…is more than great news for Andhra Pradesh. If what he promises materializes, it would be a great opportunity for Electronics Engineers across the country.
In his poll campaign trail, yesterday Modi gave a fillip to the aspiring electronics engineers in India by talking, for the first time ever*, of creating a hardware hub in India. It could not have come from a better leader. It could not have come at a better time. And it could not have been at a better place.
Bangalore is the most important hardware, embedded systems and semiconductor design services center in India. In fact, Bangalore over the years grew its reputation as the most preferred destination for silicon valley enterprises to open design centers outside US. Bangalore became such an important center after a long period of learning how the industry works.
Bangalore’s growth into one of the most favored destination for electronics design services also saw roadblocks put up by Indira Gandhian era of corruption, poverty politics, lethargic local administration and lack of thrust on basic infrastructure. But Bangalore continued to grew despite all such challenges only because of its human resource capital. Engineers in Bangalore have grown in strength to be able to prove their capabilities. Within about 2 decades after India opened up to foreign investment, electronics engineers from across India came to Bangalore, worked for various enterprises, developed their capabilities to execute a full semiconductor design cycle, write software for new products and test complete electronics systems and qualify products after QA testing. This is in not a small achievement, an achievement which proves the true capability of Indian engineers. Unfortunately, India did not capitalize on Bangalore growth. While Pune and Noida tried to grow similar capabilities, they have unfortunately not been on par with Bangalore purely in terms of available human capital.
Taking the Malaysian example
In a previous post, the example of how Malaysia capitalized on electronics revolution and grow into the most important destination for semiconductor chip packaging was discussed. To summarize that old post, the world of electronics – semiconductors, embedded systems and hardware – is looking for a) cheaper and b) efficient alternatives in India. South Asia continues to hold a very important position in manufacturing and testing. China continues to be in the forefront in advanced research in these areas. Therefore India should complete the cycle and become design, packaging and testing hub.
For India, to capitalize on Bangalore’s growth story in electronics, it is necessary to grow human resources and infrastructure in testing and packaging. Many designs sees full development cycle in India today. Manufacturing continues to happen in foundries outside of India. For India to build the required knowledge and catch-up with the semiconductor manufacturing industry would be a very difficult and an uphill task. Instead, India should concentrate on building human resources and infrastructure for testing and packaging, at the same time increasing its capabilities in developing designs by executing full design cycles.
Coastal Andhra would certainly have a big role to play if Rayalaseema does become a hub of hardware design, testing and packaging. If Coastal Andhra’s ports are used as backbone of supply chain, India could be on par with Malaysian counterparts and compete with them.
Rayalaseema is appropriate destination
Modi could not have made this speech at a better place. If properly developed with thrust on infrastructure, a new city in Rayalaseema region concentrating on building hardware would use Bangalore’s expertise on electronics to the fullest. If the upcoming political dispensation gets proper mandate and emphasizes on knowledge building instead of just skill building, they would also take the initiative in using academic knowledge from Bangalore’s IIM, Chennai’s IIT, Hyderabad’s BITS and other premium educational institutions close to Rayalaseema region. A look at Modi’s plans in case of 60 month mandate, his plans for India’s future shows that there is a good chance, that it would be no holds barred and full throttle.
India’s electronics engineers have all the capabilities to build complete hardware products – semiconductor design, PCB design, software design. If there is anything lacking, it is knowledge of business end, design testing, packaging and system architecture. Lack of expertise in these areas has been mainly because of lack of academic thrust. There is no better place in South India than Rayalaseema to exert this thrust. Building complete products would be that much more easy if packaging and testing can be done in a nearby region. If Coastal Andhra Pradesh develops its ports and Rayalaseema becomes hardware hub, Indian enterprises could build their products in India, deliver them to their customers world over right from ports close by. This would add tremendously to the growth of this industry.
Thrust must be on infrastructure and research
Lack of big educational institutions could be a challenge but it also comes with a great opportunity to build new ones with total focus on newer technologies instead of just skill development. With total synergy of research and proper co-ordination between IIMB, IITM, BITS, Pilani – Hyderabad and such prestigious institutions, it would be possible. Such educational institutions would not only help feed human resources in semiconductor packaging and hardware testing industry but would also help in furthering research in these areas so that Indian enterprises catch and compete with the world.
It is also noteworthy that Modi did not emphasize on South India being a leader in electronics hardware industry so far in his speeches, rallies or interviews since the start of his campaigns. Modi’s homework before coming to Tirupati shows in this speech. With good educational institutions spread across the four states in South India, expertise already available in Bangalore, and an opportunity to create a new city in Rayalaseema, Modi’s thrust on making Andhra Pradesh a center for hardware design would help usher a new era of progress in this industry and Rayalaseema.