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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

Revitalizing the Indian semiconductor industry

Jayakishore Bayadi
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Jayakishore Bayadi
Many times, business ideas do germinate in dining table meetings, while roaming around the park, while sipping coffee in a café, or while cheering up in the bar with a clinging sound of a glass full of beer. However, the idea of the India Semiconductor Association (ISA) took shape during ‘BoB’ meetings. BoB stands for ‘Brainstorm over Breakfast’ — something unique connected to ISA, a trade body representing India’s semiconductor industry.

Although semiconductor industry did exist in India for more than 20 years, there was no visibility or identity within the society for the Indian semiconductor sector. That was the time when many global players in this space were about to set up their shops in India. Those who already had a presence were in the expansion mood. So, though a potential for growth was there, an efficient ecosystem to evolve was absent.

Besides, Indian companies in the industry had several common concerns. Be it a governmental policy, infrastructure development, or nurturing talent, as the level of talent or expertise required for this industry is very high. Though India had superior talents, there was a lack of awareness about the semiconductor industry.

The ISA was such an initiative when the industry was in troubled times to enable the growth of the industry. “NASSCOM as an Industry body is much more IT and ITES oriented which are the volume segments of the market, whereas the semiconductor industry is a niche specialized area that is in an early stage of growth. “The level of attention needed for this industry was tough for a large body like NASSCOM to provide,” says S. Janakiraman, President and CEO of R&D Services, MindTree and Chairman of ISA. So, everybody in the industry felt that there is a need for a platform or independent industry where the country’s ecosystem can be made more regulated for the growth of the semiconductor sector.

Also, there was no single point of contact to address these concerns. Firstly, the governmental rules and regulations regarding import-export clearances, custom clearances, and taxation were not lucid as far as the semiconductor industry was concerned. For instance, when a company designs a chip and sends it offshore for manufacturing and brings it back to do the testing, government used to levy customs duty on the shipment thus making companies cough up more by way of taxes. The government lacked a clear understanding of the concept regarding the way the industry functions. Secondly, there was no common forum where smaller companies could interact with other trade bodies and global industry bodies to enhance the relationship. “Also, the Indian companies found it difficult to sell their IPs individually. So industry members felt the need for all the industries to come together and cooperate on standards and compete on business,”says Dr.Sridhar Mitta, MD and CTO, e4e.

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