India has undertaken an ambitious programme to digitalise, innovate, manufacture and create. The seeds have been sown and the first few shoots should be visible soon.
Last May, in a speech in Ahmedabad, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India would move from being “a chip taker to a chip maker.” In a speech that was full of policy pronouncement at the Digital India Week 2022, the PM said the country was targeting $300 billion worth of manufacturing of electronics and related components in the next couple of years. This would literally be a seismic multifold jump.
“The country which fails to adopt modern technology will always be left behind,” said the PM and added, “India was a victim of this during the third industrial revolution. But today we can proudly say that India is guiding the world in the fourth industrial revolution – Industry 4.0.”
At the same event, he unveiled multiple digital initiatives —each one critical for the common man :—India Stack Global, My Scheme Platform, Meri Pehchan, Digital India Bhashini, Digital India Genesis, Chips to Startup (C2S) programme — each one of which is aimed at the normal Joe or the citizen at large to improve their ability to access technology . It was also aimed at giving thumbs up to the startup ecosystem to use the opportunity and innovate. The first 30 institutions backed under the Chips to Startup (C2S) programme were also announced at this event.
Cut to March 2023, in fact this week, when Union Railways, Electronics and IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw told a Confederation of Indian Industry’s (CII) Partnership Summit that the country’s first semiconductor fabrication unit (A semiconductor fab is a manufacturing plant in which raw silicon wafers are turned into integrated circuits) is likely to be announced in the next few weeks. “We are almost at an inflection point when the first fab should be declared in a few weeks. And that is just the beginning,” Vaishnaw said and added, “India is slated to become a vibrant semiconductor industry in the coming 3-4 years.”
PLI scheme for chips
Months before the PM’s speech in Ahmedabad, the Government had in December 2021 announced a $10 billion PLI scheme to incentivise the manufacturing of chips in India. The Covid-19 pandemic that devastated economies globally also brought forth sharply the dangers of depending on China for every manufacturing need. India was as badly hit as the rest of the world.
The global China plus one format, which has now become a worldwide phrase, has seen India competing with the United States, South Korea, and multiple European nations to get the best companies to manufacture here. In other words, become the best ‘plus one’ to start with. And, mind you, each one of these countries has rolled out the red carpet and huge subsidies to lure the best. Latest reports suggest India is talking to half a dozen global semiconductor companies to set shop in India. At least four of them are sure to set base here.
Pact signed with US
On March 10, the United States and India also signed an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on this critical subject. As Business Standard reported, the two countries “ inked an initial pact on increasing private sector cooperation in the area of semiconductors under which the two countries would facilitate business opportunities and develop an ecosystem with a view to reduce their dependency on China and Taiwan.”“
At the same CII event Vaishnav had said: “Today, 99 per cent of mobile phones used here are made in India, which is in stark contrast to the situation 10 years ago when out of 100 phones, as much as 99 per cent were imported……the world today is dominated by a few telecom technology players and that is a barrier in many ways. That is why we decided to build our own endto-end telecom stack.” That stack was recently tested for 10 million simultaneous calls.
It is a formidable odyssey that India has chosen to undertake. Building a digital ecosystem, getting the building blocks in place and getting Industry and startups to innovate and ignite a revolution of new products and processes .
The journey has just begun!
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