few decades.
The Indian space research policy consists in “harnessing space technology for national development while pursuing space science research and planetary exploration.” It is managed by the Department of Space, which governs the Indian space Research Organisation (ISRO), the main body for Indian space research established by former and first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru.
In 1975, a first Indian satellite was launched by the Soviet Union. In 2016, ISRO successfully set a record with a launch of 20 satellites in a single payload (one being a satellite from Google) and in 2017, it launched 104 satellites in a single rocket, creating another world record. Today, India own nine operational geostationary satellites, which helped greatly improve telecommunication, education and medicine for the people in the country.
In 2013, the ISRO launched the Mars Orbiter Mission, India’s first interplanetary mission and the fourth world space agency and the first Asian nation to reach Mars. It was also the first nation to do so on its first attempt.
Research and development
The strongest field for research and development in India is agriculture. At the very begginning of the 20th century, the country established the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) responsible for the research leading to the famous “Indian Green Revolution” of the 1970s.
On the other hand, despite the help of the Soviet Union in the 60s and all of India’s efforts towards boosting technologies industry’s research and development today, the country remain well below compared to other countries such as China and the US regarding its number of researchers and its budget for technological development. Indeed, although India accounts for about 10% of all expenditure on research and development in Asia and the number of scientific publications grew by almost 50% over the past decade, it has only 140 researchers per 1,000,000 population, compared to 4,651 in the United States, and it invested 4 times less than China and 75 times less than the US in R&D.