INDIA’s $10-bn BET – WILL IT DELIVER?
The harsh facts to start with are; we are already long delayed, we did not allow the fab industry even to take off, if it was not for the pandemic crippled supply chain, the country would not have woken to this reality ever. If the ubiquitous requirements of a chip is proven to government, then what is has been planning done so far and how have the resources been mapped for this project? At the end of the day a nation is a sub-total of any number of major supply chains and it is in their fitness lies the fitness of the nation. Given the precarious situation that semiconductor shortage can create on a large number of industries and the economy in general, the country decided to amp up its chip game with localized manufacturing.
Before commenting on the quantum of financial resources to create chip fab in India, it is also important to know, who are people behind it and what has been the deliberations to decide upon the $10-bn allocation. Has the tech acumen, govt. funding / facilitation and business creation have come together for a long term game or it is a one off decision. This funding if for what duration and for what creation (tech details) exactly, what would be nature of year on year funding required and is the government ready to budget it. What is more important is to know the timelines and our end state or even the threshold, where we can declare partially viable for our market; which means our core supply chains would not be disrupted because of this reason.
How many decades is our vision and who are the technologists and the scientists, who would assist the government in this exercise? The other important factor is do we go the ISMC India way, make a fab on the Indian soil or the TSMC way the tech itself is developed here, one of kind pathbreaking engineering, relentlessly for decades together. How far can the Indian political and bureaucratic leadership go, will be the final story. We cannot have a blueprint for this sector for a vision less then 15-20 years. Only on the funding part, accepting the fact the engineering marvels cannot be made only out of money, China in last 30 years has invested half a trillion dollars. ”The pioneers in semiconductor and IC chip design are even today spending $50 – $70-bn.” Is there any plan to generate further resources through the private, Indian or multinational.
Whenever we have succeeded, the tech leadership has played a tremendous role? The ISRO success story in general or that of APJ Abdul Kalam. We need a doer and a tech visionary to make it happen. Fund allotments have a limited lease of life, if not qualified with a guarantee of the government for requirement based future funding. The present crisis management mode will take us a little far, then we will be lost in the wilderness. We cannot become fully dependent on ISMCs and TSMCs, within or outside India on their terms and conditions. So, there are many if and buts beyond what meets the eye. When can we expect the first production out of ISMC proposed plant near Mysore and of what quantum? We have to be in for a long haul, with no intentions to slow or quit after decided to get into the trade of making and keep improving an engineering marvel called semiconductor. How far we reach will depend on how much we invest in it, money being only one of the components.
PURE INDIAN SEMICONDUCTOR FAB IS A CHALLENGE TO OUR ENGINEERING PROWESS.