In his office in New Delhi, Ashwini Vaishnaw, the Indian minister of electronics and information technology, keeps a 12-inch disc of silicon semiconductor on the wall, gleaming like a platinum record beside a portrait of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Its circuits, measured in nanometers and invisible to the human eye, may be the most sophisticated objects ever made. It vies with oil as one of the most valuable traded goods on earth.
According to India’s government, the microprocessor chips that power all things digital will soon be fully made in India. It’s an ambition as unlikely as it is bold, and speaks volumes about Modi’s belief that he can propel India into the top tier of advanced technology manufacturing.
In July, a legion of fawning foreign businesspeople lined up onstage behind Modi in his home state of Gujarat. About $10 billion in subsidies are at stake, ready to fund 50% or even 70% of any company’s outlay. Anil Agarwal, the chair of Vedanta, a British mining and metals group, told reporters to expect "Vedanta made-in-India chips” by 2025.