Attempting to get fabs for over two decades now, India has managed to leave an impact with its ambitious India Semiconductor Mission and the Rs 76,000 crore financial outlay, which the union cabinet cleared on December 15 last year. Experts say the scheme is ambitious and the world is already taking notice of it. The participation of global leaders - virtually and in person - at India's first semiconductor conference, called SemiconIndia 2022, reiterates this seriousness. Even Vinod Dham, known as the father of Intel's Pentium chip, and founder of IndoUS Venture Partners is confident that this time India will be successful in getting the fabs.
In India for the three-day SemiconIndia 2022 conference, Dham told Business Today, "My friends in Silicon Valley who have worked in the capacity as leaders of developing new process technologies, process engineers, who have risen to the ranks the vice presidents, and some of them who are semi retirees now, are all excited. There is a tremendous positive feeling. Remember the idea of fab for India is not new. It's been there for a very long time, but it never really was approached from a top-down. If you want to do a $5-10 billion investment, it is not a task of one individual going around meeting the chief minister and bringing something to break the ground and start something. It is a very, very well thought out strategy and approach, which is what the current administration is showing that they have done, and this is what makes it so much more real this time."
Dham is delighted and excited about the fact that finally, India is beginning to seriously undertake this semiconductor fab effort.
"I really have tremendous respect for our honourable Prime Minister for setting the vision and I think it came under perhaps his vision of Aatmanirbhar Bharat. And then one thing led to the other. And of course, semiconductor chips and fabs and displays and all the other components of the ecosystem are part of the overall Aatmanirbhar equation. The excitement, the articulation, the confidence that the way they're approaching the whole issue, and all the bases they are covering. I was very impressed with it," Dham said.
Responding to the question on whether the Rs 76,000 crore outlay for semiconductor and display fabs is enough and if there is more handholding required by the government, Dham pointed out that what the government has announced so far is actually more than adequate.
"Building a fab is not a one-time event. It's like getting on a treadmill, where you start running and the temple keeps on getting steeper and faster, and you have to stay on it. You can't just come off it. So would they need more money down the line, sometime five years from now, maybe perhaps. But then I'm pretty sure if we are succeeding and performing well, these people [the government] are very talented and they will figure out a way to come in, and not only add more money but during the next five years if some policies need to be changed, tweaked or fine-tuned to meet the desires of your particular partner we want to bring, they will do it," he added.
Dham, who is a member of the recently formed advisory committee for India's Semiconductor Mission, has interacted with leaders from the electronics ministry and is confident that they will turn on the dime.
He added, "They will just be on the fly, go out, and the joint secretary is on the move [as well]. Within 24 hours he goes through all the steps and gets the signatures and comes back and delivers the goods. This is a new idea."
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