“India has missed the bus repeatedly on electronics and semiconductors. There was a lack of strategic and political vision and a big dose of incompetence. Fairchild semiconductors, which is the precursor to Intel, came to India in 1957 for a packaging unit and we chased them away. That packaging unit went on to become Asia’s largest packaging hub in Malaysia. We set up a fab for silicon and germanium transistors that had shut down. India’s major VLSI facility, Semi-Conductor Laboratory (SCL), perished, as a mysterious fire in 1989 halted production until 1997.”This was stated by Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Union Minister of State for Electronics & IT, at Gandhinagar in Gujarat, during a media interaction. “In 1987, India was just two years behind the latest chip manufacturing technology. Today, we are 12 generations behind – this is how far behind we are as a nation in the area of semiconductors,” he added.
Chandrasekhar emphasised the major strides made by the Government under Prime Minister Modi in rebuilding India’s electronics ecosystem and pushing the country to become one of the world’s fastest-growing electronics manufacturers. He highlighted the significant opportunity that India possesses in the semiconductor space and how the Government is determined to utilise it.
“It has been 19 months since we set the ball rolling in the semiconductor ecosystem. There was a lack of political vision, strategies and there were incompetencies and missed opportunities for decades. This has held India back from semiconductors. Today, We can achieve in the coming Techade what some neighbouring nations took 30 years and $ 200 billion and still failed to achieve,” he said.
The Minister spoke about the core role of semiconductors in today’s tech-driven world. He said that India is transforming into a major player in the global electronics and semiconductors supply chain.
“The demand for electronics, digital products and services is only intensifying. Electronics is at the core of our lives today and Semiconductors in turn at the core of Electronics. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has rebuilt our Electronics ecosystem and we are one of the world’s fastest growing electronics manufacturers. We were almost nothing in 2014 in the semiconductor ecosystem and today we are increasingly becoming a big presence in the global value chain for electronics,” he added.
Tracing the missed opportunities since the 1960s, he pointed out that the previous governments failed to envision the importance of a semiconductor ecosystem in India. He shed light on the job opportunities lost to neighbouring nations that offered incentives to global semiconductor companies. He expressed optimism about India’s current investments and collaborations with major semiconductor companies.
“International semiconductor majors wanted to start operations in South India. Despite hiring experts and setting up a cleanroom, it faced numerous roadblocks. The project eventually moved to China, resulting in the loss of a semiconductor facility and 4,000 jobs for India. Micron, a world major in the Semiconductor memory space, its $2.75 Bn ATMP project in Gujarat is expected to create at least 5,000 new direct and 15,000 community jobs,” he said.
The second edition of the Semicon India conference will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Modi tomorrow. Leading global players of the semiconductor industry–Micron Technology, Applied Materials, and Lam Research–are participating in the conference.