What should India do to boost semiconductors?

February 4, 2013

I’ve already written a lot on the Indian semiconductor industry. Now, there’s nothing new to say. Even then, I am literally coaxed to say what I think the Indian semiconductor industry should do! As though the industry will listen to a nobody like me! 🙂

First, the industry should stop wasting time running here and there, and focus on getting the job done! Semiconductors isn’t a new area, and has been in existence even before the India Semiconductor Association (ISA) came into being in 2005.

There have been talks (ongoing since about 2006) about building fabs in India. Well, where are they? Back in 2010, I wrote a post titled Indian industry proposes to extend deadline of India’s semicon policy up to March 2015! One sincerely hopes that has actually happened!

India could consider building 150/180/200mm fabs that tackle local problems via indigenous applications. And, there are scores of local issues that need to be dealt with! I’ve said before, and am repeating myself at the sake of repetition — the semiconductor industry is NOT the IT industry, but it appears to being treated like one, especially in India!

Indian companies could consider developing firms in the assembly testing, verification and packaging (ATMP) space. Very little has happened so far and a lot more needs to be done. There could be some attempts to attract and invite companies in areas such as RFID to address local problems and develop local applications, unless India has given up on RFIDs.

I really have very little idea whether there is any interest in India to pursue global companies in PDP, OLED/LED space for setting up manufacturing units. Although, I can safely bet that if it is the Chinese companies that Indian firms are setting themselves up to take on, we would have a very long way to go!

India also needs to kindly forget about the ‘states race’! It has not helped anyone so far, nor will it help anyone in future!! In the end, we are all looking to develop India, aren’t we?

I didn’t even know that there is so much time required for setting up a pan-industry panel that will determine the top five products that are important for India! Seriously!! Anyone, who resides in India, should be able to tell you that the key sectors in India are automotive, consumer, industrial, medical and telecom. Agree that automotive and certain medical electronics areas can be expensive. Well, there are still three areas to pursue!

If anyone had simply bothered to send me an email or even call me, I’d have very happily told them about the top five product lines that are important for India and much more! 😉  There is a pressing need to develop a robust Indian semiconductor industry, led by local companies! Many would agree that all of this seems very easy to say, but difficult to manage! 😉

  1. Sathish Gowda
    February 5, 2013 at 2:09 am

    Pradeep, you hit the spot again, good one! And, looks like you are optimistic about seeing a real fab in India, but I am not. While the ecosystem needed for a Fab hardly exists, there were some strategic initiatives by Dept. of Science and Technology, GOI, to develop manufacturing infrastructure for electronics and semiconductor devices. Do you know if there is a progress and a timeline to achieve something?

    • February 5, 2013 at 8:21 am

      No, Satish, I don’t know of any progress. Also, don’t you think the entrepreneurs need to do something? Actually, there is no one, yet, of note in the Indian semicon industry. Wonder when (or whether) we will get such a person!

  2. Kindra
    February 5, 2013 at 3:19 am

    I was able to find good advice from your articles.

  3. sanjeev
    February 5, 2013 at 5:48 am

    Thanks for bringing up an interesting point for Debate. All we know, the Indian electronics industry is growing rapidly and now we constitute almost 8-10 percent of global market. If we go by ISA figures, then by 2012, we should be consuming almost 20 percent of the global market. On the other hand, we contribute precisely 1.3 percent of the global market.

    This is an alarming situation, the high import bills on electronics and telecom products & petro products are sufficient to push us several years back.

    I know there are several observations can be made in this regard, but the fundamental reason why a customer is buying an imported product or why a retailer is selling imported product, is due to “Disability Cost” which is nearly 20-25 percent compared to other developed countries. We know the obvious reasons behind high disability cost.

    Recently, the SIA proposed several initiatives for the US to drive the semiconductor markets like reworking on the reform corporate taxation, federal supports for universities for innovations, supporting the intellectual capitals, etc.

    Even the above points you can find in our electronics policies and visions. But the main issue is the lack of commitments and execution plan. If we draft a policy today and implement in 10 years, then by that time new problems may obsolete your policies and ruin all the investments. This is the reason most of the VC and angel investors don’t want to put money in this industry (in Indian context).

    In summary, if we are really serious about the ESDM industry, we need to be proactive and start acting.

    • February 5, 2013 at 8:18 am

      Great comment! ‘If we draft a policy today and implement in 10 years, by that time new problems may obsolete your policies and ruin all the investments.’ Wonder when will someone start doing something, seriously.. high time!

  4. Mares
    February 6, 2013 at 8:51 am

    Terrific post, and I was wanting to know if you could write a little more on this subject? I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Cheers!

  5. TRN
    February 8, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    Though the talk has been about semiconductor fabs, there are other adjacent areas that have shown success. For instance, news that gives a shot in the arm – is Cadence acquiring Cosmic Circuits, a Bangalore based Indian semiconductor start-up. This success needs to be analysed and lessons applied to fab building.

  6. Vignesh Mahalingam
    February 12, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    Stumbled upon this blog, while searching about epitaxial growth! 200mm or 300mm fabs-those are the two options – I am a Master student pursuing Micro- and Nanotechnology and I don’t know which one is more economically viable. This suggestion is based on the current trend in research. Most of the 200mm fabs are converted into 300mm. Hence, I guess the later is more profitable from a firm’s perspective.

    The technology nodes should be from 45 nm to 32 nm. Suggestions from a panel containing Indian researchers and professors from all over the globe is required. I think it is possible to set up a fab in 3-6 years. We have to do this now, and not later, as we already have a delayed start; further delay will result in loss of intelligent minds in India.

    I consider this no more as an optimistic thinking or a dream; it is a necessity. Depending on only one sector to fuel our job demands and forcing the current and future generations on one course of study will reveal its pitfalls in the future. People having power and money in India should not think of short term profits, but rather of the long term development of this country.

    Furthermore, they should work hand in hand with researchers and professors as a part of industrial research. The gap between industry and research can be closed only if this happens. I will also be happy if this happens as a result of foreign investment and so-called “affiliate fabs” of big firms like AMD, Intel, Motorola, etc. come up in India. If this is not going to happen in 10 years, we lost the race by not competing in it. These are my personal opinions.

  7. Trisha
    February 22, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you writing this article and also the rest of the website is very good.

  8. Willie
    February 22, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    I need to to thank you for this excellent read! I certainly loved every bit of it. I’ve got you bookmarked to check out new things you post…

  9. SP
    February 27, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    Guys- sorry to disappoint you… but i am not seeing this happening. First and foremost you need constant, reliable and huge amounts of electricity and water. this is the biggest problem that i think which hinder development.

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