Recently, the National Security 
Advisors of India and USA led the 
inaugural meeting of the initiative 
on Critical and Emerging Technology 
(iCET).Critical and Emerging Technologies 
(CETs): Meaning and their Importance.

 ●CETs are a subset of advanced technologies that are potentially significant to the national security of a nation.

● This includes a number of fields
(refer image on some of them) with a set of key subfields under them. E.g.

■ Advanced Computing includes Supercomputing, Cloud Computing etc.

● These set of technologies help to:

■ Secure the nation and its people,

■ Expand economic opportunities and prosperity to all, and

■Preserve and promote the socio-cultural values of a democratic nation.

India-US Technology Partnership and iCET

● Technological Partnership is an important aspect of India-US relationship from early days.
● Based on the relationship, It has gone through three distinct phases (refer image).

● The launch of iCET, first announced in May 2022, is touted as the ‘Next Big Thing’ of India-US ties in the era of Global Strategic 
●iCET Objectives: To elevate and expand India-US strategic technology partnership and defense industrial cooperation
between the governments, businesses, and academic institutions of our two countries.

■ At the institutional level, iCET is led by the U.S. National Science Foundation and Department of Science and Technology of India.
● ICET aims to:
■Position two countries as trusted technology partners by building technology value chains and support the co development and co-production of items.

■ Address regulatory restrictions, export controls and mobility barriers.

■ Strengthen partnership between the two countries by creating an ecosystem which curates development and deployment of advanced technologies.

● It focuses on strengthening the India-US partnership on the technologies that will:

■ Drive global growth,

■ Bolster economic competitiveness, and

■ Protect shared national security interests.

● To expand and deepen India-US technology partnership, a number of bilateral initiatives were started between governments, industry and academia in the following domains:

Significance of iCET in India-US Technology Partnership

● Develop Democratic Technological Environment by influencing the ways in which technology is designed, developed, 
governed, and used across the world.

● Guarantee Respect for Universal Human Rights by helping India-US to coordinate on sustaining a free, open, and secure global economy.
● Modernize India’s Industrial Base, especially defence base through indigenously produced jet engines,munition 
related technologies etc.

● Open New Cooperation Opportunities in critical and emerging technologies, co_  development and coproduction, and 
deepen connectivity across our innovation ecosystems.

●Lend a new strategic depth and breadth to India-US relationship by demonstrating a mutual commitment to investing in CETs.

Challenges to Success of iCET

iCET promises a long overdue transformation in India-US technology partnership to overcome limited success of the past initiatives. But a number of domestic and foreign challenges can restrict the progress (or benefits) of iCET such as:

Domestic Challenges

● Low Public Expenditure on Research and Development (R&D) ecosystem (around 0.7% of GDP).

● Lack of Skilled Manpower and Resources to take benefits of the cooperation in  designing and building our own CETs.

● India’s Defence Industrial Complex is dominated by government agencies like Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSU) etc., leaving limited room for private sector.

Foreign Challenges

● Restrictions on the Recipient State by US Arms Export Control Act even if ownership of technology in the US lies with the private sector.

● Trade Focus of Foreign Industries against India’s focus of AatmaNirbhar Bharat; increasing order size to use it as a leverage to gain technology in the arms, energy, civil aviation, nuclear sector etc.
● Intensified Geopolitical Competition/Rivalry with serious consequences on regional and global technology supply chain security. E.g.

■ iCET will reduce India’s dependence on Russian military hardware.

■ It will increase India’s dependence on US military hardware.

● Limited High-level Engagement of US decision-makers or policy advocates for far-reaching technology transfer with India.

Way Forward

● A Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) can be created to facilitate and enable greater cooperation between government 
agencies (DRDO, DPSUs etc.) and private industry, helping in development of the private sector as a repository of defence R&D.
● Overcoming Administrative Issues like limited high-level engagement etc. by:

■Creating an iCET advisory council or a steering committee.

■Regular high-level meetings between National Security Councils (NSCs) of both countries and design a monitoring mechanism involving NSCs. 

● Focus on Achieving Outcome Oriented deliverables by earmarking 4-5 critical areas of cooperation from overall initiatives. 

■ E.g., Defence Innovation and Technology Cooperation must deliver on co-creation of advanced weapons.

● Augmenting Research and Innovation Ecosystem of India through increased R&D expenditure.
● Increase Academic and Government research exchanges, including private sector linkages.


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