The Square Kilometre Array project will be the world's largest radio telescope network
In an era marked by groundbreaking astronomical endeavours, India has joined as an important player in the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project. The project represents a quantum leap in the quest to unravel the mysteries of the cosmos.
The Union Cabinet's recent approval for India’s participation in the international mega science project, at a cost of INR 1250 crore, was announced by the Department of Atomic Energy in its year-end review on December 29, 2023.

The SKA is not a conventional telescope but a colossal ensemble of antennas, slated to be dispersed across two continents. In its initial phase, the SKA will feature approximately 200 dishes in South Africa's Karoo region and over 130,000 low-frequency antennas in Western Australia's Murchison Shire. These strategically chosen locations offer the dual benefits of atmospheric clarity and radio silence, essential for undistorted cosmic observations.

This innovative array is designed to probe the universe with unprecedented detail across a range of radio frequencies. Its extraordinary sensitivity is expected to yield insights into the earliest galaxies and stars, the intricacies of cosmic magnetism, the nature of gravity, and potentially, extraterrestrial life. Moreover, the SKA is poised for serendipitous discoveries, given its advanced capabilities surpassing any existing astronomical facility.

India's contribution to the SKA project is multifaceted and pivotal. The National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA), based in Pune and operating under the aegis of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and Department of Science and Technology (DST), leads India's participation. The involvement is not limited to scientific research but extends to technological innovation, particularly in the SKA's Telescope Manager segment. This segment, akin to the observatory's central nervous system, orchestrates the operation of the entire array, a task of immense complexity.

Developed in collaboration with Indian IT industries, the Telescope Manager's software harnesses cutting-edge tools and ideas, propelling the SKA into the realm of an "IT telescope." This development utilizes India's proficiency in software and computing management of intricate systems
The SKA-India Consortium (SKAIC), encompassing about 20 national organizations, supervises SKA-related initiatives in India. These efforts extend to collaborations with precursor and pathfinder facilities, such as the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) in Australia and the Giant Metre wave Radio Telescope (GMRT) in India. The Pune-based centre has also voiced the immense role India’s longstanding engagement in radio astronomy has played in garnering this milestone.

The GMRT, operated by the NCRA, is a prime example of India's astronomical prowess. Recognized globally for its sensitivity in the 110-1,460 MHz frequency range, GMRT's contributions to the study of pulsars, supernovae, and galaxies have been significant. This expertise and experience have been instrumental in NCRA's leadership role in the SKA.
The SKA project, with participants from over 20 countries and five continents, including India, reflects a grand coalition in scientific exploration. An unprecedented level of international collaboration and diplomacy has been discussed between member states by reiterating the mandatory coordination of efforts in policy making and funding strategy sectors.

India's involvement, sanctioned with substantial funding, signifies its commitment to advancing the frontiers of astronomical research. The SKA’s research into gravitational waves and deep-space phenomena represents a significant alignment with India's broader scientific goals, which are also embodied in other major projects such as the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in Maharashtra. 
Both projects have a collective impact on India’s position at the global space research forefront. The dual involvement has accelerated India’s collaboration with international scientific communities, facilitating the adoption of advanced technology in areas such as high-performance computing, signal processing and precision engineering.

The SKA's capability to explore deep-space phenomena extends beyond gravitational waves. Its unprecedented sensitivity and vast coverage area will allow astronomers to study cosmic objects and events in unparalleled detail. This includes probing the early universe, understanding the formation of stars and galaxies, exploring the nature of dark matter and dark energy, and potentially discovering evidence of extraterrestrial life.
In conclusion, India's integral role in the SKA project is not only a marker of its scientific and technological capabilities but also a symbol of its dedication to unravelling the mysteries of the universe. As the SKA progresses, it promises to not only enhance our understanding of the cosmos but also to showcase India's position at the forefront of global astronomical research.