The ill-fated day of 1989, when the fire in Chandigarh made us slaves of China


The journey started in 1960

The journey of semiconductors in India started in the year 1960. The company named Fairchild Semiconductor was the first to start making chips, but due to the indifference and pressure of the Indian bureaucracy, the company left India and went to Malaysia. Similarly, in the year 1962, Bharat Electronics Limited, a government company, established a fab to make silicon and germanium transistors. But then due to political pressure and lack of cooperation, BEL could not match the global quality and price standards and the company was shut down. Similarly, with the help of IISc Professor AR Vasudeva Murthy, he founded Metchem Silicon Limited, which was to produce semiconductors in partnership with Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL). But without government help the company failed.

The dream of India got burnt in the fire of Chandigarh

The dream of India got burnt in the fire of Chandigarh

India wanted to move forward in the semiconductor race, but was repeatedly failing due to lack of government policies and help. Semiconductor Complex Ltd was started in the year 1976 in Mohali, Chandigarh. SCL started with 5000 nm process and 800 nm advanced technology. This was the period when Taiwan and China had not even entered the semiconductor sector. In the year 1984, Semiconductor Complex Limited (SCL) started manufacturing semiconductors in Mohali, Punjab. But in the year 1989, India’s dream of becoming a chip hub got a setback again.

India’s dream got burnt in a mysterious fire

India's dream got burnt in a mysterious fire

On February 7, 1989, a major fire broke out in the SCL plant. This fire started in a very mysterious way. Simultaneously several parts of the plant caught fire. Foreign equipment worth crores of rupees got ruined due to this fire. There was a huge loss of about 60 crore rupees and with this the dream of becoming a semiconductor hub of India once again went up in flames. The reason behind the fire in the SCL plant could not be ascertained till date. The cause of the fire could not be ascertained even in the investigation of IB.

If there was no fire, India’s progress would have been somewhere else

If there was no fire, India's progress would have been somewhere else

According to a report in the English newspaper The Tribune, in the year 1976, Indira Gandhi’s government had given the go-ahead for the formation of the Semiconductor Complex. Till that time Taiwan, Israel, Korea and China were not even in the field of semiconductor. SCL started 8 years after this proposal was approved. India’s dream of becoming a semiconductor remained incomplete due to the sluggish attitude and policies of the government. Had this company survived today, it could have become the foundation of the Indian electronics industry. But the fire took away this opportunity from India. When the SCL fire broke out, the then Union Minister of State KR Narayanan said that production would resume at SCL soon, but it also took more than 8 years. Due to this delay of the government, India went backward in the semiconductor sector. In the year 2006, SCL was incorporated as a research and development organization. Its name was changed to ‘Semiconductor Laboratory’.

And we became dependent on China

And we became dependent on China

India does not do chip manufacturing. Our country is dependent on imports in the field of semiconductors. In the year 2020, India’s chip import was 15 billion dollars. We get 37 percent of chip imports from China. At the same time, Taiwan has a 63 percent stake. The speed with which China’s aggressive attitude is moving towards occupying Taiwan, in such a situation, if China occupies Taiwan, it will have a very bad effect on the supply of semiconductors. India’s economy can be affected. Work related to IT sector may come to a standstill across the country.

what is semiconductor

what is semiconductor

Semiconductor chip is considered the heart of electronic products. It is widely used in products ranging from smartphones to cars, data centers, computers, laptops, tablets, smart devices, vehicles, household appliances, life saving pharmaceutical devices, agri tech, ATMs and many more. Chip imports in India are expected to reach $32 billion by 2025. Its market in India is expected to reach $63 billion by 2026.

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