Rajeev Chandrasekhar On 4 Reasons It's the Most Exciting Time To Be In India's Tech Ecosystem The world is recognizing that India is a trusted, global reliable partner, said the IT minister

By S Shanthi

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IT minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar believes that today we are changing the narrative of going from "Why India?" to "When are we going to do this in India?" and "Why are we not in India?".

Explaining why he believes so at the Bangalore Tech Summit, he said, "If you recall, in 2022, we had the first semiconductor summit in Bengaluru. And I remember when we were leading up to organizing that summit, many people looked at us and said, why would anybody even bother about India and the places of action are Taiwan and the US, Europe etc. We are now changing the narrative."

He then went on to explain the underlying reasons for this, as below.

Confidence in the capabilities of the ecosystem

The most important reason, in his opinion, apart from the geopolitics and all of the other stuff that people write about, is the increasing confidence in the capabilities of the ecosystem that has developed over the last few years. "We have been a digital economy that has predominantly focused on IT for many years. And over the last five to seven years, our digital economy and our tech economy represent almost every aspect of what is going on around the world.

Role of startups

Be it artificial intelligence (AI), semiconductors, electronics web3, supercomputing, high-performance computing, electronics, micro-electronics, consumer internet or IT and ITeS, the minister believes that we are at a stage today where it is not just about the government. "It's about the young startups today, who believe that they can design devices, IP products, solutions and platforms for the world and for the Indian market. That confidence has never been seen before. I always say in conferences like this that this is certainly the most exciting time ever in the history of independent India, to be a techie and to be in the tech ecosystem. So, certainly, this is one of the reasons I think the world is recognizing that India is a trusted, global reliable partner," he said.

Engagement with semiconductors

He believes that the India story and India's engagement with semiconductors have been a series of missed opportunities over the last 70 years. "It is amazing to even think that Fairchild Semiconductor wanted to come to India in the 1960s to set up the first packaging unit. And at that time our socialist policies said no semiconductors, and they went on to build Penang, Malaysia, which is now one of the largest packaging hubs in Asia."

Similarly, again, in mid-2010, Intel wanted to set up a fab in India and again, they got thwarted by the government, red tape and so on and so forth, for lack of imagination, he said, adding that we are now playing catch up. "But funnily enough, I think in a lot of ways, we are almost jumping one generation and skipping a whole generation and looking at opportunities for the next decade, which are really brand new Abinitio types of opportunities, designing devices today for the AI world is something that there is no legacy for. So I think we have in the last 18 months, 24 months, made such tremendous progress, in talent, design, packaging and in research."

The government will be setting up India Semiconductor Research Centre very soon and down the road, we will even see one or two fabs coming up very quickly as well. "So, India becoming a semiconductor nation and in turn becoming a trusted player in the global semicon ecosystem is a given. It's a question of how fast we can roll it out and how soon we will get there," he said.

Betting big on AI

"To me personally and for the government and our Prime Minister, AI is simply the biggest invention, the most impactful invention in recent times. To look at it as anything less than that is to not understand AI. We think if AI is harnessed correctly, it can transform healthcare, agriculture, governance, language translation and inclusion. So we are focused really on capturing AI, building the capabilities and datasets and the AI compute and training capacities to build models that will help India's quest to give better health care, better education, better language translation, agriculture etc."

Explaining the government of India's vision for AI, he said that it looks at AI as a kinetic enabler for the $1 trillion digital economy goal that we set for ourselves as a nation. However, as recent conversations around the world have shown, the minister believes, the world is now aligning to India's view that we need guardrails of safety and trust. "We need legislative guardrails that will ensure AI can never be misused or used by bad actors to cause harm."

S Shanthi

Senior Assistant Editor

Shanthi specializes in writing sector-specific trends, interviews and startup profiles. She has worked as a feature writer for over a decade in several print and digital media companies. 

 

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