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TECHNOLOGY ACHIEVEMENTS IN ELECTRONICS —K.P.P. Nambiar (Secretary, Department of Electronics, Government of India)

Only a few countries in the world have successfully integrated electronics technology into their economy. India is one such country among the developing world striving to bring about this integration. The electronic computer – a driving force in the electronics revolution – has been undergoing, phenomenal changes ever since its inception. Computers closely reflect electronics technology that each advance in device technology – (namely vacuum tubes, transistors, integrated circuits, and microprocessor) greater performance and low price. This in turn has a significant effect on applications.

Now computers have become the ubiquitous tool for development in every sphere of human activity. While supercomputing based on parallel-processor is one goal for solving scientific and engineering problems, artificial intelligence is another goal for solving-knowledge information processing and symbolic processing problems. The impact of those developments is likely to be so penetrating and pervasive, that all major industrial nations like Japan, the USA, Europe, and USSR have initiated major national R&D programmes in new generation computing.

The Indian computer industry has taken major strides in the last few years. Wide-ranging indigenous capabilities exist today in the manufacturing of computers as well as software development. The manufacturing and application of personal computers are growing rapidly. There are at least 20 major manufacturers of Personal Computers and over 100 companies involved in sales and value-added retailing. With the availability of Personal Computers at affordable prices and user-friendly software for non-programmer professionals, the usage has increased manifold. Indian companies have been manufacturing microcomputer systems but the recent transfer of technology for manufacturing Super-Mini computer systems and mainframe systems have brought India at par with the International industry in this range of computer systems. A lot of activity has started in peripheral manufacturing like disc drives, floppy drives, and printers.

Major efforts are going on parallelly in the field of software development. A target of Rs.300 crores has been set for software exports in 1990. These development efforts by Indian Industry have been supported by tremendous growth in demand for computer systems. Another factor responsible for rapid development is in the field of Computers is the tremendous potential of skilled manpower available.

To keep pace with the developments the government has decided to develop a futuristic computer system in the country. Fifth Generation Parallel Computer System (FGPCS) programme has thus been launched as a major electronics technology mission to make India one of the world leaders in the field of advanced computer technology backed by the available technical capability. A center for advanced Computing Technology CDACT has also been launched by the Department of Electronics (DOE) as India's strategic initiative in advanced computing technology. C-DACT will be a mission institution of the DOE with several academic institutions, research centers, public and private sector units, and individual experts involved has been Software development and software exports have been the focus of our computer program.

The Government had announced the Software Policy in December 1986, The aim of this policy was the integrated development of software- for the export arid domestic market, as well as simplification of procedures and providing necessary incentives. In 1986, our software export was of the order of Rs 49 crores. The target for 1989-90 is 300 crores.

While implementing this policy, some problems, bottlenecks, and difficulties have been brought to the Government's notice.
To resolve these problems a high-level committee is examining in detail every issue and efforts made to ensure that prompt corrective action is taken so that business opportunities opened up by the emerging software industry are fully exploited.

The Department of Electronics is seized with the task of formulating the right strategy for the development of microelectronics, which is the delving force of computer technology today. DOE is setting up design centers in association with major companies like PEL, ITI, ECIL, and KELTRON to design and manufacture bipolar IC's and Application specific IC's ( AS1C) – components increasingly being incorporated into electronic systems. The production on each facility will be further enhanced and new facilities are created wherever necessary. All ASIC design centers will be maxed accessible to industries and universities. Another growing need is in the field of Information Technology for Indian languages. The question that arises is whether we should continue information acquisition, processing, and dissemination activity in English. Since most of the Indian languages are well structured syntactically.

Practically and graphically, the task of evolving information technology for Indian languages is not that difficult. Much more complicated languages like the Chinese have already formed their way into computers.

High priority is being accorded by the Government for making it a thrust area in its policy. Several projects have already been funded in this area. One of these projects has resulted in a feasible Indian script terminal that can be connected to a variety of computer systems. Moreover, the concept of Generation Computer has spurred interest in natural language processing. Plans to launch a major thrust for R&D in Information technology for Indian languages have begun. The initial blueprint has been electronic Tools in the Indian Language ETIL).

The R&D thrust in Indian languages will cover intelligent text processing and publishing systems, interactive programming and query environment, special-purpose software tools, learning systems at various levels in different disciplines, creative writing systems, and practical machine translation systems.

Source: Press Release
Date: August 21, 1988

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