The Square Kilometre Array (SKA), the next generation radio telescope, is now entering the design stage for SKA phase-I, that has started in November 2013 and will run for three years, after which SKA-I construction will start towards the end of 2017. Early science is expected to be possible from around 2020 or so. The capabilities of SKA-I will be phenomenal, for a variety of science goals and applications, and will far surpass that of any existing or planned radio astronomy facility. The SKA is a truly international telescope, with India being one of the member countries in the SKA Organisation and hence involved in the design and operation of SKA-I.
SKA has already formed a number of science working groups which are working towards achieving their long term science programs. This is an opportune moment for astronomers in India to start working on a long-term strategy towards the use of the SKA in the country.
The SKA will be roughly contemporaneous with other International facilities like Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) etc. in optical/IR bands and next generation successors of Swift, Chandra and XMM-Newton in the gamma-ray and X-ray bands such as Space Variable Objects Monitor (SVOM), Square Meter Arcsecond-Resolution Telescope for X-rays (SMART-X) and ATHENA missions. Therefore, multiwaveband observational efforts with wide fields of view will be the key to progress of transients astronomy from the middle 2020s offering unprecedented deep images and high spatial and spectral resolutions. Indian astronomers with wide ranging experience of low frequency radio astronomy in a variety of astronomical phenomena and targets would be particularly well-placed to pursue time critical transient objects with SKA and observatories at other bands.