When jugaad won’t do
As India gears up to set up the first ever semiconductor fabrication unit, or fab, on its shores — a dream project in the making for decades, there is a need to focus on its procurement, management and facilitation.
Significance of India's Semiconductor Fab
- Geopolitical Opportunity: Establishing India's first semiconductor fabrication unit (fab) holds immense geopolitical importance, and the moment is ripe for success.
- Historical Hurdles: Decades ago, India missed the opportunity to host Intel due to reluctance to "pick winners," but industrial policy now has more support.
- Islands of Excellence: India's history includes pockets of excellence amid mediocrity, evident in manufacturing and services, underscoring the need for widespread excellence.
Nurturing a Culture of Excellence
- Past Scarcities: India's past, marked by scarcities and regulations like FERA, hindered innovation and encouraged subpar products in a protected economy.
- Present Potential: India, now the third-largest economy in purchasing power parity terms, has semiconductor design prowess, yet pervasive excellence is lacking.
- Cultural Shift Needed: To leverage fab investment benefits, India must cultivate a culture of excellence, moving beyond jugaad, emphasizing quality and precision.
Protecting Semiconductor Growth
- Promised Benefits: Semiconductor investment will yield externalities, boosting ancillary manufacturing and employment but necessitating high-quality standards.
- Exceptional Requirements: Semiconductor production requires flawless processes, packaging, and transportation, as even minor interruptions result in significant losses.
- The Bridge to Excellence: India must build a bridge from islands of excellence to the broader economy, ensuring convergence toward excellence.