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First India chip fab to be announced in a few weeks: Ashwini Vaishnaw

India’s first semiconductor fabrication unit will be announced in the next few weeks, Union minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Tuesday, as he expressed confidence that the country will soon join the league of a select few countries which have a vibrant semiconductor industry.

“We are almost at an inflection point when the first fab should be declared in a few weeks. And that is just the beginning,” Vaishnaw said at the Confederation of Indian Industry’s (CII) Partnership Summit.

“India is slated to become a vibrant semiconductor industry in the coming 3-4 years,” the Union minister for electronics and information technology (IT) said at the event.

The government had announced a $10 billion package to incentivise the manufacturing of chips in India in December 2021. And, according to recent reports, the Centre is in talks with at least four global semiconductor companies to set up such units.

A semiconductor fab is a manufacturing plant in which raw silicon wafers are turned into integrated circuits. India is competing with the United States, South Korea, and European nations to attract global companies, at a time when major economies have rolled out huge subsidies for the industry. Domestic manufacturing of semiconductors became a priority for the government against the backdrop of the shortage of chips, which had serious consequences such as supply disruption in automobiles and electronics, particularly after the outbreak of Covid-19.

Last week, the United States and India also signed an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on setting up a semiconductor supply chain and innovation partnership, underscoring the importance of chips in the context of the global economy.

The minister also highlighted the government’s success in turning the country into an exporter of mobile phones from being an importer.

“Today, 99 percent of mobile phones used here are made in India, which is in stark contrast to the situation 10 years ago when out of 100 phones, as much as 99 per cent were imported,” he said. Vaishnaw said that time has come when there is at least one more trusted source in telecom technology.

“The world today is dominated by a few telecom technology players and that is a barrier in many ways. That is why we decided to build our own end-to-end telecom stack,” he said, adding that it was recently tested for 10 million simultaneous calls in December.

Bullet train, Hyperloop just a few years away The railways minister said that the bullet train project is likely to be ready by August 2026. “While the hyperloop technology in trains is at least 7-8 years away,” he said.

A hyperloop -- conceptualised by billionaire Elon Musk -- uses magnets to levitate pods inside an airless tube, creating conditions in which the pods can shuttle people, and freight, at 1,000 kmph.


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