India’s Semiconductor Mission

Dr. Vishal Sharma
“India is already a digital pawer, nuclear power and space power; soon India will become an Electronic Power” -PM Narendra Modi

India’s Semiconductor Mission (ISM) approved by the cabinet chaired by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi, sometime back is to address the global semiconductor shortage and encourage manufacturers to set up their semiconductor facility in India. Its main objective is to position India as the global hub for Electronic System Design and Manufacturing.
The future is intricately intertwined with technology, yet the question persists: which technological marvel will lead the way? It could be things like Artificial Intelligence, Nanotechnology, Robotics, Internet of Things (IoT), Image Processing, Augmented Reality, or something else we haven’t thought of yet. But what’s at the heart of all these new technologies? The answer is “Electronics”. In the capacity of Professor of Electronics, I confidently state that the invention of the ‘Transistor: a semiconductor device’ at Bell Labs in California, USA, stands as the most fundamental achievement of the 20th century. This groundbreaking innovation has not only revolutionized the entire world but also paved the way for the unprecedented digital revolution we are currently witnessing. The semiconductor industry is a key sector in the world economy, producing electronic components used in a variety of products ranging from aeroplanes to computers, from missiles to refrigerators, from space stations to bread toaster and many more. Nowadays, it is nearly impossible to imagine a device without semiconductor inside. Infact, any device with an on/off switch has one or often dozens or hundreds of semiconductor devices inside.
What are Semiconductors?
Semiconductors are a special type of solid material that falls between conductors (things that let electricity flow easily) and insulators (things that don’t let electricity flow). They’re really important in making various kind of electronic devices like diodes, transistors, and integrated circuits. Such devices have found wide application because of their compactness, reliability, power efficiency, and low cost. Semiconductors are the foundation of modern technology, allowing for the creation of complex electronics and communication systems. Semiconductors have changed many industries, including healthcare, transportation, and entertainment, by powering our smartphones and laptops and enabling artificial intelligence and driverless vehicles. Their significance stems from their ability to improve efficiency, speed, and connectivity in our increasingly interconnected world. As technology advances, the demand for semiconductors will rise, making them an essential part in defining the future.
What is the India Semiconductor Mission (ISM)?
The ISM was launched in 2021 with a total financial outlay of Rs76,000 crore under the aegis of the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY), Government of India. It is part of the comprehensive program for the development of sustainable semiconductor and display ecosystem in the country. The programme aims to provide financial support to companies investing in semiconductors, display manufacturing and design ecosystem. It also promotes and facilitates indigenous Intellectual Property (IP) generation and encourages, enables and incentivizes Transfer of Technologies (ToT). ISM will enable collaborations and partnership programs with national and international agencies, industries and institutions for catalyzing collaborative research, commercialization and skill development.
The ISM is focused on three key areas:
Chip design: The ISM is supplying funding to Indian startups and companies to develop their own chip designs.
Chip manufacturing: The ISM is working to attract foreign companies to set up chip manufacturing facilities in India.
Semiconductor testing and packaging: The ISM is providing funding to Indian companies to develop their capabilities in semiconductor testing and packaging.
What are Semiconductor chips?
Semiconductor chips, often simply referred to as “chips” are not to be confused with the snack food enjoyed by children. They are tiny electronic components made of semiconductor material, typically silicon. Semiconductor chips contain integrated circuits (ICs) that consist of numerous electronic components, including transistors, diodes, resistors, and capacitors, all fabricated onto a small piece of semiconductor material. These components are interconnected to perform specific functions, such as processing data, storing information, or controlling the operation of electronic devices.
These chips are the building blocks of modern electronics and play a vital role in powering the digital revolution and are integral to numerous aspects of modern life.
Why there is a need of Promoting Semiconductor Industry?
Semiconductor is the heart of modern economics. In today’s world of technology, when almost everything revolves around electronic gadgets, one cannot overstate the importance these microchips hold. India’s own consumption of semiconductors is expected to cross USD 80 billion by 2026 and to USD 110 billion by 2030. There are not many countries in the world that manufacture these chips. The Semiconductor industry is currently dominated by the United States of America, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and the Netherlands. Germany is also an emerging producer of integrated circuits (ICs). In all this, it might actually be a good idea for India to get on the bus early. However, recent developments and strategic initiatives have catapulted India into the spotlight. The nation has made significant strides in fostering a conducive environment for semiconductor manufacturing and research and development.
Recent Developments in India
On March 13th, 2024, in a significant stride forward, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of Tata-Powerchip Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp’s chip fabrication unit, valued at Rs 91,000 crores, in Dholera, Gujarat. This endeavor positions Dholera as India’s pioneer in commercial semiconductor fabrication faculty in the country. Additionally, PM Modi inaugurated the CG Power-Renesas Outsourced Semiconductor Assembly and Test (OSAT) facility, worth Rs 7,600 crores, in Sanand, Gujarat, and the Tata OSAT unit, valued at Rs 27,000 crores, in Morigaon, Assam. These facilities will go a long way in boosting the semiconductor ecosystem in the country, besides generating thousands of jobs in the semiconductor industry. Together, these three projects signify India’s official entry into the domain of commercial chip fabrication units.
In essence, India’s aspirations to become the next global semiconductor leader are bold and ambitious. The focus on “Make in India” combining with “Indian Semiconductor Mission” paving the way for Viksit Bharat@2047. With a growing domestic market, Government support, and a thriving ecosystem, India is well-positioned to make its mark in the semiconductor industry. However, overcoming technological challenges, building a skilled workforce, ensuring a resilient supply chain and green energy for sustainable manufacturing are critical for realizing this vision. As the world looks towards India as a potential semiconductor powerhouse, the nation’s commitment to innovation and self-reliance will shape the future of this vital industry. Acknowledging the critical role of electronic chips in the tech landscape of the 21st-century, PM Modi said that “Made in India” and “Designed in India” chips will play a major role in taking India towards innovation, self-reliance and modernization.
The 21st century is a technology-driven century and cannot be imagined without Electronics Chips made in India, designed in India and manufactured in India.
(The author is HOD Electronics GCW Udhampur)