India to Spend $1.4 Billion for National Knowledge Network

By connecting universities and technology institutes across the country, the 15-gigabit broadband connection aims to bridge the Indian knowledge gap.

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A part of India’s prestigious National Knowledge Network (NKN) project to link more than 18,000 colleges across the country with a 15-gigabit broadband connection has successfully been implemented. The virtual classroom and inter-connections between several IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology) have already been achieved, say informed sources.

The initial phase of the NKN was inaugurated by the prime minister in April, and a few months ago, the entire project was cleared by the cabinet committee on infrastructure. Sachin Pilot, the minister of state for Communications and Information Technology, had earlier said that the government has already approved a project for the establishment of the NKN at an outlay of US$1.4 billion.

It is expected that learning materials will be hosted on the network, alongside portals where students can tap expertise from professionals from the colleges across India. The successful implementation of NKN at IITs comes as shot in the arm for the mission.

Gigabit learning

“In the next phase, we will be connecting most of the universities. The CSIR (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research) labs will be connected, and once you have this kind of gigabit connectivity, teaching, as well as research, are going to be much better,” stated R. Chidambaram, principal scientific adviser to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and a former director of Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC).

“Suppose you are developing some component for the fast breeder reactor and it involves the Indira Gandhi Center for Atomic Research (IGCAR) and other universities, any change in design can be quickly implemented,” he added.
The project will be implemented by the National Informatics Center (NIC) over a period of 10 years. NKN, which was approved on March 25, 2010, will facilitate creation, acquisition and sharing of knowledge resources among the large participating Institutions in the country.

The applications that are identified for implementation and delivery on NKN are agriculture, education, health, e-governance and grid computing (high performance computing). The government of India claims that NKN will bridge the existing knowledge gap in the country. It will help the country evolve as a knowledge society and spur economic activities in the knowledge domain, says a press note from the government.

About the author

Uday Lal Pai, udaylalpai@gmail.com, is a freelance journalist based in India.

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