Technology, Geopolitics and India’s Quest for Tech Self-Reliance
Dr Saroj Bishoyi, Research Fellow, VIF

Technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), digital platforms, machine learning (ML), data analytics, autonomous vehicles, blockchain, internet of things (IoT), virtual and augmented reality, and robotics have brought profound changes in almost every part of life across the world. More states are competing to develop and deploy these technologies to shape the economic and military power to their advantage, and control their supply chains. The global pandemic and the ongoing geopolitical conflicts have further shaped the Global Value Chains (GVCs) and increased the risks of supply chain disruptions.

In this evolving geopolitical landscape and intensifying rivalry between major powers, India seeks to build a Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) ecosystem in the country to achieve technological self-reliance, position itself among the top manufacturing countries in the world and integrate into the GVCs, which will further drive its economic growth, industrial exports, and create new jobs. Hence, it has been increasingly prioritising to boost the domestic production of electronics, computers, mobile phones, telecommunication equipment, vehicles, defence and space technologies. It is also deploying its successes in sectors like Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) and leveraging its growing trade with the Global South. The objective is to shift the GVCs and develop world’s dependency on India.

In this endeavour, India achieved several milestones, including in space, defence, and digital sectors, but a lot remains to be done. In this setting, this paper analyses and examines the geopolitics of technology with a focus on the great power competition to develop and deploy emerging technologies; the impact of global pandemic and geopolitical tensions on global supply chains; India’s quest for technology self-reliance in critical domains; its efforts to build an STI ecosystem in the country; India’s growing technology partnership with friendly foreign countries; key challenges that India faces in its efforts to become technology self-reliant; and, finally, it touches on the future prospects in the field of emerging and disrupting technologies in the evolving geopolitical landscape.

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