II. IT RESEARCH, DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT
A. Framework for Information Technology Research, Design and Development
The working Group on IT Research, Design and Development has made the following recommendations :
Information Technology is one of the youngest and fastest growing technologies that is affecting our daily lives. Introduction of IT is changing our operational practices and thinking process, and is taking us to the new Information Age. IT also has enormous influence in the global economy. There is growing appreciation of the role of IT in enhancing productivity and competitive advantage.
With the globalization of economy, the strategy of conducting business is fast changing. The emphasis is on cutting down the RD&D cycle time. Provide newer services and products to remain ahead of the competitors. This has led to technology driven business. Thus making technology more precious than ever before for the growth of economy.
In todays context therefore, technology takes center stage both from strategic point of view, involving national security and from commercial point of view, to make India a global player. There is a great need to seriously encourage RD&D in sunrise technologies like IT both in government and private sector. It is important to provide large public funding to RD&D in IT sector to achieve the ambition set by the Prime Minister to make India an IT superpower by 2008.
To meet the challenges of the new global competition and to boost the indigenous RD&D in IT, it is important to create an ambience in the country for RD&D to flourish. An effective IT RD&D policy instrument needs to be in place to provide government participation in various forms of incentives and other fiscal and regulatory provisions. It is also essential to build partnerships between government funded research institutions and private industry. An environment for RD&D to grow also needs effective linkages with its commercialization, manpower development and availability of financial resources
Every country has problems, which seem similar to the ones faced in other countries. However each one of them has some specific component which makes it unique. Every country therefore has to work out context specific solutions, which are unique to the country. It is extremely important and critical to identify and promote certain initiatives for uniquely Indian solutions for uniquely Indian needs. These initiatives could also become trendsetters in other developing countries and give berth to Indian technology.
RD&D is a knowledge-intensive activity. It is also a multi-disciplinary activity having linkages with many fields of specialization. High-end research therefore needs cutting-edge specialist manpower in a number of disciplines. It is of vital importance to develop such a specialized manpower in the country, retain them in India and provide them scope/facility to work on RD&D with medium-term and long-term specific goals.
It is a well-known fact that the investment made in RD&D gives highest rate of return. However investment in IT RD&D is characterized by very high risk. This is because there are many other steps in the product evolution cycle, which should also be organized before the product becomes profitable in the market. Most Indian Industries and RD&D institutions run out of steam during the product evolution cycle. Funding for RD&D therefore becomes a very critical issue in the developing countries. Most of the RD&D funding in India come from Government of India in the form of support to a large number of RD&D and academic institutes. This funding is mostly for strategic reasons and not for getting maximum return-on-investment (ROI). RD&D funding by Private Sector Indian Industry does not seem to be significant either in quality or quantity.
The current government efforts towards development of IT technology in India are limited to "capability and awareness building exercise" and strategic research and development. There is very little link between the current RD&D efforts and the industry, which is so vital to ensure sustenance of technology development. It is clear that there is a need to put major efforts to encourage RD&D as a primary tool that can hasten the process of economic development in India.
Indian IT RD&D capabilities can be very effectively used for the "product- development". However one of the major hurdles faced in sustaining the development is absence of "global marketing channels". One of the ways to build such a channel is to acquire appropriate companies abroad. These companies by themselves, could be profit making. Marketing channels of this company can used to market the new products. Funding for such a venture could come both from financial institutions and government. There is an urgent need to encourage such a concept to make India a global player in IT in a short time.
Successive policy announcements of the Government, during the past few years, have unfortunately reduced most of our once RD&D oriented IT industry to mere trading activity. We need an IT products industry that can stand on its own, rather than be dependent solely on import of technology from abroad. There is therefore an overwhelming need for government to re-invigorate Indias Research Design & Development (RD&D) capabilities in IT. Further delay in encouraging such capabilities could rapidly diminish the nations economic, military, and life-quality standards.
1. Setup a High level Institutional framework to coordinate and focus RD&D efforts in the country. This should help in facilitating formulation and implementation of policy framework on on-going basis for RD&D in IT; take note of present efforts, identify and coordinate implementation of mission mode foundation projects in products, processes and technologies; and to monitor and steer the RD&D activities on on-going basis. This effort needs to be coordinated initially by the Government with active participation of Industry.
All government funded RD&D organizations should be encouraged to formulate long term and short term IT action plan and share it with the above mentioned Institution to facilitate coordination and maximize the benefits flowing from it.
2. Establish an Indian IT Design Council as a non-governmental, autonomous body that would
This Mark could have different "levels" (such as Silver, Gold, and Platinum, depending on the exact design content Platinum being the highest).
3. Setup an Information Technology Development Board (ITDB) as a non-governmental, autonomous body that would
4. A corpus fund be created by the Government of India for the IT sector.
This should act as corpus fund for various funding agencies. The funding could be through pure equity, convertibles, convertible preference shares, venture finance etc. to the companies at the seed stage.
5. Setup following measures for the development of cutting edge manpower for RD&D:
6. Establish an Indian Institute of System-Level Integration, which will carry out leading-edge research in SLI:
7. Setup an agency to evolve Framework of standards viz. CMM, SPICE, ISO9000 etc. This agency should also work for assessment and certification for compliance to standards and processes at affordable cost.
8. Set up easily accessible Patenting cells to provide both consultancy and actual patenting/ copyrighting services to IT professionals.
9. Establish Tool rooms and design support centers for providing modern tools to the developer community at a reasonable cost. Further, ensure development of Indian tool sets for the above purpose. Initially the following areas could be considered:
10. Institute Specific projects for IT interface and IT development tools in Indian languages. These projects could be used to set up Indian standards.
11. Setup following fiscal and operational measures to boost growth of IT RD&D:
This "Framework for RD&D" enlists a set of policy guidelines. It is expected that Implementation Group will keep in mind the strengths and achievements of existing mechanisms and organizations while working out the implementation plan, with a view to harness their strengths to achieve the objectives.
B. National Technology Park (NTP)
The Ministry of Defence has made the following further recommendations/suggestions concerning IT RD&D:
17. The concept of National Technology Park (NTP) will be encouraged for R&D and promotion of key technologies to support establishment of National Information Infrastructure.
18. Departments concerned with core technologies will provide infrastructure support to enable integrated development. These Departments will evolve necessary procedures for development, transfer of technology, manufacturing and post deployment support.
19. An Inter-department committee will be established to formulate policy and programme to evolve/adopt national standards for Information Technology in consultation with Bureau of Standards and will submit its report in 90 days.
20. To enable India to be a global competitor there is a need to enhance the velocity of business and quality of products. All PSUs, R&D Institutions and Technology Support agencies will apply techniques of resource planning and initiate time bound programmes to modernise their units.
21. Government recognises the need to manufacture IT products in consonance with the open system interconnect model. The Department of Electronics will institute measures for its revival and sustenance at world class level.
22. The scope of civil defence will be enlarged to include Cyberspace. To manage the Cyber related threats and disaster recovery measures, a National Information Infrastructure Security Agency under the National Security Council will be constituted.
23. Government will encourage and participate in joint ventures in Microelectronics, Surface mounted devices and professional grade components required in the field of Information Technology.
24. Appreciating the demand of rapid change in IT industry, the Government will suitably amend Laws to enable relocation, reorganisation and retraining in the IT industry.
25. In pursuance of the stated objective of 1% to 3% of Budget for IT, all Departments will make their IT Roadmap 2008 and, will promulgate milestones along with yearly financial projections to meet their targets.
26. To keep pace with the Rapid developments in the field of IT, the Government will revise procedures for clearance of IT related projects in 4 to 6 months.
C. Software Tool Rooms and Design Support Services
27. The WESEE of the Ministry of Defence has made the following recommendation regarding Software Tool Rooms and Design Support Services:
The National Taskforce on Information Technology (IT) and Software Development (SD) has identified Software Enabled Services (SES) sector as one of the possible niche area for the export and self-reliance in high-end information technology products and services. This vision has been driven by the availability of english-speaking, trained and comparatively cheaper technical manpower in India. While examining this issue in detail the Task Force had also addressed the need for raising the present productivity level of Indian software engineers and domain specialists from present range of $ 15,000-$ 40,000 to $ 150,000-$ 200,000.
The Task Force noted that high level design, simulation, control room prototyping covering a large spectrum of engineering disciplines, metrics, validation, pre-prototyping, proof of concept etc. are very well suited to the professionals skills available in the country.
The Task Force was also appraised by industry representatives about experience of some of the early entrants into the overseas market in Electronic Design Automation (EDA). Computer Aided Design (CAD) and similar other areas. It emerged that many of them have exported market savvy designs of automative products, model evaluation and complex design validation solutions.
Software Tools Enormity, Spread and Complexity:
The field of Computer Science and Technology has evolved itself into a large number of distinct disciplines at various levels of pure sciences, technologies, products, systems and services.
The development at each level is perceptible and deemed completed when the mathematical efficacy underlying its evolution is repeatedly verifiable scientifically. This requires use of a large number of tools which can assist the very process of design, development engineering, production, testing, integration, validation, verification, quality assurance, packaging, documentation, training, end-usage and so on; not only for micro electronics but any other conceivable product. The list of these tools in indeed is very large.
Today the tools have become the mainstay of Information Technology and its applications in each one of its facets. The use of these tools is not only inescapable but no individual, group, company or agency engaged in IT enabled developments can undermine their critical role. In terms of economics and competitiveness in technology, today, no society or nation can ignore judicious use of software tools. Therefore for India to be an IT Super Power, the penetration of tools in our IT environment are as critical as power supply to our information systems.
Use of Software Tools vis-ā-vis Penetration level in India:
The work culture in development of high-end technology, products and services in any area requires use of software tools, state-of-the-art workstations, PCs and other support products and services. The high-end tools in the form of Software Engineering Environment (SEE) for design of real time systems, Concurrent Engineering Environments (CEE), Computer Aided Design (CAD), Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM), Electronic Design Automation (EDA) etc. have been available in the world market since early nineties. However due to their high cost, the penetration in Indian market has been negligible when compared with USA, Japan and European countries. As a result very few large installations are available in both government and private sectors.
In addition to the initial higher cost, the obsolescence with version level if cycle of 1 to 3 years makes the use of these tools unaffordable for the smaller companies. This is found to be the primary reason that the professional companies despite being able to pool together requisite talent and skills are not able to enter local as well as overseas market. It is therefore necessary to find an affordable solution to circumvent this problem and evolve a promotional framework at national level for meaningful penetration of these tools. It also emerged that there is potential for considerable export earnings if skills and tool based infrastructure and support services can be created in the country. This can become one of the mission areas as identified by the National Task Force for penetration of Indian IT industry into the export market.
A strategy is presented to create comprehensive "Software Tool Rooms and Design Support Services" at strategic locations including the Software Technology Parks, PSUs, DRDO laboratories and in Corporate Sector to enable Indian potential design agencies, industry and individuals to undertake high-end design, simulation, system engineering, control room prototyping etc. on turn key basis within India as well as penetration into the overseas market in consonance with the intent and aspirations of the country to become IT Super Power by the year 2008.
Tool Room Objectives and Potential Applications:
The Tool Room and Design Support Services Centre may offer a wide spectrum of services such as design and development, training, consultancy, software-housing, buying-house, design bureau etc. to a large number of dissimilar, diverse and widely dispersed environments to suite the needs of individuals, work-groups, industry and institutions.
Frame Work Based Solution Strategy:
It is proposed that suitable market specific centres be created at strategic locations throughout the country in the form of "Software Tool Rooms" and "Design Support Services" (STR & DSS) centres. These facilities may be licensed for online use by the individual enterpreneurs, design teams, institutions, government agencies industry etc. The types of tools and services can be mixed and matched to suit the local needs of end users. The facilities should offer world class, state-of-the practice tools and services at affordable cost.
Scope and Diversity of Services:
The scope of functionality, services and facilities in these Tool Rooms and Design Support Services are further amplified in the succeeding paragraphs.
Proposed Architecture and Configuration of the Facilities:
Software Tool Rooms: The Software Tool Rooms can be created encompassing the following:
Software Related Design Support Services : As part of the Tool Rooms, it is also proposed to provide Tools and Design Support Services to enable the following.
Design of Tools and their Export Potential :
The penetration of software tools in India has been marginal when compared with world market. Consequently the awareness level has been very low. On the other hand due to the inherent complexity in design and scientific bearing, these tools are difficult to produce and therefore are very expensive. It is perceived that once these tools begin to be used commonly in our work centres, our facilities become beta sites and the tool vendors recognize the potential of our talent; India can become an oasis for development of these tools. The idea is that like other forms of software, the tool vendors may utilize India as a potential development-cum-out sourcing base or simply an offshore site for tool development. The national talent can indeed meet this challenge. This would of course require considerable hand holding by DOE, NIC, NASSCOM etc.
Tools are germane to developments in a competitive world where cycle times for even major products are shrinking from years to months. Some complex engineering solutions are not even possible without the use of modern day software intensive tools. The penetration and usage of these tools in India has remained at low key primarily due to high cost, faster obsolescence rate and lack of opportunities for their use.
The National Task Force on IT and SD, has identified export of high-end design of various products as a possible mission area for promotion. These designs would require use of software tools, which are expensive and need to be imported which makes their penetration and usage unattractive.
A framework is suggested based on the building block concept where by these tools can be centrally procured and integrated in the form of "Software Tools Rooms and Design Support Services" and, offered for use by individuals, work groups, teams, industry and institutions. The National Task Force on IT and SD recommends implementation of this concept on a national scale. The concept if implemented with care and caution can become the lynchpin to boost exports and create inherent strengths in the design of world class products in the country. This initiative will require higher initial investments and promotional efforts on the part of national agencies viz. DOE, NIC, CII, NASSCOM, MAIT etc.