The Foundations of High Tech

Date:   Thursday , January 30, 2003

SEMICONDUCTORS—IN THEIR MANY forms—still remain the foundation of the high tech industry; the basic building blocks of technology. Even though the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index is down from it’s peak and thousands of jobs have been lost in semiconductor industry, if one looks at the VC activity and the optimism shown by industry insiders, it seems like this foundation is getting ready for supporting the next wave of innovation in the technology industry. Last year—the semiconductor industry's worst—the number of VC-funded semiconductor companies as a percentage of total VC investments was actually higher than in 2000—the semiconductor industry’s best. Chips seem to be everywhere we are, in our cars, in every room of the house, in every device we use.

The Internet revolution has connected us all—if not optimally—when we are working on our computers. This next wave of innovation with wireless and smart devices will connect us all even if we are away from our computers and are just living a non-high tech life. Let’s hope that companies figure out business models to make money from all this new connectivity. Let’s hope that they will also remember lessons learned from the last wave—to build for a real user with a real need.

As we start 2003, there are murmurs in the high tech industry that we have reached the bottom of the technology downtrend. Most of the surviving companies have figured out how to survive and generate revenues in this market. Amen to that!

So, What Did We Get?
After the euphoria surrounding the granting of “dual citizenship” to Indian diaspora living around the world, a few questions arise about this grant.

What the Indian government has granted to its 20-million strong global diaspora on January 9, 2003, is more like dual nationality. The Constitution of India defines a citizen of India as “every person who has his domicile in the territory of India and who was born in the territory of India; or either of whose parents was born in the territory of India; or who has been ordinarily resident in the territory of India for not less than five years immediately preceding such commencement.”

The Constitution of India further grants a citizen of India certain absolute rights, subject to reasonable restrictions on their exercise. By that standard, “dual citizenship” should include voting and political rights, right to welfare benefits, and so on. It also entails certain duties on the part of the “dual” citizen. But it does not.

The “dual citizenship” announced on Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas entails only right of access, reservation of seats in educational institutions without hindrance, and a few other ones. The government has confirmed that people with dual citizenship will not have voting rights or the right to hold elected, military or civilian office.

It is a welcome step, one that was long overdue. The key differentiator between the two terms, then, is that dual nationality gives the holder the option of two passports and the right to choose.