A 'fab'ulous dream in­deed

Electrical Monitor - - EDITORIAL -

You can't do to­day's job with yes­ter­day's meth­ods and be in busi­ness tomorrow.

— Anony­mous

he In­dian gov­ern­ment's re­cent ap­proval to set­ting up two sil­i­con wafer fab­ri­ca­tion fa­cil­i­ties in the pri­vate sec­tor is in­deed a very big de­vel­op­ment for the elec­tronic sys­tem de­sign and man­u­fac­tur­ing (ESDM) in­dus­try. The in­vest­ment en­tailed, at around Rs.25,000 crore, is un­prece­dented, at least in the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor.

TA "fab", which is how sil­i­con wafer fab­ri­ca­tion is re­ferred to as, in­deed bridges an im­por­tant gap in the ESDM space. When com­pleted, it could re­duce In­dia's de­pen­dence on im­ports. At the psy­cho­log­i­cal level, it sends out a very strong sig­nal to the world be­cause Fabs have largely been the en­ter­prise of only the de­vel­oped world. At this stage, the pro­posed fabs are mere an­nounce­ments and it will be quite some time be­fore tan­gi­ble im­ple­men­ta­tion on the projects sets in. This is when daunt­ing chal­lenges could set in. Firstly, a fab needs tremen­dous in­vest­ment. Even when the Cen­tre has as­sured fi­nan­cial help, the modal­i­ties are be­ing worked out. Al­though there need not be many ex­tra­or­di­nary com­plex­i­ties at the project ex­e­cu­tion stage, pro­duc­tion of sil­i­con wafers is a very en­ergy- and wa­ter-in­ten­sive ac­tiv­ity. As­sured sup­plies of th­ese cru­cial in­puts needs to be as­cer­tained. The big­gest test is to en­sure that sil­i­con wafers pro­duced by In­dia are cost­ef­fec­tive. Much of this will de­pend on how much tech­ni­cal and com­mer­cial ef­fi­ciency the fabs can es­tab­lish. This as­pect will be most crit­i­cal to the suc­cess of th­ese pro­posed fabs. Frankly, In­dia has been a late en­trant in this busi­ness. China, over the past twenty years or so, has cre­ated so much ef­fi­ciency in sil­i­con wafer fab­ri­ca­tion that is im­prob­a­ble for any coun­try—not just In­dia—to come any­where close to China's feat. An In­dian con­sumer of sil­i­con wafers needs to find suf­fi­cient merit in pre­fer­ring do­mes­tic wafers over im­ported ones. Two fac­tors could how­ever still go in favour of do­mes­tic wafers. First, the weak­en­ing ru­pee could make im­ports even costlier with time, and sec­ond, lo­cal fabs could in­su­late In­dia from any ir­reg­u­lar­ity in for­eign sup­plies. All the same, how much the do­mes­tic techno-com­mer­cial ad­van­tage would be can­not be as­cer­tained now. It must be re­mem­bered that for In­dia, the two pro­posed fabs rep­re­sent a sec­ond at­tempt at the same tar­get. In 2006, a sim­i­lar pro­posal was mooted but the plan briskly fell through. In­dia has never com­pro­mised on the grandios­ity of its an­nounce­ments; the fab project is only fur­ther ev­i­dence. Im­ple­men­ta­tion is all that mat­ter and im­ple­men­ta­tion is sadly all that we lack.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.