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The Indian Semiconductor Industry Is Growing Up

India has developed a reputation for the back-office function, whether in software or hardware, whether for British Telecom or Texas Instruments. It became the butt of jokes about cheap talent. There have even been television comedy series about the goings-on at Indian back offices, especially for call centers. Today, nearly 30 years after I filed my first article, times are changing. Both India and China are finding their own confidence. China is clearly motivated to clear the hurdles erected by the U.S.-China trade war, and India is awash in nationalist sentiment, propagated by the country’s prime minister and the enthusiasm he stirs up for everything Indian. Indeed, this newfound fervor isn’t restricted to India and China; nationalist sentiment is popping up everywhere. In India, one result has been a spate of programs focused on creating self-sufficiency in many areas, including electronics and semiconductor industries. But it’s not just political and social change that’s driving India’s electronics industry resurgence. The last three decades have seen Indian engineers gain confidence, demand higher salaries, figure out how to move up the value chain, and even branch out from the corporate environments of companies like Texas Instruments, NXP, and Cadence to create their own startups. One high-profile example is Ganapathy Subramaniam, a former director at Texas Instruments in India who co-founded Cosmic Circuits in 2005. When Cadence acquired Cosmic Circuits in 2013, Subramaniam branched out again to invest in other semiconductor-related companies, working alongside Lip-Bu Tan at WRVI Capital.