In 2021, the government announced a comprehensive program for developing the semiconductors and display manufacturing ecosystem in India with a budget of over Rs 76,000 crore.

With the said budget, India Semiconductor Mission (ISM), recently announced by the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY), the government is trying to establish itself in the $553 billion global semiconductor market.

But Member of Niti Aayog and Chancellor of Jawahar Lal Nehru University, VK Saraswat in an exclusive conversation with Business Today said that if India wants to become self-sufficient in semiconductor, then it should not repeat the mistakes of the past.

“When the world was moving into 180 nanometers India was doing 350 nanometers. And now when the world is into seven nanometers, we according to our today’s policy want to do 65 and 90 nanometers,” Saraswat said.

According to him, majority of the chips can be done on 65-90 nanometers, which can go into IoT applications but high-end systems, for example, a data centre, a communication set, telecommunication equipment cannot be done without the latest generation of the devices, which is 28 nanometers and below.

“That’s what I have often repeated in all my discussions with the governments that don’t compromise on 28 nanometers and below. So don’t miss the bus when you are making an investment of $10 billion. It should not be on outdated technology. It should be on the latest,” the former DRDO chief said.

Talking about the PLI policy Saraswat noted, “The PLI policy has come out from the Government of India today that supports large manufacturers. Literally, that kind of investment expected in the PLI policy is not possible to be done by any MSME. So, we should create a PLI policy for MSMEs.”

“We should have a top-down approach to create a market and the only way you can create a market is by having a policy where all the government purchases will be from the Indian market, Indian products will be taken in all government purchases, whether they are laptops or tablets or they are TVs or being manufactured in my country, irrespective of its cost,” he added.

Saraswat, who has vast experience in defense research, added that without having manufacturing at a large-scale India will not become an electronics hub.

“In terms of scale, China is scoring everywhere. Now, how do we get the scale, demand is there in our own country, because globally also, but we have to compete with the global market and all that we have to bring innovation and we have to ensure that we have the methods of manufacturing which are contemporary,” he stated.

Saraswat believes that ramping up the design capabilities is also very crucial. He said that the state governments have to provide the necessary support to the engineering and electronics industry. “Merely saying that I’m opening an electronics cluster by giving X acres of land is not enough, you have to provide all the logistics,” he added.

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