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If its technology, it ought to be Karnataka. The famed IT city and the India’s silicon valley remains in the centre. It was Texas Instruments which put shop in Bangalore, way back in the 1980s and since then there has been no looking back. Through different stages and phases, with intense competition from other cities and states, Karnataka remains to the prima donna of IT, not only in India, but has a distinct place globally and has been maintaining it for long. From Y2K, to home grown companies becoming global, to becoming the back office of the world, to creating an enviable pool of tech resources to a favourite startup hub of global repute, it has contributed to the nation as none else.

It is in the fitness of things that Karnataka leads the way in India’s making its dream come true in the semiconductor fab. By all accounts Karnataka may get the first semiconductor fab facility, if one were to go by a series of developments that have been happening in the last six months, starting with the singing of MOU with ISMC. The International Semiconductor Consortium’s semiconductor has a strong chance to get into the construction mode, much sooner than expected. It could be as early as Feb 2023. ISMC makes its foray into India starting with 40-65 nm analog chips, primarily catering defence and auto sectors. It all now depends on the central government’s approvals.

Given the precarious situation the country has been in with regards to the semiconductor availability, the country had pulled off all the stops to make semiconductor fab happen at the earliest. The centre had already announced subsidies up to 50% of the project cost under the Rs.76,000 crore Production Linked Scheme in 2021. US restrictions on China has encouraged companies to shift to India. India has design capabilities is well known. ISMC will be among the three consortia shortlisted by the Centre for incentives. ISMC is joint venture of UAE’s Next Orbit Ventures and Israeli Tower Semiconductor. Tower was acquired by Intel in Feb this year.

The other two who have also made the cut and would define the future of semiconductor production in India are Foxconn and Vedanta and Singapore’s IGSS. We have an interesting crossroad, there route seems to clear and would be in the striking range as is being talked about. Nonetheless, the gestation period of a semiconductor fab can be tricky. Foxconn and Vedanta have already announced of setting up a semiconductor facility in Ahmedabad. Singapore’s IGSS Ventures is venturing into Tamilnadu with a commitment of setting up a $3.2 billion semiconductor park. After decades of tech decadence in this area, India’s future seems to be brightening up. On it depends our brain of the economy.

Sanjay Sahay

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