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The flow of investments from companies seeking to benefit from the government’s plan to establish a semiconductor industry in India may begin within a year, Ashwini Vaishnaw, communications and information technology minister, said in an interview.

Last week, India approved a $10 billion incentive plan to establish chip and display industries in the country as it seeks to become an electronics manufacturing hub. The government expects to attract investments worth 1.7 trillion for more than 20 units.

The Centre plans to notify the scheme in a few weeks, fast track approvals and handhold companies as they set up a manufacturing base in India, Vaishnaw said, adding a workforce of 85,000 semiconductor engineers is being readied to help overcome the chip shortage. Edited excerpts:

Under the semiconductor incentive plan, how do you see the development of the ecosystem over the next couple of years?

Every country wants a semiconductor fab because that’s the sunrise area. Our policy is different. First, we have thought of a clear ecosystem: from design to fab to the smaller ones, the compound semiconductors, to packaging industry, to creating talent and, then, finally, giving a clear 20-year road map to the industry. Second, 15 years back, there was hardly any electronics manufacturing in India. Today, we have $75 billion worth of electronics manufacturing. So whether we produce chips for automobiles or display for TV, there’s a local market ready to absorb this production. Third, a talent pool of 85,000 semiconductor engineers is being readied as part of the scheme. Sixty institutes—best of the IITs, NITs, engineering colleges, global exchange programmes—are going to collaborate on what we’re calling a chip to startup, as many of these students will become entrepreneurs.

How will the government ensure India becomes the primary alternative to Taiwan and other chip-making countries in three to four years, especially when alternatives like Vietnam have already come up in electronics supply chains?

This is an execution-focused government. So, the policy decision (on semiconductors) has happened. In the coming few weeks, you will see the notification of the actual schemes, and within a few months, you should see the approvals in place and, hopefully, within a year, you should see some plants doing the groundbreaking. We’re confident about that because we have done extensive consultation with fab makers, display, design and equipment makers, the supply chain and with academia.

What kind of handholding for big investors is the government planning?

India Semiconductor Mission, a body of professionals, along with government officials but primarily people who understand semiconductors, will help do technical evaluation, select the right technology, technology partners, and they will continue to handhold as long as the people (investors) need. The $10 billion plan is going to be there for 20 years. So, once people develop confidence, there will be many more. Tax sops are already there for the last 10 or more years for semiconductor manufacturing.

The joint parliamentary panel suggested substantive changes to the original bill. How does the government view those?

The bill has been presented to Parliament; now it will come formally to the government, and we will examine all the recommendations and do the next steps. The stakeholder consultation gets completed now. First, the government does the stakeholder consultations; then the committee does.

Can it be taken up in the next Parliament session?

Formally, it is still the property of Parliament. It has to come to the government.

Legal hurdles have come up in regulating Big Tech. How can India achieve the balance of ensuring national security, privacy and adequate freedom to companies?

So, look at the whole thing from three dimensions. First is privacy, already the data protection bill is there. The second part is user safety, citizens safety, our children’s safety and well-being, ensuring that democracy doesn’t get compromised, that users get properly compensated for the content that they create. These are some of the concerns on which there is good global thinking, consensus building processes going on, in which the thought process is that there has to be a more balanced regulatory architecture in the world. We also need to think in those directions. We must look at the good parts of the technology and make sure that our concerns are addressed.

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